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T-Birds in Must Win Mode

KENT, Wash. –The Seattle Thunderbirds surrendered three power play goals to the Portland Winterhawks and fell, 5-1, in Game Four of their second round playoff series at the accesso ShoWare Center Friday. As a result, Seattle trails in the series, three games to one. The Thunderbirds will be fighting to stave off elimination in Game Five back in Portland Saturday. Game time is 6:00 p.m.

T-Birds head coach Matt O’Dette said his team needed to be better to earn a better result. “We didn’t execute the game plan or enough of the game plan well enough.”  He also said discipline was an issue as Portland went 3-for-4 with the man advantage.  Two of the penalties that led to Winterhawks power play goals were of the high sticking variety. “You have to control your stick. You have to be more disciplined in those situations.”

Seattle had a chance to take an early lead when a dump in from center ice deflected and caught Portland goalie Taylor Gauthier out of the net. But Gauthier recovered in time, diving back into the crease to deny Nico Myatovic off the backhand. A few minutes later, Seattle turned the puck over just inside their blue line and Cross Hanas scored unassisted at 7:09. “We didn’t give them a lot of chances, but the chances we gave them were of the ten bell variety.” said O’Dette.

Portland doubled their lead with the first of their three power play goals at 14:35 of the first period. Tyson Kozak redirected a shot from the blue line from Clay Hanus.

Seattle closed to within one with a power play goal of their own, off the stick of Lukas Svejkovsky, at 4:56 of period two. Reid Schaefer and Kevin Korchinski earned the assists. But shortly after, the T-Birds ran into penalty issues and Portland took advantage to score twice.  Hanas scored first, at 11:42 followed by a Jack O’Brien goal at 17:44.

“We should have used our goal as momentum,” said O’Dette. “Instead, we got into penalty trouble. Portland made some adjustments on their power play but we had a player lose a stick on one goal and got caught puck watching on the other.”

Up by three goals, the Winterhawks clamped down, limiting Seattle to just six shots in the third period. Cross Hanas then completed his hat trick when he scored into the empty net with 19-seconds remaining.

Now the T-Birds must win on the road to stay alive and force a Game Six. “We’re a good road team. We have been all season,” said O’Dette. “We played well and just won a game down there. We’re confident in what we can do on the road.”

T-BIRD EXTRAS

Reid Schaefer was awarded a penalty shot late in the second period but was denied by Gauthier.

Former T-Bird Kelti Jeri Leon was in attendance. Jeri Leon led the T-Birds last season in scoring during the pandemic shortened, 23-game season.  He played professionally this past season primarily in the ECHL with the Maine Mariners, but also saw action in the AHL with Providence and Abbotsford.

Former T-Bird Nolan Volcan was also at the game. Volcan was a member of the T-birds 2017 WHL Championship team. He played the last few years at the University of Alberta.

If necessary, Game Six of the series will be at the accesso ShoWare Center Monday at 7:05 p.m.

Full boxscore: WHL Network

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