Everett clamps down on T-Birds in 4-1 win
KENT – The month of December is turning into an up and down one for the Thunderbirds.
A night after one of their most complete efforts of the season, the T-Birds had a down performance at the ShoWare Center.
The always tough, defensive Everett Silvertips put the clamps on the T-Birds to earn their second victory of the season between the two I-5 rivals 4-1. Everett’s Patrick Bajkov scored twice and goalie Carter Hart made 26 saves to lead the Silvertips’ charges.
The loss is second home loss for Seattle (18-10-2-0) of the season and their third loss over their last five contests.
Its rare that Seattle does not dictate the pace of play, but Saturday they were on their heels from the start of the game.
“During parts of that game and in the first period we’ve got to be ready to go,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “You can’t get your sticks lifted and have them take pucks, that’s just hockey 101, basic hockey. Can’t get your sticks lifted and let them go the other way.”
The Silvertips were able to hem Seattle in their own end and took an early shot lead at 9-2. The T-Birds weren’t able to generate any sustained pressure however and only were able to score when a rebound came to Turner Ottenbreit at the point.
His shot from there beat Hart for the only time of the evening to give the T-Birds a 1-0 lead despite being out played.
Seattle struggled to manage the puck, turning it over in the neutral zone on a regular basis. That made it hard for them to sustain pressure and gave Everett (17-10-0-2) chances the other way.
“They just out worked us tonight,” captain Jerret Smith. “That’s really what it just comes down to. We didn’t have a good start, we didn’t have jump off the start.”
Bajkov answered the Ottenbreit goal late in the second period with a wrist shot that Logan Flodell was unable to get to. Everett continued to clamp down on the T-Birds and a couple of unfortunate bounces helped them build their lead.
44 seconds into the third period Seattle’s Scott Eansor lost and edge and knocked into one of his teammates. That allowed the Silvertips to leave their zone with speed and quickly turned into a three-on-one break. Remi Laurencelle cashed in with his 15th goal of the year in what would end up being the game winning goal.
“The whole mindset of our team wasn’t good enough,” Konowalchuk said. “If your mind set’s all right and you’re ready to play the full 60 minutes you can overcome an unfortunate bounce.”
Everett extended their lead on the power play mid way through the third period when Cole MacDonald banged home a goal from the door step. Just prior to the goal, Ethan Bear blocked a shot with his skate and was in visible pain.
Bear did not take another shift in the third period had to be carried to the locker room. Konowalchuk had no update on his status after the game.
Bajkov put the final nail in Seattle’s coffin when he picked up turnover at the blue line and walked in alone for his second of the night.
The T-Birds conducted a long player’s meeting after the game as there was visible frustration with their effort. Seattle is 2-2 in the month of December and playing consistent is going to be key moving forward.
“As far as our locker room and our leadership its getting frustrating,” Konowalchuk said. “To watch them come out and play like they did against Spokane and then come out and play like a complete opposite team. Give (Everett) credit, they played hard, were desperate and wanted to win, but we’ve got to be better.”
Tempo is always key in hockey and the T-Birds allowed Everett to dictate the tempo from the opening face off and never relented it.
“Plain and simple, we’ve got to work harder out there,” Smith said. “I don’t think we want it enough right now, we’ve got block more shots and work harder out there and win our battles.”
The T-Birds will now have to whether the storm of missing their top three centers for a while. They will have to find a way to play consistently and generate some secondary scoring.
They will be back in action Tuesday when they host the Prince George Cougars.
• Bear did pick up a point before he got hurt and if he is out long term it will be a blow to the T-Birds moving forward. He has been a key part to the T-Birds power play and has provided scoring from the blue line.
• With Saturday’s results the top of the U.S. Division got tighter. Everett jumped over Spokane for second place and trail the T-Birds by two points.
• With Mathew Barzal, Eansor and Alexander True out for the World Juniors the team will be without its top three centers. Konowalchuk said that Matthew Wedman will get more playing time and that Donovan Neuls and Sahvan Khaira will see some time in the middle.
• Everett’s goaltender Carter Hart has only allowed one goal to the T-Birds this season. He is having an outstanding season with a league best goals-against-average of 1.90.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.