Logan Flodell shuts out Kelowna 2-0 as T-Birds end three-game skid
KENT – The assignment for Thunderbirds backup goalie Logan Flodell was no easy task on Sunday night.
All he had to do was make his first start since Jan. 12 against the Western Conference-leading Kelowna Rockets, who also just happen to have the best offense in the conference.
Flodell responded by making 23 saves to pick up his first career shutout as Seattle snapped its three-game losing streak, beating Kelowna 2-0.
Ryan Gropp and Bryan Allbee each scored as the T-Birds got the much needed win.
For a guy who hadn’t started in a while, Flodell was ready to go.
“I knew I was starting tonight for sure on Monday so for the whole week I was prepared,” Flodell said. “Took as many shots as I could in practice.”
It was tough spot for Flodell to come into. After struggling over the weekend, the Thunderbirds were desperate for a win but facing a top team.
“It is a tough spot,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “But he’s been practicing this week really well. Coming in he looked focused and it was exciting to see him play here. It starts in practice for everybody. If you practice sharp its going to carry over into the games.”
Its not the first time that Flodell has had some success against Kelowna. In a late season game in Kelowna last year, Flodell made 25 saves to pick up a big 3-2 win.
He says that game gave him a bit of confidence coming into Sunday night.
“I thought about that game quite a bit,” Flodell said. “Every line can score on that team. We didn’t give them too much… It’s an awesome moment to get a shutout.”
Both teams were playing their third game in three nights, but it was Seattle that had the jump early. It outshot Kelowna 9-1 early on and would end the night with a 43-23 shot advantage.
If not for some stellar play by Kelowna goalie Michael Herringer, who made 41 saves, the game could have been a blow out.
Seattle generated offense and kept the high-scoring Rockets to the outside on defense. After a tough loss on Saturday when the Thunderbirds played well enough to win, they showed no let down.
“I think they picked up right where they left off with the desperation and urgency that they needed,” Konowalchuk said. “Good solid effort and good game from Flodell.”
Gropp got the T-Birds on the board in the first period when he picked up a rebound off the end boards and quickly snapped a shot past Herringer. It was his 24th marker of the season and third in as many games.
“One of the key points (Konowalchuk) was stressing was getting to the net,” Gropp said. “Making sure we got two forwards to the net, so that was a huge goal for us to get things going.”
Getting to the net was big in the second period when Seattle extended the lead.
The T-Birds got the puck on net and a giant scramble ensued as all ten skaters were in the house area in front of the Kelowna goal. The puck was loose somewhere in the scrum and Allbee was the only one to find it and fling it in for his sixth goal of the year.
It was the greasy goal that the T-Birds have been searching for in the past few weeks.
“We end up scoring but we would have drawn a power play there,” Konowalchuk said of the goal. “We’ve got to continue to build in that area.”
Playing three games in as many nights can be mentally taxing but Gropp says that the team was able to focus and fight through the fatigue.
“You can always get up for these games with Kelowna,” he said. “It’s a good rivalry and they’ve got a lot of good players. The mood was good, everyone was pumped up.”
The win moved Seattle back to within five points of first-place Everett. The Silvertips were 4-1 losers against Spokane on Sunday afternoon.
After a tough weekend where Seattle played well in two losses, getting the win on Sunday ends the three-game stretch on a positive note.
“It makes it feel a lot better,” Konowalchuk said. “We played a lot of periods of pretty good periods of hockey (this weekend). We played three real solid periods here and it would have been really frustrating to come away empty handed, but against a real good team we got two points.”
• Seattle has posted shutouts in four of its last nine games.
• The penalty kill continues to be a strong point for the T-Birds. They kept the Rockets, who have the fourth-best power play in the league, off the board on all four attempts.
• Gropp extended his goal streak to three straight games. He also has a six-game point streak and points in nine of his last 11 games.
• Seattle played down a defenseman as Jerret Smith was a scratch. Smith was injured Saturday in Everett when he was hit from behind by Remi Laurencelle.
• The T-Birds continue to have a busy week as they will host Kamloops on Wednesday before traveling to Portland on Friday and hosting Everett on Saturday.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.