Tri City trips up Thunderbirds in Kennewick
It took them six tries, but the Tri City Americans finally found a way to beat the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night.
Seattle had won the first five meetings between the two clubs, and despite scoring first at the Toyota Center Friday, it surrendered four straight Americans scores to drop a 4-2 decision. Seattle got goals from Ethan Bear and Keegan Kolesar but it wasn’t enough to avoid its second loss in three games.
Tri City picked up goals from four different scorers to go with 25 saves by Rylan Parenteau to pick up a much needed win against their division rivals.
With the loss, the Thunderbirds fell to three points behind the Everett Silvertips for first place in the U.S. Division.
“I didn’t think we were ready to play in the first period,” Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “We scored on the power play there and then I think we kind of let them out-compete us and they got momentum off of that.”
Bear opened the scoring early on for Seattle. He took a pass from Ryan Gropp and blasted a slap shot from the point while on the Seattle power play. It was Bear’s 23rd of the season and the play extended Gropp’s scoring streak to 14 game. Mathew Barzal added an assist to extend his own streak to eight games.
The Thunderbirds weren’t able to hold the lead, however, as Tri City stormed back with two scores in the first period. Both came on plays where goalie Rylan Toth was screened by American players. Morgan Geekie would tie the game on a power-play score, his 32nd of the season, and then Dakota Krebs scored his third of the year to give Tri City the lead.
“It just wasn’t our best night,” Konowalchuk said. “Maybe we relaxed after we scored that goal. It definitely wasn’t our best overall effort as a team.”
Seattle would push for the equalizer in the second period but Parenteau wouldn’t open the door and instead of getting the game square, the T-Birds fell further behind.
Tri City would score twice in the last three minutes of the frame to take a 4-1 lead. The first came from Tyler Sandhu and then Dylan Coghlan converted on a power-play chance with under a minute to go.
“I thought we started to get some momentum back before they got their third and fourth goal,” Konowalchuk said. “But then they get a couple of chances and score and that makes it real tough….the next thing you know, it’s 4-1.”
Kolesar would score on a Seattle power play during the first 30 seconds of the third period to give the Thunderbirds some life. They picked up their play and came close on a number of occasions but Parenteau made his best saves of the night to keep Seattle from getting any closer.
“There were chances,” Konowalchuk said. “Maybe you get one more goal there, you don’t know what happens.”
Unfortunately for Konowalchuk and the Thunderbirds, that goal never came and they will now return home looking to regain some momentum.
Seattle played shorthanded again on Friday night as Scott Eansor, Nolan Volcan and Matthew Wedman all continue to sit due to injuries. Friday’s game was the first of three straight this weekend so energy and fatigue will certainly be hurdles for the T-Birds to overcome.
Saturday night, they’ll face their biggest rivals in the Portland Winterhawks at the ShoWare Center. It’s the first of a home-in-home as Seattle will be in Portland on Sunday.
Despite the schedule and short roster, Seattle will have to find a way to get that energy level back up again.
“I hope the energy comes because we’re upset we lost one,” Konowalchuk said. “That should give us enough motivation to make sure we’re at our best tomorrow. The guys want to win, You saw it in the third period, there was some desperation there. They didn’t want to go down without a fight.”
• The Seattle power play continues to be a positive. Both goals Friday night came on the power play and the Thunderbirds ended the night 2-for-5. They have now scored 12 power-play goals over their last six games.
• There is no update as to how soon Seattle’s injured players will return. Eansor and Wedman are still listed as week-to-week while Volcan is listed as day-to-day. Wyatt Bear is also out and listed as day-to-day.
• Bear’s goal in the first period also extended a point-streak for him. The Edmonton Oliers’ prospect has points in his last seven games.
• Saturday’s game against Portland will be televised on Joe TV and starts at 6 p.m. to allow for the annual Hockey Challenge alumni-celebrity game that will follow.