THUNDERBIRDS

T-Birds lose 4-3 to Kamloops in overtime despite 55 shots on goal

Nov 30, 2016, 10:38 PM | Updated: 10:43 pm

For the second straight Wednesday evening the Seattle Thunderbirds found themselves butting heads, and a ton of pucks, against one of junior hockey’s best goaltenders.

Last week it was Carter Hart in Everett and this Wednesday it was Kamloops Blazers’ goalie Connor Ingram at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.

The T-Birds fired 55 shots at Ingram and scored three goals but found themselves on the short end of the stick as Devon Sideroff scored his second of the night, in overtime, to give the Blazers a 4-3 win.

“It was a combination of their goalie playing well and we were casual on a couple of plays,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said afterwards. “Three or four major casual moments. When you’re going well, you can’t fall asleep and have a casual moment.”

It was a casual moment that gave Kamloops the lead 17 seconds into the game. A T-Bird defenseman fell in the zone which allowed Garret Pilon room to feed Rudolfs Balcers on the door step.

After Seattle had taken a 2-1 lead late in the second period, it was a casual moment that allowed the Blazers to tie it, despite being outshot 38-9 at that point. The T-Birds fumbled the puck away in their own end while on the power play and Sideroff scored his first from the slot.

“It’s a bouncing puck in the slot and we weren’t strong enough to stop it and over-skated it,” Konowalchuk said of the play. “Then we didn’t have enough desperation to go and block the shot. It’s a big play against.”

The goal had erased a lot of good work turned in by the T-Birds.

After the early first-period goal, Seattle put the pressure on Kamloops and their goalie. They fired 18 shots at Ingram, a Tampa Bay Lightning third round pick, and finally got one past him late. Scott Eansor got a chance that Ingram stopped but Ethan Bear was there to knock home the rebound for his eighth goal of the season.

Seattle took the lead early in the second as it continued the onslaught on Ingram. Ryan Gropp got in close and was poke-checked by Ingram. The puck went right to Barzal in the slot and he scored his second of the season.

From there, the T-Birds continued to dominate the play. They only allowed four Kamloops’ shots, but it was that fourth one that was costly. Sideroff tied it at two with the short-handed goal and the Blazers had life.

“That team had absolutely nothing going in the second period,” Konowalchuk said. “Next thing you now they’re in the game at 2-2. It definitely gave them some juice.”

The Blazers took that juice into the second period and managed to grab a lead.

Pilon had the puck up deep and the T-Birds defenders collapsed on him. They didn’t see Spencer Bast coming off the bench. Pilon did and he got the puck to Bast who got it up and over Matthew Berlin’s shoulder.

Berlin was making his third straight start for the injured Rylan Toth and ended the night with 17 saves.

The T-Birds fought back to tie the game on a power-play goal from Gropp who scored from the high slot.

With 30 seconds left in the third, Eansor was called for tripping which gave Kamloops a late power play. They didn’t score in regulation but with the 4-on-3 in the overtime, Sideroff had room to cruise through the high slot and beat Berlin with a wrist shot.

The star of the game was Ingram, who ended with 52 saves and a win. Earlier in the week, the goalie was invited to Team Canada’s World Junior camp and he showed why. The T-Birds generated numerous scoring chances, many of them were of the grade-A variety, but he stopped them all.

“He played really good and we had some real good looks,” Konowalchuk said of Ingram. “You have to give that goalie credit. Could we have created a bit more traffic? Yeah. There were a couple of back-door chances where we assumed he wouldn’t be able to get them, but he was pretty good.”

Seattle ended the night by picking up one point in the standings but it was a game that it played well enough, at least offensively, to have picked up the two. It was a night that had to be frustrating for the club.

“I’m sure there’s some frustration but there also needs to be a little bit of looking in the mirror,” Konowalchuk said. “We shouldn’t give up four goals.”

Notes

• The Blazers snapped a four-game losing streak to Seattle with the win.

• Barzal had a goal and an assist to give him two goals and seven assists in his last three games.

• Konowalchuk said that there was a chance that Toth would be healthy enough to get back between the pipes over this coming weekend.

• Seattle’s 55 shots were the most the club has put up in a game this season. The previous high was the 46 shots they fired two weeks ago in Portland. Like Wednesday, the T-Birds lost that game in overtime.

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