Victoria breaks away from T-Birds 4-1
By Andrew Eide
The T-Birds played the first of back-to-back games against the Victoria Royals Tuesday night and came up short by a 4-1 score. It was a familiar formula for Seattle as they played well at times, had chances but still came up short. Victoria goalie Patrick Polivka was the star as he stymied Seattle’s shooters all night in making 26 saves on 27 shots.
Seattle T-Birds goalie Brandon Glover also played well, back in his home town, but did not get a lot of help from the guys in front of him. He gave up three goals and he didn’t have much of a chance on any of them. Seattle gave up one goal off a face off and the other two on bad two-on-one breakaways.
“We did a terrible job of defending the breakdowns,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “That’s, to me, a controllable thing. Or defense has to take away the back door pass.”
Victoria opened the scoring in the first period half way through the period as Jamie Crooks snapped a puck off the face off that beat Glover. They then took a two goal lead seven minutes later on the first two-on-one. Brandon Magee got Alex Gogolev the puck with a wide open net that he easily tapped the puck into. Seattle had many chances in the first period but could not get the puck past Polivka, who made several stellar saves.
That would be the refrain for the rest of the night.
“Our forwards have to generate more scoring,” Konowalchuk said. “You have to score more than one goal to win the hockey game.”
Seattle got that one goal early in the second as Shea Theodore pounded home a power play goal on a wicked slap shot from the point. At that point, down 2-1 it seemed that Seattle might be on the comeback trail. They were buzzing, controlling the play and getting good chances on Polivka. They went on another power play 12 minutes into the second period and after having several good chances found themselves giving up another two-on-one just as the power play ended. Victoria’s Steven Hodges got the shot that Glover stopped but then the puck rebounded off Jerret Smith’s stick and in.
The goal gave the Royals a 3-1 lead which with the way Polivka was playing turned out to be more than enough. While the goal was an unfortunate break for the T-Birds Konowalchuk felt that it should have been avoided by not giving up the break away in the first place. Seattle kept pushing through the third period but could not generate any offense or get anything past Polivka who shut the door the rest of the way.
“It (scoring) is something we have to get better at,” Konowalchuk said. “We have to take the hits in order to score. Territorial wise they didn’t hold us down and defensively we have to stop the break downs.”
Seattle and Victoria will play again on Wedensday night at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena and Seattle will have to make some adjustments if they want to avoid a repeat of Tuesday’s game.
“We got to compete harder in front of the net,” Konowalchuk says of the next game. “We have to go to the dirty areas of the ice and generate more chances.”
The win for Victoria was their third straight over the T-Birds this season. They beat Seattle earlier in the year by identical 6-2 scores at the ShoWare Center. At one point in the season it looked like Seattle might be able to catch the Royals in the Western Conference standings, something that seems impossible at this time.
Royals star Alex Gogolev appeared to get cut with an errant skate in the third period. After a collision in the boards he went down clutching his ankle and after being attended to on the ice he skated off with a trail of blood following him.
With both Everett and Prince George idle last night Seattle missed a golden opportunity to make some head way in the playoff race. As it is they remained four points ahead of the Cougars and four points behind the Silvertips.
Follow Andrew on twitter at @andyeide