Spokane Chiefs drub T-Birds 7-1
The Thunderbirds ran into a buzz saw in Spokane Friday night in their first match up of the season with the Chiefs.
Spokane scored four times in the first period on their way to a 7-1 rout of the T-Birds. Spokane’s Adam Helewka picked his first career hat trick to pace the Chiefs as the Thunderbirds got on their heels and were never able to recover.
“We weren’t ready to play,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said afterwards. “Defensively in the D-zone we had some big break downs and didn’t have enough guys ready to play to start the game… We didn’t get off the bus ready to play. That team was blocking shots when it was 7-1 and we weren’t blocking shots when the game was on the line.”
The tone was set early Friday night on a goal that probably should not have been allowed.
Ethan Bear had the puck behind his own net and he started up ice. Spokane’s Curtis Miske got his stick into the Seattle defenseman and brought him down. With no whistle on the play, Miske picked up the loose puck, turned and fired a shot past a surprised Logan Flodell.
Konowalchuk was upset with the non-call and called the referee over to the Seattle bench. He says he was told by the official that they thought Miske had checked Bear’s stick and that it wasn’t a trip.
The T-Birds never seemed to quite recover from that goal and the flood gates would open late in the first.
“I thought we were kind of moving there after that but we didn’t have our game enough,” Konowalchuk said. “We weren’t tough enough mentally, we didn’t have everyone playing that’s just the way it is.”
Tyson Helgesen extended the lead with just under five minutes to go in the period when he took a nice feed from Helewka to score from the circle. Helewka would then score twice in 21 seconds to give the Chiefs a commanding four-goal lead and stun the T-Birds.
Seattle was out shot 14-4 in the first period and the four goals allowed meant the end of the night for Flodell who was replaced by Taz Burman.
The second period was more even but Seattle would get down by five goals when Nik Anderson picked up a loose puck in the Seattle zone, turned and beat a screened Burman. The T-Birds got on the board in the second with a Ryan Gropp power-play goal but then Spokane’s Jaret Anderson-Dolan would put any idea of a comeback to bed when he scored with eight seconds left in the period.
The third period was no better for the T-Birds as Helewka completed the hat trick 13 seconds into the final period and Spokane was in coast mode. After the game, Konowalchuk said he gathered the team to discuss the poor play.
“We had a little talk and the positive is that it’s only a two-point game,” he said. “As a group we have to decide how bad we want to be ready to start games. Not try to just get through.”
With the loss, the T-Birds have now lost two straight but will get a chance to right the ship quickly when they host Tri City at the ShoWare Center Saturday night.
“I’m glad we play tomorrow,” Konowalchuk said. “Our guys would like to get going and get back at it.”
• The seven goals allowed is a season high for the T-Birds and in their last two road games – both losses – they have allowed 12 goals.
• Flodell got the start and was replaced after allowing four goals on 12 shots. Burman allowed three goals on 17 shots in relief.
• Spokane had five players end the night with a plus-5 defensive rating while Seattle had two players saddled with a frustrating minus-5.
• Saturday’s game against the Tri City Americans is Seattle Metropolitans night at the ShoWare Center. The T-Birds will be wearing throw back Metropolitans sweaters to honor the first U.S. team to win the Stanley Cup. There will be memorabilia on hand as well as the Stanley Cup itself, which fans can have their picture taken with.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.