THUNDERBIRDS

T-Birds come up short in 3-1 loss to Spokane

Dec 13, 2016, 10:40 PM
Seattle's Sami Moilanen fights for position during the T-Birds 3-1 loss to Spokane (Brian Liesse/T-...
Seattle's Sami Moilanen fights for position during the T-Birds 3-1 loss to Spokane (Brian Liesse/T-Birds)
(Brian Liesse/T-Birds)

KENT – The Thunderbirds were back home Tuesday night and found themselves in a tight, low-scoring game with the Spokane Chiefs.

Spokane would score a power-play goal midway through the third period and then add a late empty-net score to skate away with a 3-1 win over the T-Birds at the ShoWare Center. Jaret Anderson-Dolan notched the game-winner while Keegan Kolesar scored the lone Seattle tally.

The loss was the third in the last four games for Seattle as the holiday break looms.

“I think the special teams were the difference,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “They get two power-play goals and we don’t score on ours. We’ve got to get our power play going here.”

Seattle ended the night 0-for-3 with the man advantage while Spokane went 1-for-6 officially, although it scored its first goal just as a power play was ending.

The killer was the Anderson-Dolan score in the third.

With the game tied at one he picked up the puck in the zone, skated across the slot and fired a wrist shot that Seattle goalie Rylan Toth had little chance at. It was Anderson-Dolan’s 17th of the season and gave Spokane the 2-1 lead.

“We take the penalties, we get called for the penalties and they score on one of them,” Konowalchuk said. “That’s the difference in the game, right there. We can’t be the team taking the penalty in the third period.”

Seattle took two penalties in the third which not only cost them a goal but hurt their chances to score.

The T-Birds put 30 shots on Spokane goalie Dawso Weatherill but could only beat him one time. It’s the second time that Weatherill has shut down the T-Birds at the ShoWare Center. Back on Oct. 11 he made 44 saves as Spokane won again by a 3-1 score.

One power-play goal by the T-Birds and the game might have gone a different direction.

“Different things at times,” Konowalchuk said about his power play that has now failed to score on 14 straight attempts. “Previous it was being a little too stagnant. This one here I thought early on we wanted to get too cute in the neutral zone, that was the problem. When we get chances, we have to execute them.”

Seattle got on the board first in the second period when Ryan Gropp picked the puck up in the neutral zone and sped into the Spokane end. With the Chiefs’ defenders watching him, he flipped a perfect pass to a crashing Kolesar. The big winger buried the shot for his fourth goal of the season. It was the third straight game that Kolesar has found the back of the net in.

The Chiefs would tie later in the period just after a power play had ended. Toth’s initial save was followed up on by a crashing Ethan McIndoe who poked it in for his seventh.

That would set up the third period where Anderson-Dolan would put the chiefs ahead and Kailer Yamamoto would seal the deal with a last second empty-net goal.

The T-Birds now have two weekend games left before the league shuts down for the holiday break. With the team scuffling a bit, Seattle is looking to go out feeling good.

“You see how tight the race is and it’s going to be tight so we want to get some points here and go home feeling good,” Konowalchuk said. “We want to set ourselves up in position to have a good second half.”

The T-Birds will have to do it without Mathew Barzal, who has already left the team for the World Junior Championships, and now without Alexander True. Tuesday was True’s last game before he heads out to join Team Denmark.

With two of their top centers gone, new lines will have to come together for the weekend, and the month of December.

“A little bit of a breather here,” Konowalchuk said. “We’ve had a lot of travel and a lot of hockey games, it will feel good to have two games here.”

Notes

• Spokane out shot the T-Birds 33-30 which is only the second time in the last 13 games that Seattle has been out shot.

• With the loss in Prince George Saturday and Tuesday’s loss the T-Birds have lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all season.

• Spokane rookie Koby Morrisseau left the game in the second period after getting hit by Turner Ottenbreit. He did not return to the game.

• With the recent power-play struggles the T-Birds have now dropped to 18th in the WHL with the man advantage.

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