Updated Feb 2, 2013 - 8:07 am
Portland penalizes T-Birds 5-3
Seattle's Riley Sheen collides with Portland's Sean Burke in the first period of Seattle's 5-3 loss (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT - The Seattle Thunderbirds played host to their I-5 rivals Friday night and were very accommodating hosts. Seattle gave Portland ten power plays by taking a string of penalties and while the Winterhawks only converted two of their attempts on the power play it gave them control of the momentum and the game. Seattle had beaten Portland in their last meeting and at times played well on Friday, but the penalties killed any momentum.
"That's a lot of power plays to give that team," head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "It's too much to have a chance, you have to play those guys five-on-five as much as possible, make them work for everything, we had too many penalties."
Seattle (19-29-2-4) skated with Portland in the first period while on five-on-five and actually took a 2-1 lead early in the first period on goals from Connor Honey and Alex Delnov in a 30 second span. The Delnov line seemed to be the only line that was able to generate scoring chances Friday, but they simply weren't on the ice enough because of all the penalties the team was forced to kill.
"It was a pretty bad game," Connor Honey said. "I thought we played decent five-on-five, I thought our line, we didn't have a great night tonight, a lot of turnovers from me, we just have to be better as a team to prevent turnovers because against this team (Portland) there just going to score on every three-on-two they have, we just have to better."
Portland (42-7-1-2) features three of the top five scorers in the WHL in Nic Petan, Brendan Leipsic and Ty Rattie. Those three combined for three of Portland's goals and added seven assists in the game. They simply were given too many chances, both on the power play and then against a depleted T-Birds team. Having to kill 20 minutes of penalties (a full third of the game) is taxing and disrupts the lines and match ups you want.
"Five-on-Five wasn't too bad, but you can't take penalties," Konowalchuk said. "When you give them that many then you're really taxing your penalty killers, they end up sitting back and offensively you can't get going on the forecheck."
A big turning point in the game was the second period, which began with the two teams tied at two goals apiece. Portland took the lead early on a point shot from Shaun McPhersen that beat a screened Mumuagh, and then the penalties struck again. While Seattle was hanging on they took two delay of game penalties for shooting the puck over the glass. It gave Portland a late five-on-three that Ty Rattie cashed in on. That gave the Winterhawks a 4-2 lead and they never looked back.
"The penalties that hurt were shooting the puck over the glass," Konowalchuk said. "They're not undisciplined, it's execution. It wasn't a lack of try but its a lack of execution. Three of those in that period hurts."
In the end it was a tough and frustrating loss for the T-Birds who did play better at times. The game was more competitive than most of the earlier games against the league leading Winterhawks have been, which may be something to build on.
"We've got a lot more confidence against any of the top teams," Honey said. "I think we can put up a really good fight against Tri City's, Kamloops and even Portland. It's just a couple of penalties we have to stop, I mean I took a bad one too, couple of selfish penalties that have to stop, we're on the right track though."
Seattle will be back in action Saturday night as they play host to the Tri City Americans at 7 PM at the ShoWare Center in Kent.
Brandon Glover was given the night off and rookie Danny Mumaugh got the start and made 36 saves on 41 shots. "He's a good goalie," Konowalchuk said of his rookie. "We need to get him in the mix, he practiced real well this week. When I see guys practicing well it gives me confidence to put them in games. We can't play Glover every game, we want to give him a break every once in a while. He played a good game, he stopped a lot of shots, especially through all those kills he still found a way to kind of give us a chance to win there."
Shea Theodore scored a late third period goal on a nice slap shot from the point. It was his 12th on the year and third in the last two games.
Portland out shot Seattle 41-26 which included a dominant second period where they out shot Seattle 12-3. A lot of that had to do with the four power plays they had in the frame.
In the playoff race, Prince George won last night to pull within four points of the T-Birds. Everett, who has the seventh seed at the moment lost to Tri City keeping Seattle four points behind.
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