By Andrew Eide
EVERETT — A night after playing poorly and losing soundly to Portland the Seattle Thunderbirds played another poor game in losing to the Everett Silvertips 5-0. As bad as Friday’s loss was, this might have been worse. Everett was led by Josh Winquist who picked up two goals and a stingy defense that held Seattle to only 16 shots on goal.
“Obviously a disappointing game,” Steve Konowalchuk said afterwards. “We don’t have the whole team competing right now. I think probably the same handful competed last night that competed tonight. The other same handful it seems right now (aren’t).”
The loss culminated a disappointing weekend for Seattle (11-5-0-2) who had hoped to make a statement against two tough division rivals. Instead they are left asking a lot of questions.
“It is surprising, it is upsetting,” Konowalchuk said about the disappointing results this weekend. “One thing we haven’t had a problem doing is generating scoring chances this year. The last two games we aren’t doing that so we have to work in other areas and they’ll come.”
Saturday night was very similar to Friday night’s game as Seattle had no jump, could not sustain any puck possession, couldn’t get their forecheck going and did not play physical. In short, nothing was going well.
“It’s willing to be tough with the puck,” Konowalchuk said of the effort. “I mean you’ve got to want the puck and you’ve got to want to make the right play with the puck. Then you can do stuff with the puck to put them on their heels and forecheck. A lot of times we have a lot of guys who don’t want to battle for the puck.”
Everett (11-3-2-0) capitalized on Seattle’s ineffectiveness and got on the board first when a Ben Betker shot deflected off a Seattle defender in front of the net and passed goalie Danny Mumaugh. The T-Birds could not respond and much like the Portland game did not register a shot on goal until the 15 minute mark, getting out shot 12-2.
The Silvertips extended their led to two when Ivan Nikolishin spun and fired a wrist shot from the slot. Everett had a two-goal lead and it was all they would need on a night where their back up goalie Daniel Cotton had a pretty easy go of it — only having to make 16 saves.
The second period was more of the same for the suddenly lost T-Birds. They hurt themselves in the middle frame by taking penalties and killing any momentum they might have been able to generate. On the night Seattle gave Everett seven power plays – something that has happened too much this year.
“That’s not good enough either,” the head coach said. “That doesn’t help you get any momentum, when you’re constantly taking penalties like that.”
Seattle managed to kill off six of the power plays but did surrender a third period extra man goal to Winquist to make the game 4-0 — a goal that assured Seattle would suffer its second straight frustrating defeat. Everett would add to their lead later in the final frame on a goal by Carson Stadnyk.
It was tough night for Danny Mumaugh who played well, made several nice saves but did not get a lot of help.
“You know what, Mumuagh was fine. He played a good game,” Konowalchuk said. “We don’t box out in front of the net on two of the goals its, absolutely ridiculous….we were puck mesmorized and that’s not his fault.”
With the way Seattle had been playing, no regulation losses in their last five games, more was expected in what was the biggest weekend of the young season. They now have a week to find their game and more importantly find their confidence.
“The whole game boils down to one-on-one battles,” Konowalchuk said. “They won a lot a lot more battles than we did tonight. They were willing to block more shots, they out-competed us and they deserved the win. We’ve got to get back on track.”
The T-Birds now face what will most likely be a week of tough practices before taking on the Victoria Royals Friday night at the ShoWare Center.
Seattle’s power play continues to be a mystery, going 0-for-4 on the night. They are now 20th in the WHL with the extra skater and are only converting at 16.7%. Konowlachuk felt that they were hesitating too much when given the chances.
The shut out for Cotton was his third career white wash and first this year. It’s hard to imagine he had an easier one than Saturday night where he was never really under fire.
Roberts Lipsbergs was a scratch Saturday night as he is nursing an upper-body injury. Konowalchuk did not feel that it would be a prolonged injury.
Defenseman Evan Wardley was also out of the line up as he is waiting to hear the length of a forthcoming suspension for his hit on Portland’s Adam De Champlain Friday night.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide