Silvertips edge Thunderbirds in overtime goalie duel
EVERETT – Seattle goalie Roddy Ross battled with Everett Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf to a scoreless tie in regulation Saturday night. The Thunderbirds have seen this before.
In an early March game at the Angel of the Winds Arena last season, Ross and the Thunderbirds would lose 1-0 on a last-second power-play goal after the two goalies had held each other’s team scoreless in regulation. Saturday, the game-winner for Everett came 2:21 in overtime as Gage Goncalves stole the puck and scored on Ross to send the Silvertips to a similar 1-0 win in front of a sold-out Pink the Rink crowd.
“We played really well,” Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette said. “I’m really proud of the guys with the response after last night’s game. We had everybody going. Everybody bought into the game plan. We had numerous chances to get that go-ahead goal, their goalie played well, obviously. That type of game is what we’re capable of.”
Everett (5-3-0-0) was led by Wolf who kicked out all 35 shots he saw to pick up his 13th career shutout while Ross made 24 saves, coming up one short of picking up his first.
The Thunderbirds played well Saturday, despite the result.
Coming off a tough loss to Kelowna Friday night, they outshot the Silvertips 35-25 and unofficially out-chanced them at even strength 24-15. For several stretches in the game, Seattle (2-4-1-0) controlled the flow of play and earned a territorial advantage.
The Thunderbirds just couldn’t get one past Wolf.
“Tons of positives to take out of this game,” O’Dette said. “When we play efficiently and play the right way, that’s how we can defend. It translates into a lot of O-Zone opportunities. When you defend better and have good habits it leads to more chances.”
Seattle had chances.
Henrik Rybinski had a short-handed breakaway that Wolf stopped. Matthew Wedman was buzzing all night, getting four shots on net. The power play failed on three looks but was dangerous in creating chances and momentum.
It was perhaps the strongest game that the Thunderbirds have played in the young season, including games that they won.
“We’ve got to duplicate that,” O’Dette said. “That game, that’s a blueprint for some of the things we’re capable of. If we cash in on some of those chances we’re a happy group.”
After giving up seven goals Friday night, Ross bounced back strong. The Thunderbirds leaned on him in the second period, when he stopped three point-blank Everett scoring chances.
“Good bounce back game for him,” O’Dette said. “The team played better in front of him which they needed to do. I’m happy with the group. We want to see improvement and progress and I thought there was a lot of that tonight.”
The Thunderbirds defense has had its struggles to start the year thanks to inexperience and injuries to two of their top four players.
Saturday night they were bolstered by the return of Tyrel Bauer, who had missed the previous three games with an injury. Bauer added a presence on the ice, often directing traffic on the rush. The Thunderbirds were organized in their own end and got sticks in the lanes to break up Silvertips chances.
“He’s an elite defender,” O’Dette said of the 17-year-old Bauer. “He’s got poise, he’s calm with the puck and makes the right plays. It felt a lot more calm with him back there.”
Playing in what may have been the biggest crowd they’ve seen, Seattle’s rookies handled the pressure. There were no nerves or big mistakes made as the game wore on.
There is still work to do for the Thunderbirds, but despite not winning on Saturday, there were positive signs in earning a point in the standings.
“They handled themselves great,” O’Dette said. “Everybody was going, everybody was chipping in and pulling the rope. We are disappointed with the result but there’s a lot to build off heading into the week.”
The Thunderbirds will have a week of practice before hosting the Eastern Conference Brandon Wheat Kings Friday at the accesso ShoWare Center.
• Seattle’s power play continues to look improved. Despite not scoring on Saturday, it was creating chances. Overall, O’Dette only had minor critiques for the way his power play, and offense in general played.
“I thought we could have more traffic directly in front of Wolf, particularly in the power play,” he said. “I thought the power play looked great, we had opportunity to shoot we just didn’t have enough directly in front.”
• Seattle did not allow a power-play goal against for the first time all season by shutting down two Silvertips chances.
• Coming into Saturday’s game, Seattle had struggled in the second period, being outscored 13-2. That trend was stopped and the Thunderbirds outshot Everett 12-8 in the second on Saturday.