Updated Jan 13, 2013 - 8:30 am
T-Birds lose 6-2 to Royals - losing streak at 13
Seattle's Seth Swenson battles for a loose puck in front of the Victoria goal (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
The Seattle Thunderbirds continued their skid Saturday night as they dropped their 13th straight game by losing to the Victoria Royals 6-2. The Royals were led by a hat trick from their leading goal scorer Jamie Crooks in the win. Seattle dug themselves an early hole giving up three first period goals and were never able to recover.
"We were just letting things slide," Shea Theodore said about the first period. "We weren't focusing on systems and that really got us into a big hole that we couldn't dig out of."
It was a first period that saw Victoria score three goals on nine shots and convert on two power play opportunities. The T-Birds did not seem to be playing with any fire to start the game. Seattle replaced starting goalie Brandon Glover after the period, having Danny Mumuagh play the rest of the game. That move seemed more of an indictment on the play of the team as a whole than it did on Glover's performance.
"Anytime you go down 4-0 it's a tough climb," head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "We still don't have everybody going on every night. It seems like its a couple different guys each night that are costing us the hockey game, until we get everybody going, we're not in a situation right now where we can have any guys not having their 'A' game."
Trailing 4-0 in the second period the Thunderbirds got back in the game with two goals. The first was a nice wrist shot from defenseman Shea Theodore, who ended the night with two points, that beat Victoria goalie Patrik Polivka. It was Theodore's ninth on the year and was a power play goal that gave Seattle some life. Five minutes later Seth Swenson was able to bang home a loose puck for his 13th on the year to bring the T-Birds to within two goals.
"We got a few things right," Theodore said about the second. "We were rolling and got two there but it's still not enough if you want to win every night."
That was as close as Seattle would come on the night as Crooks scored his second of the night early in the third before adding a late short-handed empty net goal to close out the scoring. While Crooks celebrated the T-Birds once again tasted a loss in a game that they had to feel like they could have won.
It continues to feel like Seattle can't get all facets of the game working at once. Tonight it was taking penalties in the first period and special teams that let them down. Konowalchuk said he would look at the penalties on tape and if they were bad discipline type of plays he would address it with the team.
The T-Birds were missing both Connor Honey and Roberts Lipsbergs who are their two leading scorers. Honey continues to be out with an upper-body injury and Lipsbergs got banged up in the team's last game at Spokane.
"They are two big players," Konowalchuk said. "They shouldn't be this big. We have some other guys who should be stepping up and doing better but they (Honey and Lipsbergs) are good players, no doubt about it. Honey brings a lot of compete, Lippy has good compete and good finish, but we should have enough there for other guys to step up and get the job done."
Saturday night was the debut of the two new players that Seattle picked up at the trade deadline as both Adam Kambeitz and Andrew Johnson saw plenty of ice time. Both seemed to play hard and with energy but together could not help pull the T-Birds out of their current funk. Kambeitz has a history of being a good leader in this league, and while he just got here, Konowalchuk still feels that he can help the club right away.
"He's an A-plus character that we can put in the locker room," Konowalchuk said of his new center. "He has a high compete level and that will rub off to the other guys."
Seattle is back on the ice Sunday night as they travel to Kennewick to take on the Tri-City Americans.
The team had a lengthy players-only meeting after the game to try and find a way to end the losing streak. "Everybody's pretty down right now," Theodore said. "We're focusing on the positives that we can take from all these games and hopefully we can slide out of it."
Konowalchuk liked what he saw from Johnson and Kambeitz and felt that he will know better how to use them the more he gets to see them. Both players saw time on Seattle's four power plays and Kambeitz picked up a goal on Theodore's goal.
The T-Birds are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference standings but need to keep an eye on Prince George who trails them by only three points for the last playoff spot.
The game was delayed for about twenty minutes in the third period as a portion of the glass was shattered. It appeared that fans banging on the glass after Jared Hauf delivered a bruising check to Victoria's Alex Gogolev broke the glass. Nobody appeared to be injured.
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