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Vancouver drops Thunderbirds on Thanksgiving eve

Seattle captain Nolan Volcan carries the puck up ice during the T-Birds loss to the Vancouver Giants Wednesday (Brian Liesse/ T-Birds)

KENT – On the night before Thanksgiving the Seattle Thunderbirds looked like they had already feasted on turkey and stuffing.

The Vancouver Giants took it to a somewhat listless Thunderbirds squad Wednesday night at the accesso ShoWare Center, winning the physical match up as well as battles for the puck. The Giants would use the power play to build a lead and then lean on goalie Trent Minor to hold off any Thunderbirds comeback.

“Not the building (off of Saturday’s win) that we were looking for,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “Some guys played hard, there’s no doubt about that, we’ve got some injuries and we need some guys to step up. Especially against a first-place team you’re going to need everyone going and battling as hard as you can. We’re relying on the same guys quite a bit to carry that and we need more guys pulling the rope.”

Seattle (8-10-3-0) gave up the game’s first three goals and would go on to lose 4-2 in front of a sold out home crowd. Seattle was playing without Noah Philp, Jarret Tyszka, Reece Harsch and Payton Mount.

Vancouver (15-6-2-0) got goals from four different goal scorers and 23 stops from Minor while out shooting Seattle 41-25.

A key moment in the game came early in the second period. Down two, the Thunderbirds started strong and created some scoring chances. They weren’t able to score however and ended up taking a penalty. Milos Roman would convert for the Giants on the ensuing power play when he tipped his 11th goal of the season past goalie Liam Hughes at 3:54 to make it 3-0.

“It’s a big swing,” O’Dette said. “We had some momentum there and it seems like they just came down and scored. You get those momentum swings in a game and it killed our momentum instantly.”

Nolan Volcan would break his personal 12-game scoring drought at 14:37 of the second when he scored short-handed, on a snap shot. That gave Seattle some hope but it would end up being as close as the Thunderbirds would get.

“It would be nice if I could play (Matthew) Wedman and Volcan all game,” O’Dette said. “Those guys are consistent in bringing it and credit to them, but we need more guys.”

The Thunderbirds were chasing the game most of the night as puck management was a problem. That led to extended zone time and a number of penalties.

Vancouver would get six power-play chances and would convert on two of them.

“It’s hard to gain momentum when you’re killing all the time,” O’Dette said. “That, and it saps your energy. I’ll have to watch the video on some of those calls. It’s an adventure out there trying to figure out what’s going on with the calls.”

Vancouver defenseman Bowen Byram put the Giants up five minutes into the game when his power-play point shot hit goalie Liam Hughes but sneaked through for his seventh goal of the season. Dylan Plouffe would double the lead at 14:28 when his point shot got through traffic and past Hughes.

Roman would then extend the lead to 3-0 early in the second before Volcan would score the short-handed goal to bring Seattle back to within two.

The bid for a comeback was squelched after a bad Seattle turnover led to Luke Svejkovsky scoring with 14:37 in the third. Zack Andrusiak would score his fourth goal in as many nights late to bring Seattle back to within two, but it would be too late.

After breaking through Saturday night, the Thunderbirds weren’t able to regain the energy on Wednesday, as they ended up chasing the game most of the night.

“We’re not executing passes and can’t move the puck out of our own end so we’re there all the time so that‘s one problem,” O’Dette said. “We have a young D and young forwards now. Guys are still improving and there’s going to be some growing pains.”

Notes

• 2018 second-round draft pick Lucas Ciona was recalled prior to the game and made his WHL debut. He played a strong game, throwing a couple of hits while recording one shot on goal. “I thought it was good,” O’Dette said of the 15-year-old’s debut. “He fits right in just fine. I wish he was old enough, put it that way.”

• Ciona got the call Sunday and arrived in Seattle on Monday in time for a practice. While he would have preferred to get a win, he was excited to get the first game under his belt. “I was a little surprised at how much faster it was, and how much stronger it was,” Ciona said of the experience. “I got into the game quickly and it was nice to play with all the guys. Sadly, we didn’t get the win but it was a good experience.”

• Andrusiak’s goal in the third period came on the power play. The Thunderbirds would end the night 1-for-5 with the man advantage.