Mistakes prove costly as Thunderbirds drop Game 1 to Silvertips
EVERETT – The Thunderbirds Game 1 fortunes were summed up by one play early in the second period Friday night at the Angels of the Winds Arena.
Trailing the Everett Silvertips 1-0, the Thunderbirds started the second period on the power play with a golden opportunity to tie the game and gain some momentum. However, a bad pass would lead to a rush the other way and end with Patrick Bajkov scoring to give the Silvertips a 2-0 lead, less than two minutes into the second.
“We didn’t execute on the breakout and turned it over,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “It resulted in the shorthanded goal. That was a momentum swing going the wrong direction for us. I thought we were chasing the game after that.”
The Thunderbirds would chase but come up short as they dropped Game 1 by a 4-1 final score. With the win, Everett takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series in what was the largest margin of victory in the season series between the two teams.
Bajkov scored twice for Everett as Carter Hart turned away 25 Seattle shots in the win. The loss snapped an eight-game post season win streak the Thunderbirds held over their Puget Sound Rivals.
It was a night where the Thunderbirds weren’t able to generate enough traffic and shots and would be done in by too many mistakes.
“I think start of the game we were banging but we weren’t creating too much,” Nolan Volcan said. “My line, me, (Matthew Wedman) and Sami (Moilanen), going dash three is not good enough.”
The shorthanded goal was a turning point and another momentum swing came later in the second period.
After the Silvertips took a 3-0 lead on Bajkov’s second goal, the Thunderbirds would get one back when Zack Andrusiak tipped an Austin Strand point shot past Hart at 7:03 of the second period. The goal was another chance for the Thunderbirds to get some momentum and claw back into the game.
However, another turnover would cost them.
Just over three minutes later, Bryce Kindopp picked the pocket of a Seattle defender at the side of the Thunderbirds net. Before goalie Liam Hughes could react, Kindopp had deposited the puck in the goal to give the Silvertips their 4-1 lead.
It would be a Seattle turnover that led to Everett’s first goal, off the stick of Garret Pilon. He ended up on a two-on-one rush and would fire a wrist shot over Liam Hughes’ shoulder. The Seattle goalie would end the night with 42 in his first playoff appearance.
The Thunderbirds were outshot 46-26 by Everett and did not create many quality scoring chances.
“I’ll have to take a look at the video but I thought we were a little bit cute at times,” O’Dette said. “Not following some pucks to the net that we could have. You have to throw multiple opportunities at Hart to beat him. You’re not going to beat him by perimeter shots.”
As Seattle prepares for Saturday’s Game 2, it will have to find a way to create a more consistent offensive approach.
“Obviously they’re really good defensively,” Volcan said. “We just need to get shots off the rush. Can’t be looking to make the extra pass, start crashing. Hart’s a good goalie and you have to get in his face in the paint and put some in.”
Special teams were a focus coming into the series and neither team would find the net on the power play. Seattle missed on both of its opportunities while the Silvertips were 0-for-4 on the night, however, they did pick up the big shorthanded tally.
Playoff series are often about the adjustments teams make as the series progresses and O’Dette said that he and his staff will take a look at their options when it comes to Saturday’s Game 2.
“There’s a lot of hockey to go,” O’Dette said. “It’s a seven-game series. It’s going to be a drag ‘em out affair. We’ll regroup and pick our head’s up for tomorrow night.”
Seattle had five rookies in its line up Friday and a host of other players who are experiencing the WHL playoffs for the first time. The veteran leaders will be key helping the team get back on track for Saturday.
“We win tomorrow we still get the home ice back so nothing to freak out about,” the veteran Volcan said. “We have one bad game. It just makes you want to play again quicker. I know, me, Sami and ‘Weds want to get out there as soon as possible.”
Game 2 is Saturday night at the Angels of the Winds Arena at 7 pm.
• Blake Bargar was back in the lineup for Seattle on Saturday. He had not played since suffering an upper-body injury back on Feb. 18th.
• Seattle also had 2017 first-round pick Payton Mount in the lineup. The rookie was on a line with Dillon Hamaliuk and centered by Noah Philp. He did not figure in the scoring.
• Mount was on the wrong end of a big hit in the first period thrown by Everett’s Jake Christiansen. It appeared to be a hit to the head but there was no call on the ice. “Didn’t get the call,” is all that O’Dette said about the play.
• Friday was the first Game 1 that Seattle has lost since losing in overtime to Brandon during the 2016 WHL Championship Series.