T-Birds Rally Falls Short
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The Seattle Thunderbirds stormed back from a four goal deficit but eventually fell to the Kamloops Blazers, 6-5, Wednesday at the Sandman Centre. The loss ended Seattle’s franchise record streak of 19-consecutive games with a point earned. The Thunderbirds play their final regular season road game Friday at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Game time against the Portland Winterhawks is 7:05 p.m.
Seattle fell behind, 4-0, after the opening period before coming back to forge a 5-5 tie at the end of two. Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette said the poor start wasn’t acceptable. “It’s not what we want to do,” he said. “The resiliency to come back is nice. That’s how we need to play, but we need to do that in the first. We were not sharp with fundamentals and our habits.”
The T-Birds (53-10-1-2) gave up four goals on 23 shots before the horn sounded to end the first period. Kamloops struck at 2:28 on an Olen Zellweger goal, struck again when Dylan Sydor scored at 8:23. Fraser Minten made it 3-0 at 10:47 and Logan Stankoven lit the lamp at 15:50.
Seattle began their comeback with a Nico Myatovic goal at 4:16 of period two. Two minutes later the Blazers got that one back as Ryan Hofer found the back of the net. The Thunderbirds responded with the next four to tie it. “That’s a snapshot of how we need to play,” remarked O’Dette of the five goal second period outburst. “We just couldn’t carry that over to the third period.”
The Thunderbirds comeback was sparked by Colton Dach who scored once and added two assists. It was Dach’s second game back from injury and just his seventh game with Seattle since being acquired from Kelowna at the January trade deadline. O’Dette said it’s important to get Dach some games under his belt ahead of the playoffs.
“We’re getting him healthy, getting him going again,” he said. “We’re still in the process of learning what he can bring to the table, how he fits in with our lines and our power play units. He’s a great player. He’s going to be impactful for us. We’re just trying to find some chemistry with who he’s going to play with.”
Goals from Dach, Dylan Guenther, Nolan Allan and Jeremy Hanzel over a ten-minute span got the game even heading to the final period. Hanzel’s goal came with just eight seconds left to bring the T-Birds even. Seattle outshot the Blazers in the second 21-5 and 49-37 for the game.
There was only one goal in the third and it was a game winner for Kamloops. Taking advantage of a Seattle turnover Caeden Bankier scored at 13:43 to break the tie.
After their game in Portland Friday the Thunderbirds return home to the accesso ShoWare Center Saturday to close out the regular season. Game time against Portland is 6:05 p.m.
After an eight-game absence due to injury Tij Iginla returned to the Seattle lineup. The Thunderbirds are still without Jordan Gustafson (lower body) and Gracyn Sawchyn (upper body). Both players are listed as week-to-week.
Seattle and Kamloops split the four game regular season series. Each team won twice, and each team earned five points. The T-Birds did outscore the Blazers on the season, 15-12.
With one goal Wednesday Dylan Guenther is two goals shy of 100 in his WHL career. Guenther, Nico Myatovic and Brad Lambert all increased their point streaks to six games.
With a goal and two assists Jeremy Hanzel had his second consecutive three-point game. It’s third time in his last five games he’s accumulated three points. He leads the league in plus/minus at +70.
Boxscore: WHL Network