Kent, WA. –Scott Ratzlaff made 19-saves, including twelve in the third period and the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Spokane Chiefs, 3-1, at the accesso ShoWare Center Friday. The win was Seattle’s sixth straight and fourth in a row at home. Next up for the T-Birds is a trip to Portland Saturday to face the Portland Winterhawks.
T-Birds head coach Matt O’Dette admitted it wasn’t his team’s most complete effort. “We did enough to win. Credit to them (Spokane) they played hard, they’re playing well right now. But there’s better, we have better than that, but we’re happy to get the win and move on to the next game.”
Spokane got on the board first when Chase Bertholet raced down a loose puck and found enough space between Ratzlaff and the post to score 72 seconds into the game. O’Dette said his goaltender did a good job of shaking off that early goal and settling in the rest of the way. “He’s a battler. He’s mentally strong. He shakes off the first goal and stands tall the rest of the way.”
Seattle (29-11-4-1) found the equalizer midway through the first period on a power play goal from Jordan Gustafson. The goal was Gustafson’s 19th of the season, assisted by Lukas Svejkovky and Jeremy Hanzel.
Seattle grabbed the lead with a pair of second period goals. The game winner came at the 2:38 mark when Matt Rempe swept home a rebound of a Nico Myatovic shot. O’Dette singled out Rempe’s performance. “We didn’t have all the forwards going quite at the level that we’re used to, and Remps picked up the slack there.”
The T-Birds added some insurance when Sawyer Mynio blasted home his third of the season at 13:56. “I got the puck at the point and gave it off to (Leon) Okonkwo Prada. He kinda missed a shot, but he gave it back to me. I had lots of time, wound up for a big slapshot and it went in.”
The third period was scoreless, thanks in part to a sprawling, glove save by Ratzlaff with Spokane on the power play. “I made the first save and dove back and just started swimming and it landed in my glove.” There were large stretches of the game where Ratzlaff didn’t face many shots. He says he tried to stay engaged in the game. “You just have to stick to the details. Don’t let your mind wander and stay poised in the net. The shots will come.”
The T-Birds won despite their top line being held off the scoresheet. O’Dette says that’s why team depth is so important. “They’re going to be off some nights. It’s a long season and I don’t think that line was at their best tonight. That’s when you need other guys to step up.”
The T-Birds next home game will be Saturday, February 26th when the go up against the Everett Silvertips at Climate Pledge Arena. Game time is 6:05 p.m. It will the T-Birds first game at Seattle Center since December 2008.
With his first period assist, Jeremy Hanzel improved his point streak to eight games. Henrik Rybinki’s eight game point streak came to an end.
Ratzlaff has still yet to lose a game in regulation when he starts in net for Seattle. Dating back to last season he is 12-0-1-0.
T-Bird defenseman Sam Knazko will play for a bronze medal when Slovakia faces off against Sweden at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Full boxscore: WHL Network