T-Birds beat Spokane for third straight win

Oct 17, 2012, 10:05 AM | Updated: 10:10 am

SEA SPO Jan 16 12 44212
Alex Delnov (24) and the T-Birds celebrate their fifth goal against Spokane. (Seattle Thunderbirds photo)

By Andrew Eide

The Thunderbirds hosted the red-hot Spokane Chiefs on Tuesday and proved that they may be as equally red-hot. Seattle battled the Chiefs for two periods before pulling away in the third period to earn a 6-4 win for their third win in a row and their fourth win in the last five.

Seattle started the game with 10 to 15 minutes of strong hockey. They pinned Spokane in their own end, tilted the ice and outshoot the Chiefs 6-1 to start the first period. That hard work paid off in the game’s first goal as Connor Honey fired a shot on goal that was stopped by Eric Williams. Williams, however, could not control the rebound which went to Luke Lockhart, who banged it home.

“I really liked our first 10 to 15 minutes,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “Guys were right on, finishing their checks, doing all the little things and it went a long way for the rest of the game.”

Spokane pushed back in the last five minutes of the period and had some big shifts that created a bunch of chances but they weren’t able to get the puck past Brandon Glover.

The Chiefs did carry the momentum they built at the end of the first into the second, however. Twenty-four seconds into the second, Spokane’s Mitch Holmberg blocked a shot at the point and it sprung him on a breakaway. He was able to beat Glover on the play for his 10th goal of the year and Spokane had tied the game just like that. The Chiefs struck again 40 seconds later when they stole the puck in the neutral zone and Mikulas Rimmel carried it in the zone and scored to give the Chiefs the lead.

Early in the season the T-Birds did not handle adversity well and might have let two goals like that sink them. Tuesday night was different as they kept their emotion into it with a couple of push-back shifts and a jump when Justin Hickman got in a fight with Carter Proft.

“They scored and we were a little flat,” Konowalchuk said. “I tell you what, Swenson went out and nearly created a two-on-one the very next shift and then Hickman went out and did a great job to get us going again and that took the game back for us.”

Seattle didn’t waste any time after the fight as Alex Delnov picked up a loose puck in Spokane’s zone and scored his third goal on the season. Less than three minutes later Seattle took the lead back on a pretty play that started with Jesse Forsberg taking a big point shot that Williams stopped but gave up a rebound that Brendan Rouse picked up and passed to Connor Sanvido, who had an empty net and knocked home his first goal of the season.

The lead did not last long, however, as Spokane’s Adam Helewka had the puck behind the Seattle net and appeared to bank a shot off the back of Glover’s leg and in the net. The teams then began an entertaining, high energy back and forth for most of the remainder of the period.

Seattle took the lead for good just before the end of the second when Branden Troock got the puck in front of Spokane’s net, waited out the defenseman and hit a streaking Sanvido, who buried a top-shelf shot for his second of the game.

“I saw him, I chipped it to him (Troock),” Sanvido said. “I yelled for it back, he’s a good player he got it to me and I put it upstairs and that’s all she wrote. I started the season a bit slow there but now we’ve got all four lines going so it’s good.”

With the lead in the third Seattle scored a power-play goal as Delnov’s big slapper found the back of the net for his second of the game and the T-Birds built a two-goal lead. The rest of the period they held off Spokane, who pushed Seattle hard. It wasn’t until there was under three minutes left, with their goalie pulled, that the Chiefs scored again to cut the lead to 5-4. Lockhart sealed the deal when he got control of the puck a minute later and out raced the Chiefs defenseman down the ice for the empty netter that sealed the deal.

“Pretty solid game,” Konowalchuk said. “We would have liked to keep pushing the pace offensively a little more when we got the lead there in the third but they were coming at us pretty hard and we bent but didn’t break. Overall that’s a good hockey team over there, they play really hard and I thought we matched their intensity and at times were pretty strong.”

Seattle’s record goes to 5-3-0-0 with the win while Spokane falls to 6-3-0-0. The two teams will do it again on Friday night in Spokane.

Notes

• With Sanvido scoring two goals in this game Seattle now has 14 different players who have scored. The depth on the team continues to show. “We need everybody to chip in, a different night it’s going to be different guys and ‘Vido had a great game,” Konowalchuk said.

• Brandon Troock played his first game after missing more than a week with the flu. He looked good, picking up an assist and throwing some nice checks. “For a guy who had not been able to do a whole ton he had a good game, I thought his legs got a little tired at the end but he’s a player that can change the game,” Konowalchuk said.

• With the six goals the T-Birds have now scored 17 goals in their last three games (all wins) and are now averaging 3.8 goals a game. That is a huge improvement over their 2.4 goals per game they had last year.

• Seattle had three players score two goals last night (Lockhart, Delnov and Sanvido).

• Mitch Elliot was a scratch as he appears to have the same illness that Troock suffered from.

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