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Overtime goal sinks Thunderbirds bid for perfect weekend

Florida Panthers prospect Henrik Rybinski made his preseason debut Sunday in Everett. (Brian Liesse/ T-Birds)

EVERETT – After two nights of playing a young roster, the Seattle Thunderbirds went with a more veteran-laden lineup Sunday night against the Everett Silvertips.

Matthew Wedman, Roddy Ross, and Henrik Rybisnki all made their preseason debuts but it didn’t get them the perfect weekend the Thunderbirds wanted. The Silvertips scored a late goal to force overtime and would win it 1:18 into the extra frame when defenseman Ronan Seeley fired a wrist shot that beat Ross top corner.

The Silvertips bench raced on to the ice to celebrate a 3-2 win as they ended the weekend with a 3-0 record.

“It’s disappointing not to get that last win of the weekend but there’s some positives to move forward with,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette.

The three NHL drafted Thunderbirds had an impact on the game.

Ross, headed to Philadelphia Flyers camp Thursday, made 43 saves, many of the Grade A variety. The puck stuck to him most of the night as his rebound control was excellent.

It would be one shot that he couldn’t handle on a Silvertips power play that would force overtime. Everett’s Jake Christiansen’s shot was stopped by Ross but the puck fell to the ice in the crease. With nobody to clear it, Gage Concalves was able to pop it into the open net to tie the game at 2-2 with 2:41 left in the third period.

Rybinski assisted on Seattle’s first goal, a first-period power-play tally by rookie Brendan Williamson, but made five passes that led directly to shots on goal. After missing most of training camp he was grateful to get some game action prior to leaving for the Florida Panthers camp on Saturday.

“I was gassed first period just getting used to it,” Rybinski said. “I got used to it but I definitely needed it. It was good to get the kinks out. It helps you prepare so I think it was good for me.”

Joining Rybinski in Florida will be Wedman.

The 20-year-old center is eligible to be sent to the American Hockey League and there’s a chance that Sunday was his last game in a Seattle uniform. When asked, he said that he hadn’t thought about it.

“I’m thinking about it now,” he said with a chuckle, when asked. “We’ll have to see.”

Wedman ended the night with an assist and like Rybinski, was happy to get game action before leaving.

“It was nice to get my legs under me,” he said. “Started cramping up a little bit at the end there but that’s just getting the rust off the legs and getting into game shape.”

Williamson’s goal gave Seattle a 1-0 lead in the first period but Everett would equal it with a goal from Jake Christiansen.

It was a rocky first period for Seattle, as the Thunderbirds were whistled for five penalties and were sloppy. Some of that may have been due to the fact that the team has not had much practice time and the lines were thrown together.

“Sometimes you don’t read the guy but it will come,” Rybinski said about playing with new linemates. “It just comes with time at practice. We’ll be a lot sharper come the season. We’ve just got to keep on working on communicating and talking after.”

The Thunderbirds would grab the lead midway through the third period while short handed. Keltie Jeri-Leon snapped a shot after Graeme Bryks won a faceoff. The shot beat Everett goalie Braden Holt clean.

Seattle looked like it was on its way to a victory before the late goal by Goncalves.

“I’m happy with the third, the response there,” O’Dette said. “We picked it up and played better as a team, implemented more of our game plan that wasn’t happening in the first 40 minutes.”

The Thunderbirds will now head to Kennewick for a games Friday and Saturday.

Seattle still has major decisions to make up front. They have more forwards than there are roster spots and the next couple of games, and weeks are crucial.

“It’s simple math, you can’t keep 22 forwards,” O’Dette said. “We’re seeing who steps up and wants to make a team. The evaluations will continue throughout the week. Some guys are going to pro camps so it will be an opportunity to see some guys and get a better look at them next weekend.”

Game Notes

• Seattle had to play much of the game down three forwards. Matthew Rempe was given ten-minute misconduct in the first period, Brecon Wood was given a late misconduct for a mouthguard violation, and Jaxan Kaluski was injured with what appeared to be a knee injury.

“Fingers crossed that it’s not too bad,” O’Dette said of Kaluski injury. “When he went down we certainly missed his presence and all the intangibles he brings to the team.”

• Despite the loss, Seattle had a successful weekend, winning two of three.

“There’s a lot of good things,” O’Dette said. “If this is the regular season and you get a five-point weekend, you’ll obviously take that. There’s a lot to work on but I like the way we played. We played hard and played with the T-Bird identity.”

• Before the weekend started, Seattle picked up defenseman Hunter Donohoe from the Red Deer Rebels. He did not play in any of the three games due to what O’Dette classified as an ‘illness’.

• Seattle scratched Jordan Gustafson, Sam Popowich, Conner Bruggen-Cate, Mekai Sanders, Kai Uchacz, Andrej Kukuca, Payton Mount, Conner Roulette, Lucas Ciona, Jared Davidson, Spencer Penner, Tyrel Bauer, Hunter Donohoe, and Thomas Milic.