Seattle's Brandon Glover made 44 saves to beat Tri City 3-1 (photo courtesy Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT, Wash. - The Seattle Thunderbirds returned home Friday night after dropping two frustrating games on the road last weekend. In both of those losses they struggled to score, managing one goal in each game. Facing the Tri City Americans Friday, with their all-everything goalie Eric Comrie, it looked like they might struggle to score again. While Comrie kept the scoring down, the T-Birds were able to score enough and lean on their own goalie, Brandon Glover, to deliver a 3-1 victory.
Glover out played Comrie for Seattle on Friday, making 44 saves and only allowing one goal. He kept the Americans at bay all night, especially in the third period and Seattle was able to grit out a win. It was a relief to the club after those two tough games last weekend.
"Definitely," Glover said. "Both games (last weekend) were close to the end, even in Portland where it kind of got out of hand at the end there, but we were hanging in there. We had a hard week of practice and we looked to a lot of the little things that win tight games like that."
As they did in the previous two games the T-Birds struck first halfway through the first period when a Shea Theodore point shot was deflected right to Connor Sanvido who was parked on the Tri City goal line and he swept the puck in for his third on the year. That goal seemed to energize Seattle as they enjoyed several good shifts after that and carried the play for most of the first period and second period.
In the second period the T-Birds controlled the play for most of the 20 minutes, dominating Tri City in all three zones on the ice. They owned the puck and had several close calls only to either miss the net or have Comrie stop them. Tri City managed to tie the game late in the second as Malte Stromwall made a nice cross-crease pass to Tyson Dallman who banged home his first of the season. Despite being out-played by Seattle, the Americans had managed to tie the game.
Seattle came out in the third determined not to have a repeat of the games last weekend and took the lead for good when Brendan Rouse got the puck to Roberts Lipsbergs who was camped in front of the goal and scored his first career WHL goal.
"That was kind of a little broken play," Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "But it was good, he's around that net and shooting, so that was good and it was good for him."
From that point on Tri City threw everything they had at the T-Birds to try and tie the game up. That's when Glover took over. Seattle took two third period penalties but their penalty kill held strong as they turned away every Tri City rush and attempt. Glover made 19 saves in the third period which allowed Seattle to seal away the win, which they did when Riley Sheen fired an empty net goal with 32 seconds left in the game.
"We just really wanted to respond from the last two games," Luke Lockhart said afterwards. "We weren't happy with our performance last weekend, especially Saturday night, really wanted to come out angry, angry this game and just play a full sixty, that's a good team over there, we played well and just stuck with it."
After being pretty frustrated last week, Konowalchuk was happy with his team's effort Friday.
"Pretty solid effort," Konowalchuk said about the game. " I like the first two periods a lot, in the third we got hemmed in a bit, but we did a good job in the middle, really happy with our penalty kill and their effort, the penalty kill was the difference."
With the win the T-Birds improve their record to 6-5-0-0 and will travel north to Everett Saturday to take on a resurgent Silvertips squad. They then will play their third game in as many nights Sunday as they host the Kamloops Blazers.
For the second game in a row the T-Birds juggled their lines somewhat. Luke Lockhart played on a line with Riley Sheen and Connor Honey and while they didn't score they were the best line on the night with several good shifts and scoring chances. "On Saturday I played with Honey and Sheen, and it seems like we're really playing well together and it worked out," Lockhart said about his line.
There was a loud and enthusiastic Latvian group in attendance Friday night. They picked a great night to come as Lipsbergs, who is Latvian, scored his first goal and they celebrated with several large flags.
Tri City's Eric Comrie is a player to watch this year. He is one of the best goalies in junior hockey and will be on several draft lists. Does playing against a heralded goalie affect Brandon Glover? "To be honest I was actually looking forward to playing him," Glover said. "I had heard lots about him, the kid played really well tonight, he's going to be a great goalie and that's what I expected, a low scoring game and it turned into a goalie battle at the end."
Konowalchuk felt that they would probably roll the same lines out against Everett Saturday night.
Tyler Alos and Branden Troock were both scratches with upper body injuries. Konowalchuk did not have an update on their status saying they will have to keep monitoring both of them.
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