THUNDERBIRDS

Thunderbirds pounded by the Americans 7-3 in Kennewick

Feb 25, 2017, 7:57 AM

In the game of hockey, sometimes it’s just not your night.

That was the case Friday night for the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kennewick against the Tri City Americans. In an uncharacteristic performance, the Thunderbirds were blown out by the Americans 7-3 at the Toyota Center.

Tri City was led by Austin Playfair and Kyle Olson who each scored twice in the win. It was the second straight win for the Americans against Seattle, after dropping the first five contests.

“We’ve all got to be better,” Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “I have to make sure all our guys are ready. As a team we’ve got to be better. As a team, we were flat and I’ve got to do a better job of making sure we’re not flat.”

Things went South in a hurry for the Thunderbirds in this one.

Rookie goaltender Carl Stankowski made his first start since mid-October and showed that he had yet to shake off the rust from being out with injury. Tri City would score on its first shot at the rookie as Olson scored on a back-handed shot. Less than two minutes later Olson scored again when he planted a rebound to make it 2-0.

That would end the night for Stankowski as he gave way to Rylan Toth.

“He had rust and nerves I think,” Konowalchuk said of his rookie netminder. “It’s been a long time since he’s played a game and a tough time of year to get thrown in there. He’s a good goalie and I’m not worried about him.”

The T-Birds would cut into the lead later in the period on a Jarret Tyszka power-play goal but that’s as close as Seattle would get.

The Americans exploded for three goals in the first five minutes of the second period to put the game out of reach.

The carnage started 27 seconds into the middle frame when Playfair scored. That opened the gates and Tri City followed that up with markers from Nolan Yaremko and Keltie Jeri-Leon. Before the T-Birds could blink they were facing a 5-1 deficit.

“We got into the game a little bit there and they came back and scored the goals at the start of the period,” Konowalchuk said. “That was the game.”

Things got worse when Brett Leason scored his seventh of the season on a delayed penalty call to make it 6-1. That ended Toth’s night as Stankowski was given the call to come back in the game.

Seattle managed to stop the bleeding later in the period on a Keegan Kolesar power-play goal but the Americans would get their five-goal lead back late in the period as Playfair scored his second of the night.

That made it 7-2 and Tri City was in cruise control, on its way to a sixth straight win.

Austin Strand would score a third-period goal to make the score look a bit better but it wouldn’t be enough as the T-Birds will have to regroup now, with two more big games on their weekend schedule.

“They shouldn’t be happy,” Konowalchuk said of his club. “I thought in the third some guys got going a little bit but even in the second I really thought we would pick up our work ethic but we didn’t. It’s about responding tomorrow, that’s the bottom line.”

Seattle will be tested on Saturday as they will play a Kelowna team that has been red hot and has beaten the T-Birds in the three previous match ups – all by lopsided scores.

“We want to play our best game against everybody,” Konowalchuk said. “Whoever we’re playing we want to play our best whether it’s Kelowna, Everett, Portland, whoever it is. We want to play our best game and play to our standards.”

Notes

• Mathew Barzal was held off the scoresheet on Friday for the first time in 10 games. Ethan Bear did pick up an assist and extended his scoring streak to 10 games.

• Stankowski returned to the game in the second period and found his rhythm. He made some strong saves and ended the night making 18 saves on 21 shots.

• Seattle’s power play continues to convert. They were 2-for-7 on the evening and now have a goal in each of their last 10 games.

• The loss dropped the Thunderbirds to three points back of the Everett Silvertips for the race in the U.S. Division. The Silvertips beat Portland at home on Friday. The two teams will meet on Sunday for a pivotal game at the ShoWare Center.

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