Spokane, WA. – Conner Roulette scored twice, including the game winner, and the Seattle Thunderbirds came from behind to post a, 5-3, win over the Spokane Chiefs in Spokane Friday night. The win was the T-Birds fourth in four games against Spokane this season. The Thunderbirds return home Saturday to the accesso ShoWare Center. The T-Birds host the Kamloops Blazers. Game time is 6:05 p.m.
It was the first time in four tries this season, Seattle (11-3-1-0) trailed after the second period and came back to post a win. Head Coach Matt O’Dette called it a gutsy effort. “Huge character win. Really proud of the guys for staying with it.” He said they overcame some second period issues to do it. “I thought our first period was excellent. That’s the way we gotta play, that’s our blueprint right there. The second period got off on the wrong foot. We didn’t do a couple things that got us going in the first, but the guys buckled down in the third period and got it done.”
It took just 15-seconds into the opening period for Seattle to find the back of the net. Roulette scored his seventh of the season, knocking home a centering pass from Lucas Ciona, who was stationed behind the Spokane net. Jordan Gustafson had the second assist. The Thunderbirds dominated the first period, outshooting the Chiefs, 19-3 and took their one-goal lead into the first intermission.
Spokane netminder Mason Beaupit’s 18-saves held the T-birds off, allowing his team to storm back to take the lead with three goals in the second period. The three goals were scored over a four-and-a-half-minute stretch. Carter Streek scored first, at 3:54. Luke Toporowski followed at 8:09 and 15-seconds later Braden Plaschewsky gave the Chiefs a 3-1 lead. A couple of those goals came off odd bounces but Seattle goalie Scott Ratzlaff shook those off and shut out the Chiefs (3-8-2-0) the rest of the way. “I knew that I had a good team in front of me and I was very thankful for them to battle back. There was lots of game left so I just had to keep moving forward.”
Seattle began its comeback at 17:41 of period two when Henrik Rybinski won an offensive zone faceoff to Beaupit’s left. He slid the puck back to Jared Davidson who unleashed a shot from the top of the left circle, beating Beaupit cleanly. It was Davidson’s fourth goal in his last seven games. Moments later the T-Birds lost Rybinski to injury. He would not return to the game.
The Thunderbirds tied the game at 6:47 of the third period when Sam Popowich redirected Kevin Korchinski’s shot from the left point. Gustafson had the second assist. For Popowich, it was his second goal of the season. “It was just a good play by Gussy there to get it high to Korch. He did a good job of getting it to the net. I got a stick in front and got a good tip on it and it went in for us.”
Seattle has been able to get contributions up and down the line up so far this season and Friday night it was Popowich’s turn to score the big goal. “I think that’s the beauty of our team right now. It doesn’t matter if Rybby goes down tonight. Someone else can step up and every night it’s been someone new.”
The T-Birds took the lead for good when Roulette scored on Seattle’s sixth and final power play of the game, with seven minutes remaining. Gustafson earned his third assist and Korchinski his second. The T-Birds clamped down on Spokane and Ciona added an unassisted empty net goal with eight seconds left to close out the scoring.
Tickets for tomorrow’s home game are available online at seattlethunderbirds.com. There is a guaranteed 50/50 raffle jackpot of $5,000 courtesy of the Thunderbirds Community Sports Foundation.
Connor Martin suited up for the first time as a Seattle Thunderbird. He served as the backup goalie. Martin was acquired from the Victoria Royals November 4th in exchange for an eighth-round pick in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft.
Rybinski’s assist on Davidson’s goal extended his point streak to ten games. There was no postgame update on his injury and his status for Saturday’s home game was not known.
The Thunderbirds are in the midst of three-games-in-three-nights this weekend. After tomorrow’s home contest versus Kamloops, they head north to Everett Sunday for a game against the Everett Silvertips at Angel of the Winds Arena.