T-Birds squander two goal lead, lose 4-3
By Andrew Eide
The Seattle Thunderbirds traveled to Prince George Friday to take on a Cougars squad that had been playing with a lot of confidence. Seattle built a two goal lead in the second period only to have the Cougars strike back quickly to score three unanswered goals for the 4-3 victory.
For 50 minutes of the game Friday, Seattle played good solid hockey. They were sharp in their own end and were generating good scoring chances in the Prince George end. It was those ten minutes that turned out to be killer for the Thunderbirds.
After the game, Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk concurred saying, “Five to ten minutes there cost us the game, we got away from our game after the third goal.”
The game started well for Seattle, they came out with a solid first period with good puck possession and were generating chances that they just could not finish. Former T-Bird Colin Jacobs did manage to sneak behind the Seattle defense 15 minutes into the game, was drug down and was awarded with his second penalty shot of the young season. He was able to beat goalie Justin Myles on the free shot and the Cougars took a one goal lead.
The goal was disappointing as Seattle had been controlling the play and may have been a harbinger of what was to come.
The Thunderbirds pushed right back however as less than a minute later Branden Troock notched his first of the season as Luke Lockhart found him with the puck and he beat Prince George goalie Devon Fordyce. Less than a minute after that goal Seattle struck again as Connor Sanvido found Justin Hickman in the slot for Hickman’s first goal of the season.
Finally Seattle was cashing in on their chances and the period ended with a Seattle 2-1 lead.
Nine minutes into the second period Evan Wardley scored a goal that made you think this was going to be Seattle’s night. Skating just inside the red line he flipped a puck into the Cougars zone towards the net. It took a funny hop, deflected off Fordyce’s stick and in the net. It was Wardley’s first WHL goal and gave Seattle a 3-1 lead.
With the way the T-Birds had been playing it seemed that the two goal lead would be enough to wrap up the win.
Then came the infamous five to ten minutes. Seattle got sloppy and a bad pass by Wardley up the middle of the ice was picked off by Jordan Tkatch who walked in alone on Myles and scored his first of the season to make it 3-2. A minute later Seattle failed to clear the zone and Colin Jacobs got the puck and made a pretty pass across the ice to Alex Forsberg who beat Myles to tie the game.
Seattle took a penalty after that and on the ensuing power play Daulton Siwak was left standing alone in the slot and Jari Erricson got the puck to him for Siwak’s third goal of the season and Prince George had the lead. This game was similar to what we saw last week against Portland when Seattle seemed to get sloppy half way through the game.
“It was very similar,” said Konowalchuk. “We’ve got to realize what it takes to win games, shift after shift for the whole game.”
As the third period started Seattle had time to get the game tied. They came out strong and once again were controlling the puck and got the first six shots of the period. That momentum was killed however when Connor Honey took a tripping penalty in the Prince George end at 5:51. That seemed to kill the brief momentum Seattle had built up.
“It’s tough to score when you’re killing penalties,” Konowalchuk said about the third period. “I thought we were OK in the third up until then.”
In the end Seattle was the better team for fifty minutes of the game but got careless with the puck and Prince George took advantage. Seattle is a young team and loss of focus can be a symptom of that youth.
“It’s a little bit of youth and a little of stubbornness,” Konowalchuk says. “We have to figure out how to play sixty minutes, have to have the will to do it and until we do we are going to be inconsistent.”
The loss drops Seattle’s record to 1-2 on the season while Prince George improves to 3-0. Seattle will be right back at it Saturday night when the two teams square off again.
Game Notes –
Goalie Justin Myles got his first WHL start Friday night and for the most part played well. He stopped 25 of the 29 Cougar shots and can’t really be faulted on any of the goals. Was this a strong bid for him to get the back up job?
Seattle snapped a streak of eleven straight penalty kills when Siwak scored on the power play. They killed off three of the Prince George power plays and are now 1/14 killing penalties on the season.
This game was the first between brothers Jesse and Alex Forsberg. They had a few encounters starting with Jesse standing up his brother with a solid check in the second period. Alex got his revenge in the third when he stole the puck from Jesse but couldn’t score on the mini-break away.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide