T-Birds skid hits three in a row after 3-2 overtime loss to Tri City

Dec 18, 2015, 11:43 PM | Updated: Dec 19, 2015, 2:18 pm

KENT – Overtime has not been kind to the Thunderbirds when they match up with the Tri City Americans this season.

Seattle gave up a late game-tying goal to the Americans and would lose 42 seconds into the overtime period when Jordan Topping scored on a rebound. It was the second time they’ve lost to Tri City in overtime and while the Thunderbirds picked up a point in the standings, they suffered their third straight loss.

After two bad losses, the short-handed T-Birds had a better effort Friday night but were unable to grind out a win.

“It was a much better effort,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “Throughout the lineup I thought most guys were there to compete and play. We made some mistakes but it wasn’t mistakes from lack of focus.

It wasn’t from lack of care or trying to do too much. The mistakes we made were through effort.”

The T-Birds were in position to win the game out right after a hustle play gave them a lead in the third period. Tri City had the puck deep in the Seattle zone and goalie Logan Flodell lost his stick after a scramble in front of the net. To make matters worse, Jerret Smith lost his stick and a glove.

Seattle was able to hold off the Americans and Keegan Kolesar got the puck ahead to Nick Holowko who had some speed. He flew into the Americans’ zone and perfectly centered a pass to Donovan Neuls who banged it home for his fourth goal of the year.

The goal gave Seattle a 2-1 lead and things were looking good for the T-Birds.

It was a big goal for Neuls who has been asked to step in and play center while Mathew Barzal, Scott Eansor and Alexander True – Seattle’s top three centers – are off at the World Junior Championship.

“He played a solid game,” Konowalchuk said of Neuls. “He stepped up the last couple of games and playing in the middle, playing a lot of minutes.”

It wasn’t meant to be Seattle’s night however and the Americans pushed for the tying goal late in the game. They shot the puck on Flodell and stormed the Seattle net.

With the puck loose in the slot, the T-Birds were unable to find it and clear it out of harm’s way. Parker Bowles was able to find it for Tri City and knock it in the net to tie the game.

“They threw pucks in and they took it to the net there and they crashed,” Konowalchuk said of the tying goal. “They may have had all five guys crashing, you know they would. They’re desperate at that point and they found the puck.”

That would propel the contest into a three-on-three overtime session and Topping would end the game early on. Parker Bowles drove the puck to the net, was dragged down but left the puck at the side of the goal where Topping backhanded it past a helpless Flodell.

With the goal the Americans bench emptied in jubilation while the T-Birds skated off the ice dealing with another tough loss.

Tri City goalie Nicholas Sanders was solid for the Americans and made several strong saves to get the win. He ended the night with 27 and kept the puck out of his net, often with some spectacular saves.

Seattle had their chances but may have passed up too many shots, instead looking for a perfect pass.

“Second period I thought we passed up some shots there, and got too cute,” Konowalchuk said. “Better in the third, right before they scored we had a chance and just missed the net.”

After a scoreless first period the two clubs traded power-play goals in the second period. Beau McCue got on the board for Tri City and Smith would score his fourth for Seattle.

The T-Birds will head to Kennewick for a rematch with the Americans Saturday night to complete the first half of the season. The league will shut down for the holidays as players will head home to their families.

After the tough last week Seattle will want to head into the break on a high note.

“We need to bring a little bit more so we can get the two points tomorrow but for me (tonight) was a step in the right direction and we really need to try and go build off that,” Konowalchuk said. “They beat us in our building, we have to go beat them in their building.”

Notes

• Friday saw the return of Nolan Volcan to the Seattle line up. The gritty forward was a welcome addition and had last played on November 13th in Victoria. He had been out with a lower-body injury.

• While the T-Birds were playing the Americans, Seattle center Scott Eansor was in Boston playing for America. The U.S. World Junior team played the UMass hockey team in a tune up game and won 4-0.

• Missing their top three centers showed up again in the face off circle for Seattle. They struggled to win many and it cost them in overtime as they lost the opening face off and never got the puck.

• The game was delayed about 30 minutes due to the Tri City bus struggling to get through the pass on I-90.

Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.

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