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T-Birds’ Comeback Falls Short Against Winterhawks

Fan appreciation night versus Tri-City on Sunday at 5:05 p.m.

KENT, March 19, 2011 — Despite a late comeback attempt, the Seattle Thunderbirds fell to the Portland Winterhawks 5-4 on Saturday night at the ShoWare Center. With the loss, the Thunderbirds have been eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race.

After falling to a 2-0 deficit in the first period, the T-Birds showed a great amount of determination to come back and tie the game, and almost came back from a two-goal deficit in the third period but fell just short.

Tomorrow night at the ShoWare Center the T-Birds will close out the regular season on Fan Appreciation Night, during which giveaways and promotions will occur throughout the game. Following the game, team awards will be announced, including team Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Most Dedicated, and a number of others.

Portland (50-18-0-3) grabbed a 1-0 lead at 10:43 of the first period on Sven Bartschi’s 34th goal of the season. Craig Cunningham had the only assist.

Pearce Eviston gave the Winterhawks a 2-0 lead at 12:18 of the first on his first goal of the season. Joe Morrow and Ty Rattie were credited with assists on Eviston’s first career WHL goal.

Marcel Noebels got Seattle (27-35-4-5) on the board at 15:02 of the first period with some help from line mate Burke Gallimore. With the Winterhawks set to start their break out and rush the puck up ice, Gallimore forced a turnover in the Portland zone, creating a 2-on-1 odd man rush for him and Noebels. After the Winterhawks defender dropped to the ice in an attempt to cut off the passing lane, Gallimore was still able force a pass to Noebels, who displayed some slick stick work before putting the puck past Portland netminder Keith Hamilton for his 27th goal of the season.

After being hauled down from behind by a Portland defender during a breakaway, Colin Jacobs tied the game when he converted a penalty shot for his 22nd goal of the season. During the penalty shot, Jacobs entered the Portland zone through the right side of the slot and waited for Hamilton to make the first move. After Hamilton went into the butterfly stance, Jacobs snapped a quick shot between Hamilton’s left arm and torso to bring the 5,159 in attendance into a roaring frenzy.

The first period would end knotted at two with the Winterhawks holding a 13-11 shot advantage.

The T-Birds took their first lead of the game at 9:41 of the second period on a power-play goal by defenseman Brenden Dillon. After a scramble in the corner of the Portland zone, center Luke Lockhart managed to push the puck out to Dillon, who was waiting at the left point. Gallimore, who had just left the crowd gathered in the corner, skated to the top of the left circle and received a pass from Dillon. Gallimore immediately sent the puck back to Dillon, who one-timed a low slap shot into the back of the Portland net for his eighth goal of the season.

Portland tied the game at three with 4:31 remaining in the second period on Brad Ross’ 31st goal of the season. Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederretier tallied assists on the goal.

After forty minutes, Portland had outshot Seattle 34-21.

Portland scored two goals in a span of 34 seconds to take a 5-3 lead. The first goal, scored at 7:44 of the third, was netted by Niederreiter and assisted by Johansen and Morrow. At 8:18, Cunningham notched Portland’s fifth score, assisted by Ross and Derrick Pouliot.

With goaltender Calvin Pickard pulled, the Thunderbirds were able to cut Portland’s lead to 5-4. Defenseman Ryan Button faked a slap shot from the right point to bring the Portland defender to his knees, then skated around him and fired a low shot that bounced out to the right of the Portland net. Left wing Brendan Rouse gained control of the loose puck and sent an errant backhand towards the goal that was found by Gallimore, who jammed it home for his 34th goal of the season.

Gallimore’s goal would prove to be Seattle’s last, as the comeback attempt fell short despite a flurry of opportunities during the final minute. With the loss, the Thunderbirds are now officially eliminated from the playoffs, in spite of Everett’s 3-0 loss to Chilliwack.

The Winterhawks outshot the T-Birds 19-10 during the third period, leaving them with a 53-31 advantage at the end of regulation.

Pickard (27-33-3-5) made 48 saves on 53 shots for the Thunderbirds.

Hamilton (17-5-0-2) made 27 saves on 31 shots to earn the victory for the Winterhawks, who clinched the top seed in the Western Conference with the victory and a loss by Spokane.

T-Birds single game tickets for the 2010-11 season are available online at the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare Center box office. The ShoWare Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday game days at 10 a.m. and Sunday game days at noon.

T-Birds group tickets are currently on sale. Group tickets can be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.

SCORING SUMMARY

First period – 1, Portland, Bartschi 34 (Cunningham), 10:43. 2, Portland, Eviston 1 (Morrow, Rattie), 12:18. 3, Seattle Noebels 27 (Gallimore), 15:02. 4, Seattle, Jacobs 22, 19:11 (pen). Penalties – Lockhart, Sea (hooking), 4:49. Leipsic, Por (checking from behind), 8:04. Elliot, Sea (major-fighting), 16:27. Boychuk, Por (major-fighting), 16:27. Wotherspoon, Por (roughing, 10-minute misconduct), 16:27. Alos, Sea (roughing, 10-minute misconduct), 16:27. Lund, Sea (roughing, cross-checking), 16:27. Leipsic, Por (roughing), 16:27. Aronson, Por (hooking), 19:11 (ps).

Second period – 5, Seattle, Dillon 8 (Gallimore, Lockhart), 9:41 (pp). 6, Portland, Ross 31 (Johansen, Niederreiter), 15:29. Penalties – Doty, Sea (roughing), 6:19. Boychuk, Por (slashing, 10-minute misconduct), 6:19. Wotherspoon, Por (tripping), 9:09.

Third period – 7, Portland, Niederreiter 41 (Johansen, Morrow), 7:44. 8, Portland, Cunningham 27 (Ross, Pouliot), 8:18. 9, Seattle, Gallimore 34 (Rouse, Button), 17:10. Penalties – Elliot, Sea (holding), 6:47. Leipsic, Por (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:47.

Shots on goal – Seattle 11-10-10 31. Portland 13-21-19 53. Goalies – Seattle, Pickard 53 shots-48 saves (27-33-3-5); Portland, Hamilton 31-27 (17-5-0-2). Power plays – Seattle 0-2; Portland 0-2. A – 5,159. Referee – Matt Kirk, Shane Warschaw. Linesmen – Chris Carlson, Nathan Van Oosten.

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