T-Birds blanked by Spokane 1-0

Sep 1, 2014, 6:13 AM | Updated: 10:01 am

EVERETT – The Thunderbirds finished the Everett Silvertips Preseason Holiday Classic Sunday by giving up too many shots and taking too many penalties and lost their first game of the preseason.

The Spokane Chiefs beat Seattle 1-0, outshooting the T-Birds 53-19 in the process. The T-Birds wasted an extraordinary performance by rookie goalie Logan Flodell, who kept them in the game by making 52 saves. Many of Flodell’s saves were from point-blank range as the Chiefs peppered the Seattle net all day long.

“(Flodell) battled hard and he gave us a chance to win all game long,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “He played a real good game.”

To make matters worse for themselves, the T-Birds took too many penalties and ended up shorthanded 10 times. The parade to the penalty box allowed Spokane to control the game and produce the contest’s only goal.

On their first power play of the night, the Chiefs picked up the goal when Adam Helewka somehow got a puck past Flodell after a scramble in front of Seattle’s net. From there, the T-Birds continued to take penalties and never got their offense going.

“That’s a lot of penalties, most of them deserved,” Konowalchuk said. “They were out-skating us, we weren’t advancing the puck out of our end very well and that’s why we spent too much time in there, and when you spend too much time in your own end, you end up taking penalties.”

The only bright spot for Seattle was the play of Flodell. The young goalie is vying for a spot in the T-Birds’ crowded crease and certainly helped his cause. The T-Birds finds themselves with three guys – including Taran Kozun and Danny Mumaugh – who are competing for two spots.

“There were lots of shots but I thought the team played well in front of me,” Flodell said. “We got into some penalty trouble, but that’s the game and you learn from it and you keep going forward.”

The Regina, Saskatchewan native made his WHL debut last January, filling for an injured Justin Myles. He got the win in a crazy 9-7 game at Prince George and said that the experience helped him coming into camp this season.

“I know I can play in this league,” Flodell said. “I just got to keep my work ethic up, I guess it kind of showed tonight, I got lots of shots.”

With some guys unable to play due to injury – especially in the forward group – the T-Birds were forced to go with a much younger lineup than perhaps they might have. Seattle’s players only combined for 11 WHL goals last season and were up against a Chiefs team that featured most of its regular forwards.

Despite that, Konowalchuk felt the team should have performed better.

“I think some of our forwards didn’t have the jump they had in the first two games,” Konowalchuk said of his younger guys. “No excuse for a couple of our defensemen, didn’t play as good as they needed to, they’re a better D than that.”

Seattle finished the weekend preseason exhibition with a record of 2-1 and will next play on Sept. 4 against Spokane again in Tri City.

Notes

• The T-Birds scratched Ryan Gropp and Mathew Barzal for all three games this weekend. Konowalchuk said both were “banged” up.

• Alexander True also missed the entire weekend. He was in Alberta at a Team Denmark try out and flew in late Saturday night.

• Seattle’s offense became less productive as Saturday’s game moved on. After 10 first-period shots, Seattle’s totals declined to six and then three in the final two periods.

• It was hard to find many positives in this game outside of Flodell, but Konowalchuk said he did like the Nolan Volcan and Kaden Elder line, which he referred to as “gutsy”.

• The weekend ended with each of the six teams winning at least one game. Portland beat Everett on Sunday night to be the only team to end the weekend unbeaten.

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