Bad bounce sinks T-Birds in 4-3 loss to Silvertips
By Andy Eide
EVERETT — The Seattle Thunderbirds were 16 seconds away from forcing an overtime Saturday night and pulling to within at least two points of first place.
Instead they dropped a frustrating 4-3 decision to the Everett Silvertips at a packed XFinity Arena and find themselves five back.
After coming back to force a tie in the third period, one bad bounce sunk Seattle as their struggles with the Everett Silvertips continue.
With the game tied at three, Nolan Volcan attempted to chip the puck in deep. The puck hit a four-inch wide stanchion on the glass and took a funny bounce into the neutral zone. Everett’s Carson Stadnyk picked it up there and turned the other way. He got the puck to Remi Laurencelle who fired a shot that found the net to put Everett up for good.
It was Laurencelle’s second goal of the game and came with just 16 ticks on the clock, leaving Seattle with not time to recover.
“We were in position there to go to overtime,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “We make the right play to send it in and it hits the stanchion. It’s a bang-bang play and a tough way to lose.”
It was a tough way to lose in a match up that has been tough on Seattle. The T-Birds now fall to 1-6 against Everett and missed yet another opportunity to put pressure on the Silvertips for first place.
While the game was won on the bad bounce goal, it was lost in the second period.
After playing to a 1-1 tie in the first period, Everett came out in the second and dictated the play. Their forecheck caused trouble for Seattle’s defenders, causing several turnovers, and when Seattle did manage to get out of their end they did not manage the puck well in the neutral zone.
“They were better in the second period,” Konowalchuk said. “They out worked us in our own end and we spent most of the time in there.”
The result was a paltry five shots towards Everett goalie Carter Hart, while the Silvertips fired 14 on Logan Flodell at the Seattle end. The Silvertips also took a 2-1 lead in the second when Carson Stadnyk tapped home a back-door pass on an Everett power play.
For the fourth straight game, the T-Birds found themselves trailing heading into the third period. They had shown an ability to come back in the previous three, winning all of them, but Everett is a tough defensive team — especially when they have a lead.
The T-Birds made things tougher on themselves when they fell behind 3-1 only 18 seconds into the final period. Laurnecelle scored his first goal of the night after the Silvertips took the puck away after the face off.
“We got caught on a quick three-on-two,” Konowalchuk said of the goal. “We did recover and then I think they went to the net and threw it on net.”
As they had in the three games over the past week, the T-Birds then got their game going. They managed the puck better and started to build momentum and consistent puck pressure.
Ryan Gropp cut the lead back to one when he fired a deadly accurate wrist shot on a power play for his 28th goal of the season. That goal came two minutes into the period and gave Seattle some life.
They kept pushing and finally with under two minutes left in the game they got the game square off the stick of their hottest player. On the power play again, Ethan Bear took a big slap shot that was blocked initially. The puck rebounded back to Bear who didn’t hesitate to fire it again. With screens in front of Hart he was unable to track it and the shot beat him.
It was the third straight game that Bear had scored a big goal, and second straight he had tied a game in the third period.
Overtime seemed inevitable at that point if not for the dreaded stanchion.
The T-Birds got on the board first Saturday night on the power play when a dump in by Jerret Smith hit the boards and rebounded out in front of the net. Carter Hart stopped it with his stick and tried to glove it but Donovan Neuls beat him to it and poked it in.
The Silvertips would tie the game later in the period after a bad turnover deep in the Seattle end was picked up by Devon Skolenski who beat Flodell. On the night, Flodell made 32 saves and in the second period kept the T-Birds in the game with some spectacular saves.
Had the T-Birds been able to get into the three-on-three overtime they had a chance to get the second point and pull to within one of Everett. But it was all for naught thanks to the bad bounce of the puck and the Silvertips lead grew instead.
Seattle now has more work to do if they wish to catch Everett for the division lead.
“There’s still a lot of hockey to go but we’re not talking about the standings,” Konowalchuk said. “It’s a tight race and we just want to win the next game and see where we’re at next time we match up with these guys.”
Seattle will still get three more cracks at the Silvertips before the regular season ends. The next match up is next Saturday when Everett will head to the ShoWare Center.
If Seattle wishes to win the division, that game becomes a must win.
Ethan Bear has been red hot of late. He’s scored four goals in his last three games and all four have either tied the game or were the game-winning score. He added an assist on Saturday and extended his scoring streak to six games.
Mathew Barzal picked up an assist on Bear’s goal and also is on a six-game scoring streak.
The U.S. Division continues to be tight. With Seattle’s loss, Portland now pulls to within two points of the T-Birds for second place and Spokane is three back. The T-Birds do have a game in hand with Portland however.
Seattle will next be in action on Tuesday when they host the Vancouver Giants at the ShoWare Center.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.