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Small mistakes big in Thunderbirds loss to Everett

Seattle's Matthew Rempe scored a goal for the Thunderbirds Friday but it wouldn't be enough. (Christopher Mast/Silvertips)

EVERETT – The Seattle Thunderbirds were reminded Saturday night that sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most.

It was a couple of little mistakes that cost Seattle in its 2-1 loss to the Everett Silvertips at the Angel of the Winds Arena, and the first came early on, just one minute into the game.

After failing to get the puck deep, the Thunderbirds had a couple of players collide at their bench trying to make a line change. The Silvertips would capitalize and get behind the defense where Ty Kolle would bang home his 17th of the season to give Everett the early lead.

A small mistake that had a large impact.

“There were a couple of plays leading up that goal that needed to be better,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said.

After Matthew Rempe tied the game in the second for the Thunderbirds, Everett (35-12-3-1) would take advantage of two Seattle mistakes. A too many men penalty was followed by a puck shot out of play for a delay of game call on the Thunderbirds. The Silvertips league-best power play would put them on top during the second chance when Cole Fonstad carried the puck low and found Bryce Kindopp all alone in front.

Kindopp scored his 33rd of the season on what would be the game-winning goal.

“That’s the thing against these guys and these tight games, it’s a game of inches and you don’t know what play is going to be the difference,” O’Dette said. “In the second period, those back to back penalties, the too many men and the delay of game are self-inflicted wounds.

“It kind of put us on our heels for that period. I thought we had a good push in the third to try and tie it up, just didn’t get a bounce to make it happen.”

Seattle (21-25-3-3) did have a push in the third and overall played a solid game while at five-on-five.

With top center Henrik Rybinski out of the lineup due to an injury, O’Dette relied on two rookie centers and one second-year pivot and found success. Playing at five-on-five the Thunderbirds had 51-percent of the shot attempts on the game thanks to a 63-percent advantage in the first period and a 57-percent edge in the third period.

That allowed the Thunderbirds to control the pace for stretches of the night, however, Everett’s Dustin Wolf made it hard to cash in on the puck possession. The Calgary Flames prospect ended the night with 25 saves.

“We can always get more traffic (in front of the net), there’s no doubt about that,” O’Dette said. “Create more scrambles around the net. I thought there were times we could have protected it better down low and sustained more O-Zone time. I’m happy with the effort, the effort was there. The margin of error is small.”

O’Dette had to scramble his lines with Rybinski out.

He kept Max Patterson at center between Payton Mount and Lucas Ciona. In Rybinski’s place on the top scoring line, he had Rempe between Conner Roulette and Keltie Jeri-Leon. Jared Davidson centered a line with Conner Bruggen-Cate and Andrej Kukuca while 16-year-old rookie Kai Uchacz was with Brendan Williamson and Mekai Sanders.

Rempe’s line chipped in with Seattle’s lone goal. They crashed the net and the big center poked home his ninth goal of the season to tie the game in the second period at 1-1.

The young Uchacz line, made up of three rookies, had an impactful game. With Everett having last change they found themselves on the ice a lot with the Silvertips top line. They held their own.

With a consistent forecheck and speed the trio caused some problems and created chances and offensive zone possessions.

“They were putting their big guns over the top when we put those guys out there,” O’Dette said of his rookie line. “They held their own playing with a lot of energy and pace. That was a positive for us.”

The Thunderbirds had three power-play chances on the night but struggled to get the puck into the Everett end and get set up. Seattle came into the game scoring power-play goals in three of its last four outings but in a one-goal game, those failed power-plays were big.

Rybinski is normally a key part of Seattle’s power play and his presence was missed.

“He’s essential to get pucks set up and to win battles to get those sets,” O’Dette said. “They’ve got a good PK, they’re hard to get set up on. It would have been nice to get a little more momentum and opportunity off those power plays but it’s not easy to do against these guys.”

The Thunderbirds had some positives Saturday but came up short for the fourth straight time against the Silvertips.

Despite the loss, they maintained their nine-point lead for the West’s final playoff spot and will be back home Saturday night against the Vancouver Giants with a chance to build on that cushion.

Game Notes

• Seattle goalie Roddy Ross played well in the loss Saturday. He stopped 34 shots and over his last three starts has only allowed four goals thanks to a .958 save percentage.

• After last Saturday’s emotionally charged game between Everett and Seattle, Saturday was fairly calm. The loss of composure hurt the Thunderbirds in the last game, but they held up to the pressure on Saturday. “There’s always going to be a rivalry against these guys, that’s not going to change,” O’Dette said. “This building is hard to play in, it’s loud and we know that momentum swings are important and when goals are scored you need to be composed and get ready for your next shift and I think we did a good job with that.”

• Seattle has a busy schedule this weekend with three more games over the next four days. O’Dette said that they will get goalie Blake Lyda into a game over this stretch but wouldn’t commit as to which game that would be. They will take it ‘day by day’.

• The win clinched a playoff spot for the Silvertips.