Updated Jan 5, 2013 - 8:10 am
T-Birds losing streak grows to nine with 6-1 loss in Kamloops
By Andrew Eide
The second half struggles continued for the Thunderbirds Friday night as they dropped a 6-1 decision to the Kamloops Blazers at the Interior Savings Centre. The Blazers picked up two goals from newly acquired Kale Kessy and four assists from Brendan Ranford in the win. The Thunderbirds, once again, struggled to find any consistent offense and were held to one goal as they have lost their ninth straight game.
Seattle (16-20-2-1) started the game strong. Their forecheck pinned the Blazers in their own end for most of the first period and they dictated the play. That pressure did lead to some shots but they missed the net a few times and were not able to turn it into goals. They did take the lead at the 14:38 mark when Justin Hickman knocked home a shot that rebounded off the boards for a power play goal.
"I thought we played a good first period," head coach Steve Konowalchuk said afterwards. "Our mind set was right, it was a good first and if we stick with it there's a good chance we win the game."
Kamloops tied the game with two minutes left in the period on a nice play by Ranford as he patiently waited with the puck until Cole Ully worked his way into the slot. Ranford found him with the puck and Ully beat Danny Mumaugh, who was in net for the T-Birds. After twenty minutes if felt like Seattle had played a solid road period and the effort seemed much stronger than their last game.
The second, however, is where Kamloops (28-10-2-2) took the game over. Aided by Seattle taking a string of penalties the T-Birds were not able to stick with the formula that worked for them in the first period. The Blazers took the lead five minutes into the frame as Joe Kornelson scored and then picked up two more goals by Matt Needham and the first from Kessy. Seattle suffered a couple of defensive breakdowns and failed to offer up much of a response.
For a team that was getting consistent and balanced scoring before this losing streak the T-Birds have found it more and more difficult to get the puck in the net. They've only scored six goals in their last six games, all losses.
"It's a combination of things," Konowalchuk said of his struggling offense. "A few offensive guys not playing as well as they need to be, that's a big part of it, we've got to execute and when there is a play to be made, make it."
Konowalchuk did not like the response his team offered up in the second period after falling behind and you have to wonder if the confidence of the squad is taking a hit during this stretch. Are they suffering from a feeling of 'here we go again' when faced with adversity in the game?
"It's got to end," Konowalchuk said. "That's a reason it's gotten to this point. When the going gets tough we start to feel sorry for ourselves and think about waiting for the next shift or the next game, it has to get better."
Seattle now returns home to play two straight home games against the Spokane Chiefs. The first is Saturday night at the ShoWare Center. It will be interesting to see the mind-set of the club as they try to rid themselves of this long losing streak.
"It's not everybody," Konowalchuk says of his team's struggles. "There are guys in the locker room playing the right way, we just don't have everyone there right now."
Danny Mumaugh made his first WHL start on Friday and for the most part played well for a rookie. He was facing a good team, with a lot of offensive talent and Konowalchuk felt that the young net-minder played well and was not the reason for the loss.
The Spokane Chiefs have their own losing streak going, albeit not as long as Settle's. With their 3-2 loss in Everett last night they now have lost three games in a row. Who will end their skid Saturday night?
Konowalchuk said that he did not know yet whether forward Connor Honey will be back in time for Saturday's game. He is still out, day-to-day, with an upper body injury.
Keegan Kolesar returned home after his short call up with the club. He played well in his one game that he played and Tim Pigulski caught up with him to talk about the experience. Look for that interview next week.
Follow Andrew on twitter @andyeide
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