Game 62: Thunderbirds lose heartbreaker to Portland

Feb 26, 2011, 9:00 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2011, 11:23 am

(42-17-0-3) Portland Winterhawks 4, (22-31-4-5) Seattle Thunderbirds 3

Niederreiter with two goals…Pickard makes 52 saves in the loss

KENT– Just 34 seconds away from at least one hard fought point, the Thunderbirds give up the go ahead goal and drop a real stinger to the Winterhawks, 4-3.

The Winterhawks got the games first power play chance at the 8:58 mark of the first period. Tyler Alos was called for Hooking. They didn’t convert and had two shots on net.

The Birds went on the power play at 11:28 when Taylor Aronson was called for Hooking. They didn’t convert.

Both teams had their scoring opportunities in the period but neither was able to put one in the net. Some solid goaltending on both ends.

Shots in the period were 19-11 in favor of Portland.

The Birds began the second period on the power play because Brad Ross was called for Roughing on a scrum at the end of the first period. They didn’t convert and had two shots.

Portland went up 1-0 when Sven Bartschi slapped in his 29th goal of the season at 2:08.

The Birds came right back to tie it at 2:45. Brendan Rouse (10) continued his hot streak as he knocked one past Keith Hamilton (11-4-0-2). It was a gritty goal brought on by hard work in front of the net. The assists went to Travis Toomey and Erik Bonsor.

Seattle went up 2-1 lead at 9:37 when Chance Lund slapped in his fifth goal of the season. Mitch Elliot got the assist.

The Winterhawks tied it 2-2 at 11:41. Nino Niederreiter (28) scored when the Birds couldn’t clear the puck out of the zone, giving Portland several scoring chances.

Portland went on the power play with 57 seconds left in the period. Toomey was sent to the box for Tripping.

After 40 minutes the game was tied 2-2. Shots in the second period were 14-13 in favor of the Birds. Portland led 32-25 overall.

Portland didn’t convert on their remaining power play time to start the third period.

Ryan Johansen scored his 34th goal of the season to put Portland up 3-2 at 2:56.

Portland went on the power play at 5:51 when Brenden Dillon was called for Tripping. They didn’t convert.

There was an extremely long delay to decide whether the Hawks scored at the end of the power play even though the puck never got close to crossing the line. It was finally deemed to not be a goal.

The Birds tied the game 3-3 when Calvin Pickard (22-29-3-5) sent a long, beautiful outlet pass to Toomey (20) who shot one past Hamilton. Time of the goal was 12:48 and Pickard got the lone assist.

Portland went on the power play at 13:04. Lund was called for Roughing. They didn’t convert and had one shot.

The Hawks went back to the power play at 16:42 when Dillon was called for Goaltender Interference. “That’s a judgment call, said Rob Sumner . “I’m not sure where else he (Dillon) was supposed to go. It’s just tough.” They didn’t convert.

With 34 seconds left the Hawks went up 4-3 as Niederreiter knocked in his second goal of the night and 29th of the season. The goal was caused by a turnover in the offensive zone by the Birds.

The Birds would pull Pickard for the extra attacker but could not get anything towards the net and go on to lose 4-3.

Shots in the third period were 24-6 in favor of Portland. They also out shot the Birds 56-31 overall.

Many people including myself will call this game a heartbreaker. I think that is really an understatement. To lose out on at least a point, if not two, against the best team in the league, with 34 seconds left, when you are down to your last gasps as far as making the playoffs are concerned is beyond words. I don’t know how Sumner gets his troops back mentally after a loss like this, at this point in the season.

The Birds fought hard even though they were out played through several stretches of the game. They played through bad calls by refs Pat Smith and Brett Montsion, who made an unforgivable call against Lund when he hit Ty Rattie cleanly after Rattie put his head down, a no no in hockey. The fact that Portland bench boss Mike Johnston wanted five minutes rings just a bit disingenuous. I’m sure he knows the rules. The goaltender interference call with three minutes left in the game was also awful as Dillon cut in to take a shot and nearly flew in the air to avoid contact. This after they did not call a fairly obvious interference call on Pickard earlier in the game along with a non call on a blatant USC when a Portland player took a shot about two seconds after a whistle.

You will say that the Hawks didn’t score on any of those power play chances but all the penalty killing wears a team down and it took its toll on the Birds in the third period.

That being said a turnover in the offensive zone that led to the Hawks winning goal is a mental mistake that just can’t happen at that point in the game. You need to know where the game stands and what you need to accomplish and at that point it wasn’t making a fancy pass to score, it was getting it deep in the zone to get to overtime and get at least a point. You give a team like the Hawks that kind of chance and they will hurt you. They did. You can accept the physical mistakes but not the mental ones.

The loss reminds me of the first game of the season in Everett when the Birds did almost the exact same thing at the exact same time to blow the game. This one was so much more painful.

Sumner was asked just how painful the loss was. “Very tough. We just got through two penalty kills in the last seven minutes, one with three minutes left and we give up an even strength goal with 34 seconds left.”

The Birds were out shot 24-6 in the third period but Sumner said that those numbers are a bit misleading. “We killed so many penalties. I thought we tried to play aggressive. They are very good. I liked our desperation, sure we could have found a way to get more shots but I thought we had some fight to us.”

When asked how he can get his team to forget a loss like this so quickly, Sumner reiterated how tough it really was. “Right now it really stings. We battled like crazy, we were in a position to get a point and maybe two and we come away with nothing.” He also knows there is no crying over spilled milk. “It’s disappointing, it stings, whatever you want to call it. If I could take it back, and change the last 34 seconds I would do that, we can’t so we go out and try to win the next game.”

That will be Sunday night against Everett at the ShoWare Center. Game time is 5 pm. The action can be heard live at

Game Notes:

– Notables..On the plus side (Button..+ 3).On the minus side (Dillon.. -3, Jacobs..-3).

– D Erik Fleming and D Travis Bobbee are both out with shoulder injuries.

– The Thunderbirds home record drops to 9-16-1-3.

– Seattle has now lost five straight against Portland.

– Seattle was 0 for 2 on the power play. Portland was 0 for 5.

Game Summary: (courtesy of the WHL website)

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Alos Sea (hooking), 8:58; Aronson Por (hooking), 11:28; Niederreiter Por (roughing), 20:00; Ross Por (roughing), 20:00; Alos Sea (roughing), 20:00.

2nd Period-1, Portland, Bartschi 29 (Rattie), 2:08. 2, Seattle, Rouse 10 (Toomey, Bonsor), 2:45. 3, Seattle, Lund 5 (Elliot), 9:37. 4, Portland, Niederreiter 28 11:41. Penalties-Toomey Sea (tripping), 19:02.

3rd Period-5, Portland, Johansen 34 (Pouliot, Jordan), 2:56. 6, Seattle, Toomey 20 (Pickard), 12:48. 7, Portland, Niederreiter 29 (Bartschi), 19:26. Penalties-Dillon Sea (tripping), 5:51; Lund Sea (roughing), 13:04; Dillon Sea (inter. on goaltender), 16:42.

Shots on Goal-Portland 19-13-24-56. Seattle 11-14-6-31.

Power Play Opportunities-Portland 0 / 5; Seattle 0 / 2.

Goalies-Portland, Hamilton 11-4-0-2 (31 shots-28 saves). Seattle, Pickard 22-29-3-5 (56 shots-52 saves).


Referees-Pat Smith (12), Brett Montsion.

Linesmen-Justin Hull (49), Bevan Mills (98).


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