Ethan Bear’s goals lead T-Birds to 2-1 overtime win over Spokane
KENT – For the third straight game in their four-game homestand, the Seattle Thunderbirds found themselves trailing entering the third period.
For the third straight time, they came back to win the game.
Ethan Bear tied the game in the third and would win it in overtime as the T-Birds beat the Spokane Chiefs 2-1 in a pivotal U.S. Division contest. It was the second straight game that Bear picked up the game winner and the win moved Seattle to within three points of first place.
After going nearly a month without finding the back of the net, Bear now has three goals in his last two games. The Edmonton Oilers prospect is also sporting a five-game point streak.
“For me, sometimes that stuff gets in the back of my head with points,” Bear said after. “Steve (Konowalchuk) said its best if I just keep it simple, play my game and take care of the d-zone first.”
Down 1-0 with under six minutes left in the game Bear got the game even with a wrist shot from the point. The two teams would head into overtime and Bear picked the puck up, skated into the Spokane zone and blasted a point shot that Chiefs’ goalie Tyson Verhelst had no chance at.
“The guy gave me time on the blue line,” Bear said. “I’m not sure why, I just took the chance, took the shot. I put my body into it and hoped for the best.”
His best was pretty good and only took 14 seconds of the extra frame. The T-Birds raced onto the ice and mobbed Bear as the 5,769 in attendance at the ShoWare Center went crazy.
The win completes a sweep of Seattle’s four-game home stand this week and sets up a big one in Everett Saturday night.
Early on, it looked like it might not be Seattle’s night. They struggled to gain any offensive pressure in the first period and only managed three shots against a Spokane team that was clogging things up in the neutral zone.
“That’s not good enough at home for our team and it’s because we were screwing around with the puck,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said about the first period. “We didn’t want to win the hard way.”
The game was scoreless after an uneventful opening period and the second period started much the same manner. Seattle was awarded a power-play chance mid way through the period but that would backfire on them.
Spokane’s Markson Bechtold got behind the Seattle defense and his mates got him the puck. As he moved in on T-Birds’ goalie Logan Flodell he was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot.
He would convert on the penalty shot to give Spokane the lead, he may also have fired up the T-Birds.
“Bechtold, when he scored his goal, he came by our bench and gave us the taunting,” Mathew Barzal said. “We wanted to win.”
In the third period Seattle got back to their game and poured it on. After allowing nine shots in the first period the T-Birds only gave Spokane nine more cracks over the remaining two periods.
They fired 20 shots at Verhelst in the third.
It appeared they had tied the game half way through the third when Nolan Volcan crashed the net and knocked in a loose puck. The play was reviewed and the goal was disallowed.
“(The ref) said we kicked the skate that kicked the puck in and that’s the rule,” Konowlachuk said. “As long as that’s the rule, that’s the rule.”
Seattle kept coming and with under six minutes left, Barzal won a face off and got the puck to Bear. He took a wrist shot through a throng of bodies in front of Verhelst and found the net for the equalizer.
Once again, the T-Birds had fought back. For the third straight time they showed they could be resilient.
“There’s not going to be any free ice out there,” Konowalchuk said about coming back. “Every game is tight, we’ve got to be willing to grind it out and we did. It was a good third period and we were resilient.”
The four-game home stand has seen its share of drama. There have been hat tricks, comebacks and plenty of overtime excitement. Adding to that is the stress of knowing that every game is crucial and every point huge.
“Its the best,” Barzal said of this time of year. “Those are the games you want to play, its when the real players come out to play. There’s hitting, there’s chirping and goals.”
Seattle will hope to score some goals in Everett Saturday night. They have yet to win at XFinity Arena and have dropped five games in the six games against the Silvertips so far.
Saturday, they will have a shot at closing the game to one point with a regulation win.
“We’re not even talking about points,” Konowalchuk said. “We haven’t been for a while, we’re just talking about winning the game we’re playing. We’re just going to go in and its the same approach, like its the last game we’re going to play in our lives.”
• Barzal assisted on both Bear goals and extends his point streak to five games. He has 12 points over that stretch. While he got the helper on the game-winner he admitted he didn’t have to do much. “Honestly, I don’t want to make my assists seem too big,” he said. “But in a three-on-three overtime the faceoff’s crucial. After I won that I didn’t even do anything.”
• Logan Flodell made 17 saves to pick up his fourth straight victory in net. Landon Bow continues to be sidelined with a day-to-day lower body injury.
• Seattle killed off all four Spokane power-play chances and continues to led the league in penalty kill.
• The win was the third in the season series with Spokane. The Chiefs have won five and the home team has won all eight match ups.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.