By: Thom Beuning
EVERETT- A sluggish start to the game put the Seattle Thunderbirds in an early hole they could not climb out from as they fell, 5-1, to the Portland Winterhawks at Angel of the Winds Arena. It was the first of the team’s four preseason games, ahead of the 2021-22 season. Seattle’s preseason schedule continues Saturday when they return to Angel of the Winds Arena to face the Spokane Chiefs at 2 p.m.
After the loss, Thunderbirds Head Coach Matt O’Dette said there is plenty of room for improvement. “Yeah, we were sloppy early. A couple of weird bounces. I wasn’t too happy overall. There’s a lot of work to be done with our habits.”
Portland took advantage of a defensive zone turnover by Seattle to open the scoring two minutes into the first period as Brody Tallman scored on a rebound. Seven minutes later the Winterhawks doubled their lead when Thunderbirds goalie Scott Ratzlaff misplayed the puck into his own net. Luca Cagnoni was credited with the unassisted goal. The Portland lead increased to three at 12:19 of the first period when Dawson Pasternak snuck behind the Seattle defense and slipped the puck five-hole and into the back of the net.
Henrik Rybinski put Seattle on the board late in the first when he scored shorthanded at 15:39. The goal was set up when Reid Schaefer stole the puck at the Seattle blue line and fed Rybinski with a stretch pass for the breakaway goal. Just over a minute later though Portland got that goal back, thanks to Kyle Chyzowski, and the T-birds left the ice down 4-1 after one period.
Seattle had a solid start to the second period, outshooting Portland 6-1 through the first seven minutes, but another defensive zone turnover led to yet another Winterhawks goal as Marcus Nguyen scored at the eight minute mark to push the Portland lead to 5-1. The Thunderbirds could not find an answer even though they outshot the Winterhawks in the period, 9-6. There was no scoring in the third period. Portland outshot Seattle in the game 30-26. Both teams were 0-for-5 on the power play.
Both teams iced young rosters for the game. Seattle had four recently signed 2020 draft picks seeing their first WHL action. “I thought they held their own really well,” Said O’Dette. “We’re not too overly concerned with the Xs and Os. We haven’t covered a lot of stuff. We want to see work ethic and compete and I think for the most part the young guys showed that out there.”
The Thunderbirds open the regular season in Portland October 2nd. Their accesso ShoWare Center home opener is Saturday, October 9th versus Portland.