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Shorthanded Thunderbirds no match for Spokane Friday night

Seattle's Ryan Gottfried fights for the puck during the Thunderbirds loss at Spokane. (Larry Brunt/Chiefs)

Friday night’s 9-2 Seattle Thunderbirds loss in Spokane to the Chiefs was a tale of missed chances versus converted chances.

And that was just the first period.

The Chiefs scored four goals, two of them on the power play, in the opening period to build what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. Seattle did score once in the first, to cut the lead to 2-1, but would miss on chances in close.

Had they found one or two loose pucks the score might have matched the effort.

“We were doing some good things and creating some chances,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “They’re a pretty opportunistic team, they cashed in on theirs and they had the power plays. They converted off those as well. Coming out of a pretty decent period and were down 4-1, not how you draw it up.”

It was a big night for Chiefs defenseman, and New Jersey Devils prospect, Ty Smith who picked up a hat trick and a career-best eight points. He scored two goals and two of his assists in the first period. The goals gave him 15 on the season and he’s piled up 50 points.

Seattle (23-29-4-3) only managed a Payton Mount goal, his 13th, and a late Andrej Kukuca power-play score in the loss.

Mount’s goal cut the lead in the first period to 2-1 but Spokane (36-18-4-1) would go on to score the next seven goals.

“I thought we still did some good things throughout the game,” O’Dette said. “I thought at the very end we couldn’t hold our level of play as much. I thought with the short bench guys kept playing hard. We’ve got to put this one behind us.”

The Thunderbirds played shorthanded Friday as captain Conner Bruggen-Cate and defenseman Simon Kubicek were not in the lineup.

“They weren’t available to tonight,” O’Dette said. “They’re day-to-day and we’ll have to see tomorrow.”

Seattle became more shorthanded when 20-year-old Max Patterson was injured in the first period and did not return to the game. After the game, O’Dette didn’t have a sense as to how serious the Patterson injury was and that the team would have to wait to assess the center when they returned to Seattle.

The Thunderbirds were also still missing Henrik Rybinski, who was injured weeks ago.

Those losses made the already young Thunderbirds that much younger and taxed their forward group. Even without the losses, the matchup with Spokane has been a tough one for Seattle.

The Chiefs lead the season series with a 5-1 record and outscored the Thunderbirds 32-15. Loaded with speed, Smith leads the charge on the back end while Adam Beckman, who became the first player in the league this season to hit the 100-point mark, drives the offense up front.

It’s a lineup that has given Seattle fits this year.

“Several odd-man rushes,” O’Dette said. “I think there were chunks of the game where we did slow it down and maintain some O-Zone. Speed-wise they’re hard to keep up with the backcheck…we didn’t do a good enough job of pinning them down and slowing down their rush offense.”

The Thunderbirds maintained their 11-point advantage over the Prince George Cougars for the West’s last playoff spot and will have a chance to help their postseason chances Saturday when they host the Portland Winterhawks.

“Getting back on the home ice on a Saturday night should fire up our guys,” O’Dette said. “We’ll have to use that to get the fire up and the passion and go for two points.”

Game Notes

• Kukuca’s power-play goal in the third period gives the Thunderbirds power-play goals in four straight games. Seattle ended the evening 1-for-3 while the Chiefs were 2-for-3.

• Blake Lyda got the start Friday night and allowed six goals on 23 shots and was replaced by Roddy Ross in the second period.

• Lukas Parik picked up the win in the Spokane net by kicking away 25 Thunderbirds shots.