Thunderbirds blow lead, lose in overtime to Wheat Kings
KENT – Friday night was another tough lesson learned for the young Seattle Thunderbirds as they hosted the Brandon Wheat Kings at the accesso ShoWare Center.
Seattle had a 2-0 lead midway through the third period but took a couple of costly penalties. The Wheat Kings cashed in on both to tie the game and would win it with less than a minute left in overtime when Cole Reinhardt scored his second of the game to send Brandon to a 3-2 win.
The loss spoiled a two-goal effort from Matthew Wedman and 38 saves from goalie Roddy Ross.
“We’ve just got to bear down when it comes down to it,” Wedman said of the third period. “We’ve got to get those kills.”
While Brandon (4-6-0-0) scored on two of its six power-play chances, Seattle (2-4-2-0) failed on it’s six. That ended up being the difference in the game.
“We’re learning and the lessons tonight were when you get your opportunity on the power play you have to get it done,” Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette said. “You can’t take penalties in the third period like that to give a team chasing the opportunity to get back in the game.”
Things had been looking strong for the Thunderbirds.
They built their lead thanks to Wedman’s and some physical work from rookie Lucas Ciona. It would be Ciona, 16, who helped get Seattle on the board first when he fought off three Wheat Kings in the corner while his mates changed lines behind him.
He not only held them off, but he also got the puck and got a shot on goalie Ethan Kruger. The rebound got to Wedman who scored on a wrap-around. Wedman would make it 2-0 four minutes into the third period and Seattle seemed to be on its way.
“I’m more focused on getting the two points for the team but it feels good to pot a couple,” Wedman said. “We’re just taking the positives out of it. We’re playing good hockey, we’ve just got to pull two points out of it.”
Friday was the second consecutive home game that Seattle would fail to hold onto a 2-0 lead as once again, the game turned in what felt like the blink of an eye.
Lynden McCallum would cut the Seattle lead to 2-1 with a power-play goal fired from the high slot at 9:51. Five minutes later Reinhardt tied it up with another score with the man advantage.
The momentum had swung.
“I thought in the third period when the special teams were happening we had a chance to put them away on the power play and we didn’t do it,” O’Dette said. “We took a couple of penalties. Penalties are going to even out. They got their opportunities and scored on them. Its crunch time in the game and their special teams stepped up and ours didn’t.”
In the overtime period, the Wheat Kings took advantage of a Seattle turnover in the neutral zone and Reinhardt would win it off the rush.
The bad news is that the Thunderbirds have lost three straight games but the good news is that they’ve picked up points in the last two and there are signs of improvement.
Handling momentum swings and staying composed jumped up to bite Seattle again and it’s something that the Thunderbirds will need to get a grip on.
“We need line after line to hold serve to keep the momentum in our favor,” O’Dette said. “At times that didn’t happen and it stalled a little bit.”
The Thunderbirds will be able to wipe the taste out their collective mouths right away. They’ll hit the road Saturday night to take on the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick.
“We’ve just got to bring it all in a big road game tomorrow, be road warriors and play our game,” Wedman said. “We’re going to learn from these games and get better. Its’ going to be exciting.”
• If a 3-2 Seattle-Brandon overtime final sounds familiar it’s because the first three games of the 2016 WHL Championship Series were won by the Wheat Kings, in overtime, 3-2. Like Friday, in all three of those games, Seattle had a third-period lead.
• Luke Bateman was awarded an assist on Wedman’s second goal to pick up his first WHL point.
• Simon Kubicek picked up an assist on Seattle’s first goal and he’s quietly having a strong start to the season. In eight games, the Czech defenseman has a goal and six assists.
• Despite the loss, there were positives for Seattle Friday night. The two goals from Wedman were at even strength, something Seattle had struggled early on to do. Ciona played well, as did fellow rookie Kai Uchacz.
“We’re taking the positives and moving forward,” O’Dette said. “Weds is showing signs of life the last couple games and being the weds we know. I thought Kai had a strong game and some of the younger guys are coming around.”