T-Birds fall to Winterhawks
KENT, Wash. –A three goal second period was the difference as the Seattle Thunderbirds fell to the Portland Winterhawks, 5-2, Saturday at the accesso ShoWare Center. It was just the Thunderbirds third loss on home ice this season, and first since November 12th. With the setback Seattle fell to 33-8-1-1 on the season and dropped out of first place in the Western Conference standings. The Thunderbirds are back at the accesso ShoWare Center Tuesday against the Swift Current Broncos. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette said it was a winnable game, but his team got away from their style of play over the final forty minutes. “I thought the first period was really good,” he said. “That’s the way we have to play.” The Thunderbirds outshot the Winterhawks 11-4 in the opening twenty minutes and 38-25 for the game. “After that,” he added, “We got caught up in their style of play and gave up some high-quality chances. Not volume, but high quality. Then in the third period we didn’t have enough of a push.”
Portland scored the game’s first goal. It came on their first shot nearly five minutes into the first period. It started when a Seattle player lost an edge at the Portland blue line, turning the puck over and leading to a Winterhawks breakaway chance. Although Seattle was able to deny the chance with a great back check, Portland got to the loose puck and Luca Cagnoni swept it in.
Seattle responded six minutes later when Kevin Korchinski weaved his way up ice and fed the puck to Gracyn Sawchyn who snapped home his 15th of the season.
The Thunderbirds limited Portland’s second ranked power play to just two chances, and it was Seattle that had the better scoring opportunities shorthanded, but Lucas Ciona rang one shot off the cross bar and Winterhawks goalie Dante Gianuzzi swallowed the puck on his other breakaway.
While Portland was 0-for-2 with the man advantage, their second goal came shortly after a Seattle penalty expired, when Cagnoni scored again 25-seconds into the second period. Portland made it a two-goal lead when Chaz Lucius scored midway through the second period.
The Thunderbirds responded less than two minutes later with Nolan Allan’s eighth of the season at 11:42 off a feed from Sawchyn, but it took Portland just over a minute to regain their two-goal cushion on a Jack O’Brien goal at 12:50.
Seattle would get no closer. Portland would close out the game with an empty net goal in the final minute of play.
I’ve said it before,” commented O’Dette. “There’s their path to win and our path to win. We needed more of our path. They’re good at what they do, we’re good at what we do. They were more opportunistic than us tonight.”
Seattle played the game with three NHL drafted players, Brad Lambert, Colton Dach and Jordan Gustafson, out of the lineup but O’Dette wouldn’t use that as an excuse. “We’ve shown it all year. We’re capable of winning with the team we have, whether guys are gone at World Juniors or what have you. This was a winnable game tonight. We played a pretty good game. Nine of out ten times, we’ll probably come out on the right side of that.”
After Saturday’s game the Thunderbirds and Portland still face each other six more times this season including four times over the last nine days of the regular season. The next game in the season series is February 11th in Portland.
In nine games since returning from winning a gold medal with Canada at the World Juniors, Kevin Korchinski has twelve points (2g, 10a).
Boxscore: WHL Network