Game 71: Thunderbirds are pushed to the brink of elimination by the Silvertips

Mar 18, 2012, 1:42 AM

By Mike Caccioppoli

(22-40-2-8) Everett Silvertips 6, (25-44-1-1) Seattle Thunderbirds 4

I thought we were coming along pretty good. I was happy with the third period. They weren’t in our zone that much until that game winner. They got the bounces and made the play on the game winner.

We can win tomorrow, it’s one of the teams we have to beat. They (Everett) beat them and we are going to have to beat them. As I’ve said all along we have to beat a good team to get where we want…Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk

 

KENT- In the biggest game of the season thus far and with a sold out barn the Thunderbirds blow four leads including a 4-3 third period lead and fall to the Silvertips 6-4. With a win the Birds could have clinched a playoff spot instead they will need to defeat the Winterhawks in Portland on Sunday to force a one game tie-breaker vs. Everett on Tuesday at the ShoWare Center. If they do not win their season will be over.

 

Nice puck movement down low allowed Connor Honey (9) to knock one in off the Tips’ Dominik Bitter and put the Birds up 1-0 at 18:13. Brad Deagle and Branden Troock got the assists.

That was the only goal of the period and Everett outshot Seattle 9-6.

Seattle came out sloppy to start the second period and Everett took advantage by scoring the tying goal. Manraj Hayer (4) scored at 2:24.

Branden Troock (14) put the Birds back in front 2-1 at 7:16. Troock took his time and shot the puck over the shoulder of Kent Simpson. Connor Honey and Braeden Laroque got the assists.

Everett tied it on a scramble in front of the net. Manraj Hayer tallied his 5th goal of the season.

Luke Lockhart broke in shorthanded and was pulled down and awarded a penalty shot. He scored to put the Birds up 3-2. It was his 16th goal of the season.

Everett remained on the power play and scored on a tip in with one second left on the advantage to tie the game 3-3. Josh Birkholz (29)scored the goal.

Connor Honey (10) working hard in front of the net on the power play knocked the puck past Simpson and the Birds regained the lead 4-3. Luke Lockhart and Shea Theodore got the assists.

After 40 minutes Seattle led 4-3 and were being outshot 27-19.

Everett tied the game 4-4 at 8:31 of the third period. Zac McPhee scored his 5th goal of the season.

The Tips took their first lead of the game at 15:11 Cody Fowlie scored his 14th goal of the season.

Pickard was pulled in favor of the extra attacker with 1:30 left.

Everett scored into the empty net to seal the game 6-4. Ryan Harrison scored his 20th goal of the season.

 

Post game Q & A with Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk:

Jim Riley (Seattle Times): How do you put this loss behind you going into Portland tomorrow?

SK: We have to. We have to go there and compete and play hard no matter what the situation is. We have to put this game behind us.

MC: Seems like you guys weren’t as strong in the D zone tonight as you had been lately.

SK: A little bit, but I thought their team was the same way. Usually our games against Everett are tight checking games, tonight both teams had their chances. It was a little bit different with the high emotions and the energy.

MC: Do you think there is anything to the idea that since it was a must win game for them that might have factored in?

SK: No, not at all.

JR: Did the team let up at all after getting that first goal?

SK: I thought we were coming along pretty good. I was happy with the third period. They weren’t in our zone that much until that game winner. They got the bounces and made the play on the game winner.

MC: Well you had the lead four times, that has to sting.

SK: For sure yes. They (Everett) didn’t stop trying.

JR: Do you feel you can go into Portland and get a win?

SK: We can win tomorrow, it’s one of the teams we have to beat. They (Everett) beat them and we are going to have to beat them. As I’ve said all along we have to beat a good team to get where we want.

MC: What do you have to do to beat them?

SK: We have to stop their rush. They score too much off the rush.

 

Plus side:

Young guys again. Once again the young guys try to carry the team. Honey almost did it all by himself. Also a great game for Troock.

Getting the go ahead goal. The Birds were able to take the lead four times but…

 

Minus side:

Coughing up the lead. The Birds blew the lead four times. The worst being a 4-3 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the game.

Playing not to lose. No killer instinct. It looked like the team was playing not to lose instead of going for the kill. Four chances at that all important two goal lead and they couldn’t do it.

Time and space. Birds weren’t physical enough in getting Everett off the puck and slowing down the rush. Too much time and space given to their forwards to create scoring chances.

D zone blunders. Not tight enough in the D zone tonight. Too many mistakes leading to scoring chances and goals.

Missed opportunity. With a full crowd and tons of playoff atmosphere the Birds blow a chance to clinch a playoff spot. Now they must do something they haven’t done all season..win in Portland. Will Portland sit some guys? Probably, if they are smart, but it really seems like more of a mental thing with the Birds. You wear that Portland jersey and you are no longer just a teenage hockey player, you are special. If the Birds don’t shake that mentality their season is over.

 

Game Notes:

I want to talk about home ice advantage for a minute. The ShoWare Center does not allow banners and flag waiving for T-Bird fans yet there was an Everett fan with a huge flag waiving it in front of the media section all night long. Security said they “snuck it in.” There was nothing covert about the flag waiving all night and yet not one security person asked the guy to stop. When people wonder why the Birds have no real home ice advantage you can look to several areas but this is one that can be controlled easily. You tell your own fans that they can’t support the team that way yet you let an opposing fan do it in the biggest game of the season. No excuse for that.

-F Jacob Doty did not play. D Jared Hauf did not play. F Tyler Alos continues to be out with an upper body injury.

-Seattle drops to 14-21-0-1 at home. They finish 5-4-1 vs. Everett (3-2 home, 2-2-1 road).

Calvin Pickard falls to 25-36-1-1. Kent Simpson improves to 20-31-2-5.

 

Thunderbirds second half record: 12-27-1.

 

PLAYOFF CHASE:

CLINCHED 7. Victoria..(24 wins..55 points..no games left)

IN 8. Everett..(22 wins…54 points..no games left)

OUT 9. Seattle..(25 wins..52 points.. 1 game left)

ELIMINATED 10. Prince George..(24 wins..50 points..no games left)

 

710Sports.com three stars:

First star: Manraj Hayer (two goal, assist, +3 rating)

Second star : Jari Erricson (three assists, +3 rating)

Third star: Connor Honey (two goals, assist)

 

The Thunderbirds play Sunday at 5 pm in Portland against the Winterhawks. The action can be heard live at 710Sports.com.

 

Game summary is on the WHL website.

twitter @mike710espn

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Game 71: Thunderbirds are pushed to the brink of elimination by the Silvertips