Thunderbirds solve Silvertips for first time this season with four straight goals.
KENT – The Everett Silvertips had the Thunderbirds on their heels in the first ten minutes of Saturday’s clash of rivals at the accesso ShoWare Center.
They came out of the gates strong and took the first nine shots of the game. It wasn’t looking good for the Thunderbirds but somehow, they survived it without allowing a goal.
“Roddy,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette answered when asked how.
He was referring to Seattle goalie Roddy Ross who stopped all nine shots to keep the Thunderbirds from falling behind early.
“Roddy was good early,” O’Dette added. “He made some big saves early and allowed us to get our bearings straight and get our legs into it. They came out hot and gave a good push right of the bat and Roddy was there to hold the fort down.”
Seattle would not only absorb the early charge but would go on to a 4-1 win against their rivals, picking up a win against Everett for the first time this season. The Silvertips were playing their third game in as many nights and the Thunderbirds took advantage to wear them out as the game wore on.
Ross would end up with a career best 46 saves to backstop the Thunderbirds to his 10th win that put them five points up on Kamloops for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. His rebound control was strong as he gobbled up shots, giving Everett very few second chance opportunities.
“(Goalie Coach Ian Gordon) we’ve been working a lot,” Ross said of his game. “It’s been going great and he’s been helping me a lot.”
Seattle (23-27-5-1) was led offensively by another goal from Matthew Wedman – who also added two assists – as well as two points from Andrej Kukuca.
After Everett (39-14-1-2) opened the game with the first nine shots, Seattle slowly started to turn the tide. The Thunderbirds strung together a series of strong shifts but would fall behind nonetheless when Bryce Kindopp poked his 33rd of the year past Ross at 15:48.
It looked like a familiar script for Seattle in the season series with Everett.
In the previous six games, Seattle would play a strong for stretches, only to give up a goal late. It would be different Saturday however, as the Thunderbirds would tie the game two minutes later with a power-play goal of their own, off the stick of Kukuca. It was Kukuca’s 21st of the year and extended his goal streak to four straight games.
Saturday was the second night back for captain Nolan Volcan and while he didn’t pick up a point, he was a physical force all night long. Hitting everything wearing green, Volcan helped set a tone for the game.
“When we played Prince Albert a few months ago that’s kind of what we focused on,” Volcan said. “Everett’s kind of in the same weight class as them so to beat them you’ve got to bang. I think everyone is on the same page with that and right now I’m trying to help the team anyway I can.”
His biggest hit of the night came when he caught former Thunderbird Zack Andrusiak along the boards.
“No personal things out there,” Volcan said of the hit. “Just trying to bang and hit everybody and play physical.”
The Thunderbirds would take the lead in the second period when Wedman won a faceoff back to Jarret Tyszka who fired a shot past a screened Dustin Wolf. Wedman would extend the lead in the third period when he scored on a power play for his team-leading 31st goal.
It was his fifth straight game with a goal.
“They seem to be coming right now,” Wedman said.
His goal was Seattle’s second on the power play as the Thunderbirds ended the night 2-for-4 and have scored with the man advantage in seven of their last eight games.
“Just getting our feet under us, making good, clean passes,” Wedman said of the power play. “We’re settling things down and its helping.”
Payton Mount would score on the empty net late in the third to seal the win for the Thunderbirds who finally got the Everett monkey off their backs.
“Its definitely rewarding,” Volcan said. “I think that’s our first win against them so big confidence boost for our guys. It’s one of those things that if we go out there and play a heavy game, that’s our game. If we do that consistently, nine times out of ten we’ll get a win.”
The weekend for the Thunderbirds looked daunting heading into it with three games in three nights against three teams with better records than they had. After beating Red Deer Friday night, Seattle now has four points out of the first two games.
They will head to Portland Sunday to finish up the weekend against the Winterhawks.
“We’re looking to get some more,” O’Dette said. “We’re confident and it will be a tough test tomorrow but we’ll empty the tank and go for it.”
• Kindopp scored the first-period power play but the Thunderbirds penalty kill erased the other four attempts the Silvertips had. “Some great penalty kills there,” O’Dette said. “I think the last couple they really didn’t have many chances even. The power play did a good job keeping it simple and taking what’s given. You need special teams to win and they are there for us tonight.”
• The game got chippy with 13 seconds left and Wolf pulled. The officials kicked all 11 skaters out of the game at the same time, leaving Ross as the only player on the ice. In total, 186 minutes in penalties were assessed in the final 13 seconds of the game.
• Noah Philp had two assists Saturday to extend his point streak to six games.
• With the loss, the Silvertips fell behind the Vancouver Giants in the Western Conference standings. Both clubs have 81 points but Vancouver has played one fewer game for the temporary lead.