Updated Jan 9, 2013 - 6:51 am
T-Birds keep it close, fall to Spokane 4-3
The Thunderbirds went 0-for-4 on the power play Tuesday night (Briane Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Tim Pigulski
The Thunderbirds dropped their 11th consecutive game on Tuesday night, falling to division rival Spokane 4-3 at the ShoWare Center in Kent.
It was an ominous start for Seattle, as goaltender Brandon Glover took a delay of game penalty just nine seconds into the first period that the Chiefs' Brenden Kichton capitalized on 10 seconds later to give them a 1-0 lead.
"I don't think we came out ready to play," said Seattle Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk. "Obviously you don't want to do that the first shift, but we weren't ready to play in the first period."
Despite being significantly outplayed in the first, the T-Birds managed to keep the deficit at one until Shea Theodore got them on the board with just six seconds remaining.
Theodore carried the puck into the Spokane zone and, while cutting from right to left, managed to finesse a soft shot past Spokane goaltender Eric Williams.
The late goal seemed to give Seattle some momentum, as Mitch Elliot scored 3:26 into the second period to give the T-Birds a one goal lead. After Michal Holub forced a turnover at the Spokane blue line, Elliot gained control of the puck and fired a shot from the slot past Williams.
"[Theodore's goal] definitely helps. You get that goal and come out of there tied in a period where you didn't play very well," said Konowalchuk.
Just a few minutes after Elliot's goal, the T-Birds had a chance to build on their lead when Spokane center Dylan Walchuk went to the penalty box for interference.
Instead, the exact opposite happened, as the Chiefs' Collin Valcourt was able to score a short-handed goal to tie the game and kill Seattle's momentum.
It looked like the Thunderbirds would head into the third period with the lead when Branden Troock scored his third of the season with 2:40 remaining in the period. However, Mitch Aviani responded for the Chiefs with :53 left in the third to tie it and give Spokane the same momentum that Seattle gained at the end of the first.
The third period provided plenty of entertaining action but ultimately saw only one goal, the game-winner, from the Chiefs' Liam Stewart. A turnover in the defensive zone gave Stewart an easy path to the net that he was able to convert to clinch the game.
Seattle once again failed to convert on their special teams chances, going 0-for-4 on the power play and surrendering a short-handed goal. The Seattle Head Coach believes that the number one key to ending their losing streak is exploiting their opportunities on the man advantage.
"We have to execute on the power play and be ready to compete for 60 minutes. We can't give them a first period like we did here tonight when we play in their barn tomorrow."
The teams play their last of three straight games against each other tomorrow evening in Spokane at 7:05 p.m.
Branden Troock looks to be regaining his confidence and getting back into the swing of things. He had a goal, his first since returning from injury, and an assist on Tuesday night. "He's a really good one-on-one player," said Konowalchuk of his star forward. "That's obviously a strength, but it can also be a weakness because he won't move the puck sometimes. There's more there for him. He did some good things, but he's still got some things he needs to work on."
Tuesday night marked the return of forward Roberts Lipsbergs from the World Junior Championships, where he was selected to play for Team Latvia. Lipsbergs was pointless in his homecoming game.
After the rough start, Seattle goalie Brandon Glover played a good game, with the exception of some poor puck handling behind the net that, along with some shaky defense, led to Spokane's short-handed goal. Other than that, he made some nice saves throughout the night.
Follow Tim on Twitter @tpigulski
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