T-Birds drop pre-season opener 4-3 in OT to Portland Winterhawks
By Andrew Eide (photo by Chris Mast)
The Seattle Thunderbirds started their 2012-2013 journey facing the same opponent they ended last season against, the Portland Winterhawks. The game was played in Everett as part of the Holiday Inn Pre-Season Classic. Neither team iced their full line up and in the end played an entertaining game that Portland won 4-3 in overtime.
Portland gave the Thunderbirds fits last year and two minutes into the game it looked like Friday’s game might bring more of the same. Portland’s Taylor Peterson got the scoring going when he walked around Seattle defender Kevin Wolf and beat goalie Brandon Glover from point blank range. Just like that it was 1-0 and it seemed that Portland would dominate Seattle again.
Seattle fought back however and for most of the first period had the better of the play and the better chances. Brendan Troock continued his strong pre-season as he split the Portland defense and tried a move on goalie Brendan Burke only to have the puck bounce off his stick. Seattle was getting chances but just could not finish.
Portland struck again with five minutes left in the first when Glover hesitated playing a puck into the corner which allowed Portland to get it and throw it in front of the net where a mad scramble resulted in Chase De Leo banging it home for a 2-0 Portland lead.
The T-Birds went to the power play late in the first and cashed in. Justin Hickman grabbed a loose puck in front of the net and whipped it past Burke with just over a minute left in the first. The goal gave the T-Birds some spark and they carried that momentum into the second period.
Seattle got a power play early in the second and former Winterhawks player Seth Swenson made his former team pay as he broke into the zone and fired a deadly wrister over a helpless Burke to tie the game at two.
After the game was tied Seattle began a march to the penalty box. They took four minor penalties which killed the momentum they gained from Swenson’s goal and were short-handed for a good portion of the period. Their penalty killing team did a great job keeping Portland from cashing in and Glover stood tall during the Portland power plays.
“We started getting a little bit careless with the puck and not stopping and starting enough and they created a little momentum and when they create momentum they caused the penalties, we were just out of position,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said about the penalties.
Seattle took one penalty too many though and Portland was able to score a power play goal when Josh Hanson knocked a puck in past goalie Danny Mumaugh. At first glance it appeared that Hanson punched the puck in with his fists and the goal should not have counted. The official skated to the Seattle bench to explain that while the player did punch the puck with his hand it then hit a Seattle stick before going in the net.
Danny Mumaugh gave up the fluke goal but he stood strong in the third period. He made tough save after tough save including a couple point blank ones during a late Portland power play. Seattle was able to kill off the penalty and shortly after that Shea Theodore found Brendan Trook skating up ice with a head of steam and he was able to beat Portland goalie Cam Lanigan to tie the game with five minutes left and sent the game into overtime.
“I blew the zone and Theo got me on a break away pass,” Troock said of the play. “I wanted to go forehand-backhand, it was nice to get that goal”.
Troock has had a really strong camp so far and appears poised to have a big year.
“I feel good, I feel strong, it’s nice coming into the season with no injuries, I had a really good summer of training and I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in going into a season and am ready to get the season going,” Troock said.
In the overtime period the teams traded a few shots until Seattle coughed up a loose puck at center ice that Alex Schoenborn scooped up and started a two on one for Portland. Schoenborn held onto the puck and fired a shot that Mumaugh managed to get a piece of but still could not keep it from getting into the net.
Despite this being only a pre-season game there was plenty of positives for Seattle to take away. They twice battled back from deficits to tie the game, they held Portland to one for six on the power play and cashed in on two of their own.
“I thought everybody gave a pretty good effort, we still need to pay attention to some small details, get rid of a little of the summer hockey or scrimmage mentality,” Konowalchuk said of the team’s effort. “I thought guys worked hard, skated well, our team speed was pretty good and we kept up with one of the faster teams in the league”
The Thunderbirds play again Sunday, in Everett, as they face off with the Spokane Chiefs at 1 p.m.
The Thunderbirds gave a lot of young players a chance to play Friday which meant there were notable scratches. They were Mitch Elliot, Tyler Alos, Connor Honey, Riley Sheen, Luke Lockhart and Daniel Cotton.
The young defense is an on-going story, Konowalchuk liked what he saw on Friday saying, “I thought they held up really well, Smitty’s game, Green made some nice plays offensively and showed he could move the puck well…I’m happy with our D.”
Seattle continues to search for their back up goalie. Mumaugh played well on Friday stopping 14 of the 16 shots he saw – Cotton and Justin Myles will get their turn on Sunday.
Portland did not suit up their highly rated defenseman Seth Jones meaning his WHL debut will have to wait. Jones was drafted by Everett and they were unable to sign him and you have to wonder if he will make his debut in Everett, against Everett, on Sunday. Salt in the wound?
Follow Andrew on twitter @andyeide