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Adam Beckman hat trick pushes Chiefs past Thunderbirds

After being pushed in the back, Seattle's Henrik Rybinski collides with Spokane goalie Campbell Arnold Saturday night. (Brian Liesse/ Thunderbirds)

KENT – Another game at the accesso ShoWare Center against the Spokane Chiefs and another controversial second-period call that goes against the Thunderbirds.

Saturday night it came with the Thunderbirds trailing 2-1 but on the power play with a chance to tie. Henrik Rybinski skated in behind the defense to get a shot on Spokane goalie Campbell Arnold. Rybinski was shoved in the back, causing him to clip Arnold and the two players tumbled to the ice.

The collision led to a pushing and shoving match that included Arnold engaging with Rybinski. Somehow, it would be the Seattle player who was assessed a double-minor for roughing. That resulted in a Spokane power play where Adam Beckman tipped in a shot for a hat trick to give the visitors a 3-1 lead, on their way to a 5-2 win.

“I didn’t see anything that would have put us down,” Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette said of the incident. “I talked to the referee between periods and he said after watching it on video it probably should have been evened up. He apologized. I wish that would have been a different call. We didn’t get the kill. Unfortunate sequence there but that’s the way it went.”

Beckman’s three goals for Spokane (18-9-3-0) all came on the power play as the Chiefs ended the night 3-for-4 with the man advantage. Beckman, 18, who is a Minnesota Wild prospect also added two assists for a big five-point evening and has enjoyed playing in Seattle this week after scoring two more goals last Tuesday in a Spokane win.

Seattle (10-17-2-1) got a pair of scores from Andrej Kukuca in the loss but failed to capitalize on several scoring chances it created throughout the game.

“I think we hit five posts or crossbars tonight,” O’Dette said. “We’re really playing well five-on-five, creating tons of chances. It’s just burying them when we do get them, putting them in the back of the net. The results weren’t there but we’re still trending in the right direction. I like the way we’re playing.”

The trend for the Thunderbirds has been upwards over the last five games and the five-on-five play has been good.

Seattle created chances again on Saturday but have struggled on the power play and killing penalties.

The Thunderbirds are 1-for-21 with the man advantage over that past five games and in two games against Spokane, this week, have surrendered five power-play goals against.

Beckman gave the Chiefs a first-period lead with his first on the night, on a power play when he fired a one-timer from the circle to the left of goalie Blake Lyda. Seattle had a chance to score on the power play earlier in the first when defenseman Tyrel Bauer, looking for goals in three straight games, blasted a slapper off the post.

That’s the kind of night it was for the Thunderbirds.

“Some special teams to clean up,” O’Dette said. “Spokane is a team that can really hurt you on the power play. We’ve seen that on multiple times this year. I thought we played with them five-on-five, we were right there with them. We gave ourselves a chance to win.”

The Thunderbirds did play with the Chiefs at even strength and ended the night equal on the shot clock with firing 35 shots.

It would be an even-strength goal from Kukuca early in the second to tie the game at 1-1 only to see Beckman score on a five-on-three power play to put the Chiefs back on top.

Then came the controversy and Spokane added a third power-play goal and a follow up by an even-strength score from Cordel Larson to build a 4-1 lead heading into the third period.

Scoring four goals is a key for the Chiefs as they have yet to lose when they hit that mark and improved their record Saturday to 17-0 when scoring four goals or more.

With that daunting task, and with the mental deflation of having a bad call hurt them late in the second period, the Thunderbirds started the third period slowly. Kukuca would score again at the 6:54 mark to provide some life but in the end, the Thunderbirds couldn’t find the back of the net and would go on to lose.

“I thought the first part of the third we were kind of feeling it out a little bit, didn’t get quite the jump out of the gates,” O’Dette said. “But, I thought as the period went on we got some momentum, we got that goal to get us kick-started. We had some time in their end, hits some bars. We just couldn’t capitalize.”

The Thunderbirds will try to continue trending upwards Sunday when they go to Portland for an afternoon meeting with the Winterhawks.

O’Dette’s young squad will try to focus on the positives from Saturday, and there were a lot of them, and not let the frustration of the second period slow them down.

“I just told the guys we’re disappointed in the outcome, but our play is trending in the right direction,” O’Dette said of his message to the club. “We’re doing a lot of good things five-on-five, we’ve strung together multiple games. Our body of work is getting better and we’re becoming more consistent.

“I’m happy with the way we’re playing. Results aside I think we’re playing some good hockey.”

Game Notes

• Beckman’s big night moved him into third on the WHL’s scoring leaderboard. His 48 points put him four behind Medicine Hat’s James Hamblin.

• Seattle rookie call up Spencer Penner played his second WHL game on Saturday and recorded his first career point as he assisted on Kukuca’s third-period goal. Penner most likely will sit on Sunday as Cade McNelly is due to come back from suspension.

• Sunday’s game will be televised in the Seattle market on JoeTv.