THUNDERBIRDS

Thunderbirds blow two-goal lead in loss to Tri-City Americans

Feb 12, 2019, 10:44 PM | Updated: 11:36 pm
Seattle's Tyler Carpendale fights for position in front of Tri-City goalie Beck Warm (Frank Pray/T-...
Seattle's Tyler Carpendale fights for position in front of Tri-City goalie Beck Warm (Frank Pray/T-Birds)
(Frank Pray/T-Birds)

KENT – The Seattle Thunderbirds erupted for two goals early in Tuesday’s second period against the Tri-City Americans to build a 3-1 lead and had a golden chance to make it 4-1 just under six minutes into the period.

A crisp passing play ended with the puck on the stick of the red hot Matthew Wedman. He had already scored a goal in the period, his 28th, and took a hard shot. Tri-City goalie Beck Warm somehow was able to kick the puck out to safety.

That gave the visiting Americans momentum as they would go on to score three unanswered goals in the period to win 4-3.

“I was surprised the puck came to me there,” Wedman said of the play. “He came across and made a great save. It would have been a bit of a back-breaker, but we let them sneak back into the game with some big plays.”

Warm would end the night with 30 saves to pick up his 27th win on the year while Tri-City (28-20-2-1) was paced offensively by four different goal scores, including Krystof Hrabik, who also added an assist.

The Thunderbirds got a goal and assist from Wedman but couldn’t find enough offense to squeak past the Americans and failed to pad their lead in the race for the Western Conference’s last playoff space.

“We just didn’t play a good enough game to win,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “When we had the 3-1 lead we were playing OK, somewhat opportunistic and I thought  we were sloppy in some areas. We spent a lot of time in their end, but we knew going in the game they’re very opportunistic and if you give them big chances, they’re going to cash in.”

Seattle (21-27-5-1) watched it’s two-goal lead evaporate quickly.

Just over a minute and a half after the Warm save on Wedman, it would be Hrabik fighting off a check to score his 14th of the season from in close. Two minutes after that goal, at 10:02 of the second, former Thunderbird Aaron Hyman blasted a goal on a Tri-City power play to tie the game at 3-3.

With the score tied, the Americans broke in on Seattle goalie Roddy Ross a minute-and-a-half later on a two-on-one break that resulted in Sasha Mutala scoring his 13th.

That would be all the offense the Americans would need.

As good as Warm was, there were chances for the Thunderbirds. Shots either went wide or Seattle players couldn’t find loose pucks in the crease.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” O’Dette said. “I’ll have to see the video, but we probably could have gone to the net a little bit better. That, and they packed the house pretty good, they blocked a lot of shots. They played a pretty greasy road game and that’s what you need to do to play on the road.”

The Thunderbirds got 10 shots in the third period, down by a goal, but Warm had an answer for all of them.

With just over five minutes left in the game, the Thunderbirds went on the power play with a chance to tie the contest. The Thunderbirds had converted on a power play in the first period when Andrej Kukuca tied the game at 1-1 with his 19th of the year but the third-period chance would prove fruitless.

“That was a big opportunity for us,” O’Dette said. “We didn’t generate enough on it. Their intensity ramped up a little bit and we had a tough time handling the puck on the power play most of the night. Had a couple of looks but didn’t cash in.”

The Thunderbirds would go 1-for-5 on the power play Tuesday night.

A first-period power play would prove costly for Seattle as a turnover at the blue line led to a Parker AuCoin breakaway goal, his 31st goal of the year, to give the Americans an early 1-0 lead. Tri-City would end the night 1-for-3 with the man advantage.

Seattle built its second-period lead thanks to Wedman’s goal and Keltie Jeri-Leon’s eighth of the year.

After a busy week of games, the Thunderbirds will now have a couple of nights off before a grueling three-in-three weekend beginning with a Friday night tilt against the Red Deer Rebels at the accesso ShoWare Center.

“It will be nice to have a couple of days off,” Wedman said. “We have that three-in-three this weekend, so we’ve got to rest up.”

Notes

• Wedman extended his point streak to five games and has goals in three straight. He also has points in 12 of his last 13 contests.

• One area that Seattle did well at Tuesday was in the faceoff dot. They won 42 of the game’s 59 draws but couldn’t get enough shots at the net. “Its just guys are gripping the stick a little too tight,” Wedman said. “When chances aren’t going in, it feels like a lot of weight on your shoulders, but I think we have to keep pushing, keep shooting the puck and they’ll start going in.”

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