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Bad bounce in overtime sends Thunderbirds to sixth straight loss

Despite 34 saves from goalie Liam Hughes, the Seattle Thunderbirds fell in overtime to the Spokane Chiefs (Brian LIesse/T-Birds)

KENT – When things are going bad for a team, it can feel like none of the bounces go your way.

You would understand if the Seattle Thunderbirds were feeling that way after Tuesday night’s overtime affair with the Spokane Chiefs. After giving up two goals in the third period to allow the Chiefs to tie the game a bad bounce would send Seattle to its sixth straight defeat.

“Hockey gods are cruel sometimes and they certainly were tonight,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said.

After several close calls at one end, the Chiefs took the puck back the other way 3:58 into the overtime period. Spokane’s Luke Toporowski took a shot that hit a stick and deflected up and over goalie Liam Hughes.

It landed in the net and the Chiefs had beaten Seattle 3-2.

The bad bounce spoiled what was shaping up to be a night that Seattle (7-8-3-0) would snap its losing streak. The Thunderbirds started strong, scoring twice to build a lead and Hughes made 34 saves, many of the spectacular variety.

But in the end, it would be six straight losses and more frustration.

“Obviously we would have liked the two (points),” O’Dette said. “There were a lot of chances that we didn’t finish. We’re kind of snake bitten now offensively. There’s positives there, we’ll watch the video and correct things.”

Spokane (10-7-1-2) would come back in the third period thanks to its power play.

Ethan McIndoe would start the comeback when he scored at 7:05 of the third after banging home a rebound from in close. It was a power-play goal and came after Hughes had made two or three point-blank stops.

It was the sixth goal of the year for McIndoe as the Chiefs went 1-for-6 on the power play and the number of chances — including a five-on-three look in the first period — did not sit well with O’Dette.

“I thought the officiating was sub-par to say the least,” O’Dette said. “A team with a good power play like that we gave them too many opportunities. It gave them momentum even when they didn’t score. Some of the penalties we got were marginal, very marginal. The five-on-three that put us down, that’s not even a penalty, it’s ridiculous.”

After McIndoe cut the lead, New Jersey Devils first-round pick Ty Smith would tie the game for Spokane.

He jumped into the high slot where he was not picked up and fired his third goal of the year at 16:50 of the third. Smith also added an assist on the night and was the best player on the ice for either club.

“They were coming hard all game and of course pushed even more in the third,” Zack Andrusiak said. “We took a couple penalties there and they got that first one and came even harder. We weren’t able to hold them off.”

In the first period, things were looking good for the Thunderbirds.

Payton Mount was back in the lineup Tuesday and would notch his first WHL goal three-and-a-half minutes into the first period. He got the puck after a Matthew Wedman face off win, moved in on Spokane goalie Dawson Weatherill and lifted a back hand over him.

Andrusiak would add to the Seattle lead 3:05 into the second period after Jaxan Kuluski stole the puck and raced up ice on a two-on-one break. He waited out a defender before feeding Andrusiak who would fire his eighth of the season.

O’Dette deployed some new lines Tuesday in an attempt to find some offense. That included moving Mount to the top line and having Andrej Kukuca center the team’s third line. The Thunderbirds generated chances and would end up out shooting the Chiefs 39-37 for the night.

Seattle could never get the third goal that they needed and in the end, it allowed the Chiefs to tie the game. The Thunderbirds will now lick their wounds before a rematch with the Chiefs Friday night in Spokane.

“When you’re going through this, they’re not going to let us out of it easily and we’ve got to dig in even more and keep working,” O’Dette said. “Keep pushing and stay positive. There are a lot of things to build on from tonight’s game. We have to take those and move forward.”

Notes

• Spokane’s Weatherill picked up his third win of the season as he made 37 saves.

• The Thunderbirds scored more than one goal for the first time in five games.

• Andrusiak may be heating up a bit as his goal Tuesday was his second in the last three games.

• Mount got off the schneid with his first career goal. That leaves Tyrel Bauer, Cade McNelly, Cody Savey, Jared Davidson, Loeden Schaufler, and Keegan Craik as players on the roster who have yet to score in the WHL.