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Thunderbirds shoot but scoring continues to elude as losing streak extends to seven

Seattle's Dillon Hamaliuk looks to screen Spoake goalie Dawson Weatherill Friday night. (Larry Brunt/Chiefs)

The story was much the same for the Seattle Thunderbirds Friday night in Spokane.

Despite creating 34 shots and a number of scoring chances, the Thunderbirds could not find the net enough and would end up dropping their seventh straight contest, this time by a 4-2 score.

“We turned it up in the third period and had some extended o-zone time,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “That’s what we needed earlier in the game. I thought we were about 10 to 15-percent short of where we needed to be in the first 40 minutes. To win in this division, on the road, you need every guy going every, shift every period.”

Down 2-1 in the third, Seattle had a golden chance to tie when it had an extended two-man power play advantage. The Thunderbirds were able to create shots and chances but could not beat Spokane goalie Dawson Weatherill.

Three minutes later, Spokane’s Adam Beckman would lift a puck over Seattle goalie Liam Hughes for his ninth of the year to put the Chiefs up 3-1. It was the type of swing that seems to be finding the Thunderbirds during their current streak.

“We had some looks in the third,” O’Dette said. “We could have done without that third goal from them, that obviously was the difference in the game.”

The Thunderbirds would end the night 0-for-4 with the man advantage and are in a lengthy 1-for-39 power-play slide.

“I thought we worked the puck around well,” O’Dette said of the power play Friday. “We had multiple looks. Their goalie made some saves and I’d like to see the video to see if we had proper traffic in front of the net. We executed the plays we wanted to on that but couldn’t score.”

Spokane (11-7-1-2) was paced by two Nolan Reid goals and 32 stops from Weatherill to win its third in a row overall and third against the Thunderbirds this season. Seattle (7-9-3-0) picked up goals from Zack Andrusiak and Tyler Carpendale in the loss.

Hughes was strong in net for Seattle again while making 35 saves to keep the Thunderbirds within striking distance but the lack of offense would prove costly.

Carter Chorney put Spokane up 11:13 into the game when he banged home a pass at the back door. That goal held into the second period when Seattle would be able to tie the game.

Just under the three minute mark of the second, Seattle was killing a penalty off when Jaxan Kaluski stole the puck from Ty Smith. He fought Smith off as he lugged it up ice and would hit a streaking Zack Andrusiak with a tape-to-tape pass. Andrusiak beat Weatherill for his ninth of the season and the game was tied.

That goal didn’t give the Thunderbirds any momentum however.

The Chiefs tilted the ice for the rest of the period while out shooting the Thunderbirds 17-4. Hughes held the fort however and Seattle survived the frame tied at one.

“The second period wasn’t very good,” O’Dette said. “We didn’t do the things we needed to do to get the puck in their end and keep it there. We weren’t executing off face offs and things like that to get the puck into their end and spent the majority of it in our end.”

Reid would score his first of the night 1:26 into the third period to break the tie and then Beckman would add to the lead after the failed two-man power play for Seattle.

Carpendale would give the Thunderbirds hope at 11:49 when he raced in on the Spokane goal and slid a back hand shot past Weatherill for his first of the year. It was the first game back from injury for the big winger since Oct. 20th.

Seattle would fail on a late power-play chance and couldn’t get the game square before Reid would score into the empty net to wrap up the scoring and send the Thunderbirds to another defeat.

Things aren’t going to get easier for Seattle as it returns home Saturday to host a Portland Winterhawks team that has not lost a game in regulation in its last six contests.

“We don’t have time to sulk about it or hang our heads,” O’Dette said. “We have to dust ourselves off and get ready for a big game tomorrow. Dwelling on that is wasted energy. We’ll thread it back up and go back at it tomorrow.”

Notes

• Defenseman Reece Harsch didn’t play much after the first period on Friday. He did take a couple of shifts during the third-period power plays but did not take shifts on defense. O’Dette indicated this was due to an injury. “He’s battling some stuff and we’ll have to reassess how he’s doing,” the coach said. “We asked a lot tonight from our young D-corps.”

• Seattle is struggling to score as a team but Andrusiak is heating up a bit. His goal Friday gives him scores in three of his last four games.

• The Thunderbirds have not scored more than two goals in their last seven games, all losses. They last topped the two-goal mark on Oct. 27th when they beat Vancouver 5-1.