Game 68: Thunderbirds lose to Cougars as playoff hopes dim

Mar 12, 2011, 9:43 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2011, 11:23 am

(31-34-2-2) Prince George Cougars 5, (26-33-4-5) Seattle Thunderbirds 1

Connolly with a goal and assist…PG scores four goals in third period

KENT– The Thunderbirds miss out on a chance to move within one point of a playoff spot with a lackluster effort against the Cougars. Instead they now find themselves four points behind Everett and two points behind Kamloops with only four games remaining.

The Cougars went on the power play at 7:05 of the first period when Colin Jacobs was called for Holding. They converted to go up 1-0. Brett Connolly notched his 42nd goal of the season at 7:18.

Chance Lund went to the penalty box at 14:55 for Slashing. They didn’t convert and had one shot on net.

The Birds were down 1-0 after 20 minutes and were being out shot 14-4 in an inspired period of play. “I wish we could have come out with more energy, said Rob Sumner . “We could have gotten on the right track early but it didn’t happen.”

The Birds got their first power play chance at 3:49 of the second period. Cody Carlson was called for Hooking. They didn’t convert and had no shots.

They went back on the power play at 8:24. Carlson went back to the box for Tripping. They didn’t convert and had one shot.

The Birds tied the game 1-1 at 10:29 when Tyler Alos shot one past Ty Rimmer (17-21-0-2) for his fifth goal of the season. Assists went to Brendan Rouse and Dave Sutter.

Seattle got another power play chance at 11:27. Taylor Makin was called for Holding. They didn’t convert and had one shot.

The Birds went on the power play for the fourth time in the period when Charles Inglis was called for Hooking at 15:22. They didn’t convert and had one shot.

Mitch Elliot was called for Tripping at 17:50. The Cougars didn’t convert on the power play and had two shots.

After two period the game was tied 1-1. Shots in the period were 10-7 in favor of the Birds. The Cougars led 21-14 overall.

The Birds had four power play opportunities in the period but went 0 for 4. “We were too perimeter on the power play,” said Sumner. “We didn’t force the issue even if it meant just simplifying and laying pucks into the net.”

The Cougars went up 2-1 at the 11:02 mark of the third period. Spencer Asuchak (17) put one past Calvin Pickard (26-31-3-5).

At 13:11 the Cougars went up 3-1. Taylor Makin scored his sixth goal of the season.

Taylor Stefishen (23) made it 4-1 at 14:58.

Sumner took his timeout.

Pickard was pulled in favor of the extra attacker with 3:30 remaining.

Prince George went up 5-1 when Brock Hirsche scored his eighth goal of the season into the empty net at 17:45.

Pickard was sent back into the game.

Seattle lost 5-1.

Shots in the third period were 14-9 in favor of Prince George. They out shot the Birds 35-23 overall.

In what was biggest of the “must win” games the Birds have played recently, they simply didn’t show up for this one. They lost most of the puck battles and were sloppy with their passes and in the neutral zone. There was very little energy from the start and you could sense this would not be one of their better games. Even so they were given a bit of life by Alos’ goal that tied it in the second period. They also earned four power play chances in that period but couldn’t convert on any.

Those missed opportunities would come back to haunt them in the third period as the Birds allowed four goals in just over 6:30. You could feel the air being sucked out of the building with each goal. In fact after PG went up 2-1 with just about nine minutes left it felt as though the team lost any energy they might have had up until that point.

“We weren’t very good in the first period at all,” said Sumner. “We earned some power plays in the second period. After they got the go ahead goal in the third period things began to snowball from there.” He went on to talk about the lackluster play. “We were sloppy in the neutral zone. Even when we did execute up ice we made it playable for their goalie and he started a lot of their breakouts. Puck placement wasn’t great for us tonight. We didn’t establish our forecheck as well as we wanted to.”

Sumner was asked what changed so drastically in 24 hours to make a team playing well look so bad in a big game. “We didn’t have a lot of jump. They played a good game but we have to play through that. We didn’t play well tonight and it was really disappointing. Those were big points and we wanted them but we didn’t deserve it tonight.”

One has to wonder if all of these high pressure games have taken a toll on the team both mentally and physically. Can the Birds play at such a high level game in, game out? “Well we’re desperate and we need to find that level,” said Sumner. “We have to regroup and get ready to go on Wednesday in Kelowna.”

That game will start at 7 pm and it can be heard live at MyNorthwest.com.

Game Notes:

-D Mitch Spooner was a healthy scratch. D Erik Fleming remains out with a shoulder injury.

The Thunderbirds home record drops to 13-17-1-3.

– Seattle finishes the season with a 2-2 mark against Prince George. They won both in PG and lost both at home.

– Seattle was 0 for 4 on the power play. PG was 1 for 3.

Game Summary: (courtesy of the WHL website)

1st Period-1, Prince George, Connolly 42 (Marincin, Dobrowolski), 7:18 (PP). Penalties-Jacobs Sea (holding), 7:05; Lund Sea (slashing), 14:55.

2nd Period-2, Seattle, Alos 5 (Rouse, Sutter), 10:29. Penalties-Carlson P.g (hooking), 3:49; Carlson P.g (tripping), 8:24; Makin P.g (holding), 11:27; Inglis P.g (hooking), 15:22; Elliot Sea (tripping), 17:50.

3rd Period-3, Prince George, Asuchak 17 (Acolatse, Hirsche), 11:02. 4, Prince George, Makin 6 (Inglis, Pilling), 13:11. 5, Prince George, Stefishen 23 (Connolly), 14:58. 6, Prince George, Hirsche 8 17:45 (EN). Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Prince George 14-7-14-35. Seattle 4-10-9-23.

Power Play Opportunities-Prince George 1 / 3; Seattle 0 / 4.

Goalies-Prince George, Rimmer 17-21-0-2 (23 shots-22 saves). Seattle, Pickard 26-31-3-5 (34 shots-30 saves).

A-4,025

Referees-Pat Smith (12), Jason Nissen (91).

Linesmen-Zach Brooks (26), Chris Sweeting (137).

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