Thunderbirds Silence Chiefs
Spokane, WA. – Jared Davidson scored four goals, Scott Ratzlaff stopped 19-shots and the Seattle Thunderbirds blanked the Spokane Chiefs, 7-0, Friday at the Spokane Arena. It was the second time in the last week the T-birds have shutout the Chiefs and their third win over Spokane in the last eight days. It’s a quick turnaround for the T-birds who head home to the accesso ShoWare Center Saturday for a showdown with the Portland Winterhawks. Game time is 6:05 p.m.
For the second straight game, with four players in Covid Protocol, Seattle dressed just sixteen skaters, two skaters under the limit. For the second straight game, it didn’t matter. Even with his short bench, head coach Matt O’Dette said his players had the right mind set. “We just came out the right way. We were prepared for a difficult challenge. We had the proper habits and work ethic and it’s nice to get a lead so we can spread out the ice time at the start of a three-in-three.”
The Thunderbirds had to kill off a pair of early Spokane power plays before they got their offense going, scoring twice in the opening period. O’Dette said the penalty kill helped set the tone. “Two early kills that we needed to get. If we give them the momentum early maybe it’s a different start to the game. Special teams in general were very good and the PK set the tone.”
Lukas Svejkovsky set up both first period goals and would finish the night with three assists. Conner Roulette scored first at 9:37 and Davidson chipped in his 16th of the year at the 18-minute mark.
Seattle (23-10-4-0) doubled their advantage with two more goals in the second period. Henrik Rybinski made it 3-0 at 3:53, then Davidson tallied his second of the game, on the power play, at 5:57.
The Thunderbirds would tack on three more goals in the third period, the first two of them from Davidson via the power play. He scored his hat-trick goal at 7:06 then got a fourth on the night at 14:44. Seattle added a late power play goal from Lucas Ciona for good measure.
For Davidson the four goals were a career high as a T-bird. He now leads the team with 19-goals. “When I was a little bit younger, I had a couple of games like this but nothing at this level of hockey, so it felt really good.” Davidson now has four power play goals over his last two games. The T-birds finished the night 4-of-5 with the man advantage. “We’re all building chemistry,” said Davidson of the recent power play success. “We are starting to know where each other are a lot better. It’s getting to be second nature. Everyone doesn’t have to look; we just know where we are and it’s kind of just clicking perfectly right now.”
For goaltender Ratzlaff it was his first career shutout in the WHL. “There were a couple chances there but we spent most of the game in their zone. We were very good defensively, so that helped out.” Still, he said it felt good to get that first shutout. “I knew going into the third there was a chance but I had to stay in the present and take it one save at a time.”
O’Dette said it was not as easy a shutout as the final score might indicate. “A couple of ten-bell saves, a 2-on-1 coming across, a big breakaway save we gave up when we were on the power play. A couple more down the stretch. He was dialed in.”
It’s a busy weekend for the Thunderbirds, not only do they play again Saturday but Sunday they travel north to Everett to face the Silvertips at Angel of the Winds Arena.
With the T-birds shorthanded, especially on the backend where they are missing four of their top six defensemen, they recalled Niko Tsakumis and he was in the lineup versus the Chiefs.
Defenseman Sam Knazko is away with Team Slovakia as they prepare for the Winter Olympics next month in China.
Roulette’s first period goal stood as the game winner and gives him goals in four straight games.
Saturday’s home game is the annual Teddy Bear Toss, to benefit the Forgotten Children’s Fund. Tickets are still available at seattlethunderbirds.com
Full Boxscore: WHL Network