THUNDERBIRDS

T-Birds blow third-period lead, lose in overtime to Spokane

Dec 27, 2017, 10:27 PM | Updated: 10:27 pm
The Spokane Chiefs celebrate Zach Fisher's overtime winner against the Seattle Thunderbirds (Larry ...
The Spokane Chiefs celebrate Zach Fisher's overtime winner against the Seattle Thunderbirds (Larry Brunt)
(Larry Brunt)

The Seattle Thunderbirds were back in Spokane on Wednesday night and kicked away a point in the standings.

Seattle never trailed at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena but surrendered two third period goals and would end up losing 5-4 in overtime. Zach Fisher potted the game-winner for the Chiefs at 3:46 of the overtime period for his second goal of the night.

The Thunderbirds picked up goals from four different goal scorers while goalie Matt Berlin made 37 shots in the defeat.

“Throughout the course of the game they kind of wore us down,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “In the third period we didn’t take care of the puck at times which led to shifts in our end, which led to goals against.”

Seattle (15-14-4-1) built a lead but would get out shot 14-4 in the third period as the Chiefs would score three times to send the game into overtime. In the extra frame, the Thunderbirds were chasing the puck as Spokane (19-13-1-2) picked up all five shots and would end up celebrating on the ice.

Despite some third-period troubles in the first half of the year, coming into the game the Thunderbirds were 9-2-1-0 when leading after two periods. Giving up the lead was uncharacteristic.

“We had some extended time in our end,” O’Dette said. “Which throughout the course of the game wore us down. We had some guys who weren’t going so we couldn’t roll our lines like we wanted to and a lot of guys played a lot of minutes.”

Seattle scored twice on the power play on three attempts but found itself shorthanded too many times. Spokane had six power-play chances and converted on one. While the Thunderbirds penalty kill was strong on the night, that many chances can lead to fatigue.

O’Dette felt that perhaps his team should have had more chances itself as well.

“The officiating wasn’t even,” O’Dette said. “There were multiple calls they could have called in our favor in the third but they decided to put the whistle away. That’s a factor as well, too many kills. We kill with our top guys and that leads to the fatigue towards the end of the game.”

After picking up five points last time out against Spokane, Nolan Volcan picked up where he left off late in the first period. On a Seattle power play, Volcan was camped in front of the Chiefs’ goal and put back a rebound off of an Austin Strand slap shot. The goal, his 14th, came at 17:54 of the opening frame and gave Seattle a 1-0 lead that it would take into the first intermission.

Spokane came out of the gates in the second buzzing and would even the game when Fischer tipped in a Jaret Anderson-Dolan shot at 6:16 for his first of the night.

The Chiefs buzzed the Thunderbirds and Berlin for most of the second period. They would out shoot them 11-4 to start the period but Seattle would find a way to get the lead back.

Late in the period, at the 14:14 mark, Blake Bargar broke into the Chiefs zone with Matthew Wedman. Bargar got the puck to Wedman and he would slide it past Spokane goalie Donovan Buskey for his fifth of the year.

Seattle would then go to work on the power play and Reece Harsch would pound a slap shot past a screened Buskey at 17:20 for his seventh of the season and the Thunderbirds would go to the third period with a two-goal advantage at 3-1.

The third period would be a problem for the Thunderbirds.

Hudson Elyniuk would score from the side of the goal to cut the lead to one at 6:28 while on a Spokane power play. Anderson-Dolan would then wheel into the Seattle zone five minutes later and score from the blue line to tie the game.

Dillon Hamaliuk would put Seattle back on top at 4-3 at 14:38 when he found a way to get a shot past Buskey from a tight angle. Buskey would end the night making 25 saves for the Chiefs.

While it looked like perhaps Hamaliuk’s marker would be enough for the Thunderbirds, a turnover deep in their own end would prove costly. Elyniuk picked up the puck and found Riley Woods in front of the net and he would bury his 14th of the season at 16:12.

That tied the game and set up Fisher’s second goal, in overtime.

“To beat a team like Spokane on the road, you have to have everybody going and we didn’t have everybody going,” O’Dette said. “So, when they have lots of depth with their lines, if we don’t have guys going, it’s tough to win that way.”

The Thunderbirds will return home for a busy weekend of hockey. They will host Spokane again, for the third straight time, on Friday before a home-and-home with the Portland Winterhawks. Playing the same team three straight times, and four times in a month, is an oddity for sure.

“We’ll make some adjustments after watching the video,” O’Dette said. “You get to know a team real quick and their tendencies. We don’t expect any major tweaks, but you develop rivalries that way. They’re divisional games and important games.”

Notes

• Seattle captain Turner Ottenbreit picked up two assists on the night.

• The Thunderbirds are now 0-4 in games decided in overtime.

• Seattle was without Sami Moilanen who suffered an injury while training with Team Finland. The injury was described as minor but it will keep him off the Finnish roster and he won’t be competing for the World Junior Championships in Buffalo. His return date to the T-Birds lineup is unknown.

• Volcan’s hot streak continued with his first-period goal. He has seven points in his last three games.

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