T-Birds rookies shine in overtime win over Portland
KENT – Tied at three in overtime Saturday night, Seattle’s Jarret Tyszka wouldn’t be denied.
After coming close on two chances early in the extra frame he finally ended it with a highlight reel score against the Portland Winterhawks. He crashed the Portland net, was tripped, and from his back was able to slide the puck past goalie Cole Kehler. It was his fifth goal of the year and it gave Seattle an exciting 4-3 overtime win in front of 5,667 fans at the accesso ShoWare Center.
“I just saw an opening and (Matthew) Wedman got it to me,” Tyszka said of the goal. “I went to the net and kind of got hooked. He saved it and I tried whacking it again, I got lucky there.”
Seattle (17-14-4-1) was able to overcome a depleated Portland (22-12-1-1) club that was led by two Skyler McKenzie goals and had a one-goal lead entering the third period. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Winterhawks had an impressive 18-0-0-1 record when leading after 40 minutes.
For the second straight night, the Thunderbirds overcame the odds and found a way to grind out a win. It was the first win in overtime for the club as they had been 0-4 in previous chances.
Liam Hughes came back from injury to step in for Matt Berlin, who was injured Friday night, and made 31 stops despite not playing for over a month.
“Credit to our guys again,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “We’re not at our best for times of the game. But we have that ‘stick to it’ I guess. We had some time where we implemented our game plan and spent time in their end. We created a little bit more momentum in the third period and overtime.”
It was Seattle’s rookies that helped get back into it.
In the second period, rookie Jake Lee scored to tie the game at one. Early in the third, fellow newcomver Samual Huo snapped a shot from the slot for his first career goal. It came just 10 seconds into the third period and tied the game at two.
Nikita Malukhin and Dillon Hamaliuk also had big assists.
“It’s nice to see them develop,” O’Dette said. “We don’t have any extra guys right now so they’re going to get extra ice time and they’re going to be in the lineup so they’re thriving with the opportunity.”
After a scoreless opening period, the Winterhawks got on the board first thanks to a McKenzie sharp-angle power play goal at 44 seconds of the second. It was the Winnipeg Jets’ prospect’s 25th marker of the year.
The Thunderbirds answered right back however as Lee fired a shot through a screen that beat goalie Cole Kahler just 17 seconds later.
Portland would get its lead back late in the period, again on the power play, as Alex Overhardt finished a rush up ice at 15:14 for his eighth tally. That 2-1 lead would be erased by Huo’s marker early in the third when he snapped a shot after a nice feed from Zack Andrusiak past Kehler.
“It feels good,” the rookie said of his first career goal. “I got a good pass from ‘Andy in front and I was able to bury that.”
McKenzie would strike again for Portland five minutes after however with his second of the night and it looked like it would be the final blow.
Seattle was short-handed five times and the Winterhawks converted twice. For the majority of the game, the Thunderbirds were unable to draw a penalty of their own, and the frustration was showing as the game wore on.
When the Thunderbirds finally did get a power play, midway through the period, they converted when Nolan Volcan tipped an Andrusiak shot in for his 16th goal of the season.
That would set up the overtime heroics for Tyszka as the Thunderbirds now have earned points in thier last five games.
“There’s a lot of positive signs,” O’Dette said. of the win. “I think early on in the season we’re maybe more fragile and wouldn’t find ways to win these games. We’re learning not to panic and to keep plugging away.”
The two teams will play again on Sunday night in the annual New Year’s Eve game in Portland.
• O’Dette didn’t have an update on Berlin’s situation but was impressed with Hughes being able to return from injury. The goalie hadn’t played in a game since November 11th.
• Volcan’s goal tied his career high and he extended his goal-scoring streak to five straight games.
• Andrusiak continues to have a strong season. With two points on Saturday he extended his point streak to eight games, a span that has seen him pile up 14 points.
• Portland was without a lot of fire power on Saturday. Kiefer Bellows, Henri Jokiharju, and Joachim Blichfeld are all off competing for their respective countries at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo. They were also without Cody Glass and Keoni Texeira, who were out with injuries.