T-Birds fall to Prince George for third straight loss
Dec 17, 2016, 8:21 AM | Updated: 3:13 pm
KENT – After their third straight loss Friday night, the Seattle Thunderbirds aren’t feeling the holiday spirit.
The Prince George Cougars broke open a tie game in the second period on their way to a 3-2 win over the T-Birds at the ShoWare Center.
“Once they scored that second goal there, I thought we got on our heels,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said.
After outshooting Prince George in the first period and tying the game at one, the T-Birds only managed seven shots in the second. The Cougars, on the other hand, put 13 shots up on the board and scored twice.
For the second straight game, the T-Birds struggled to find consistent offense and were limited in their scoring chances against Cougars goalie Nick McBride, who made 25 saves. The T-Birds were again without Mathew Barzal and Alexander True, both of whom are at their respective World Junior camps.
“There’s guys who aren’t playing their best,” Konowalchuk said about the Seattle offense. “There’s some offensive guys who aren’t playing their best. It’s not just about creating offense, it’s about compete level. There are a couple of guys who have to get going in that area.”
Colby McAuley got Prince George going early in the game when he flung a puck at the Seattle net from a sharp angle. The shot somehow found a seam and its way past goalie Rylan Toth for the game’s first goal. It was McAuley’s 13th tally of the year and came just 56 seconds into the contest.
Seattle settled down after that goal and began to generate shots and chances. The T-Birds would cash in on one of those when Scott Eansor scored his 16th of the year on a wraparound. He carried the puck behind the net and hammered on the breaks, which fooled McBride and gave Eansor the room he needed in front.
“The rest of the first period was pretty good,” Konowalchuk said. “They get that first goal and then I thought we just kept playing.”
The Cougars took control of the game in the second period.
They took advantage of slow Seattle line change, which gave room to Brad Morrison to score his 15th of the season. Prince George would then take advantage of a T-Birds penalty as Yan Khomenko banged home a puck on the back door to make it 3-1.
“There were a couple of mistakes,” Konowalchuk said. “We made some mistakes earlier and then changed at the wrong time, the kinds of things we try not to do. They made a little push to get that second goal and I think that was the difference, the way they pushed in the second period.”
The T-Birds’ offensive struggles continued in the third period, although they did get some chances late. Keegan Kolesar was stopped on a penalty shot and they had a late power-play chance that they failed to convert on.
Seattle generated a glimmer of hope when Nolan Volcan tipped an Ethan Bear shot past McBride with just over a minute to go. That made the score 3-2, but it was as close as Seattle would get.
The T-Birds have one more game to play before the players will disperse to their homes for the holidays. They will take on the Tri City Americans Saturday night at the ShoWare Center, and they will be looking to hit the break on a positive note.
“We have enough guys in the lineup to still win hockey games,” Konowalchuk said about Saturday’s game. “We certainly want to feel good about ourselves. Points are big, points are going to be big the rest of the way.”
• The T-Birds acquired Tyler Adams from the Swift Current Broncos earlier in the week. Adams made his Seattle debut Friday night and played a physical game. He also got into a scrap with Prince George’s Kody McDonald in the second period.
• Toth ended the night with 31 saves on 34 shots.
• Seattle was 0 for 2 on the power play and has now failed to convert on its last 16 chances.
• Prince George was playing without 19-goal scorer Jesse Gabrielle. The Boston Bruins’ prospect was nursing a minor injury.