Updated Feb 16, 2013 - 12:26 am
Giants topple T-Birds 3-2 in Overtime
Shea Theodore celebrates his third period goal (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT - In what has become a common theme the last few weeks the T-Birds lost an overtime game that they were leading late in. This time it was to the last place Vancouver Giants by a 3-2 score. Seattle scored two third period goals to take a lead only to see Vancouver tie it back up and eventually win in the extra frame. Arvin Atwal picked up the game winner 23 seconds into overtime to end the game.
"We didn't have enough guys winning enough battles," head coach Steve Konowalchuk said after. "That team worked harder than some of our guys, we need to get everybody back on board, we didn't have everybody on board."
Seattle started the game strong, controlling the puck and holding Vancouver without a shot for the first ten minutes of the game. Mitch Elliot then took a double minor high sticking penalty that seemed to kill Seattle's momentum. Even though the Giants did not score in those four minutes, Seattle's flow had been disrupted.
"We got into a little bit of penalty trouble," Luke Lockhart said. "That's what killed our momentum, I think other than that we had some good shifts, but penalties are really what set us back."
Going into the second period the T-Birds were unable to generate any sustained offense and saw the Giants take a one goal lead when Taylor Vickerman banged home a rebound in the slot past Seattle goalie Danny Mumaugh. Seattle still could not generate much offensively and the second period ended with them trailing by that one goal. Mumaugh, who made his second consecutive start, made several strong saves and kept Seattle in the game.
"He's playing good," Konowalchuk said. "Every time he's been in there he's shut the door and giving us a chance to win."
With the two teams fighting for playoff spots with Seattle losing, Seattle needed to have a strong third period to win the game and help their playoff chances. After early pressure from Vancouver the T-Birds came to life after an Evan Wardley fight with Dalton Sward. The fight was one-sided and as Wardley skated off the ice he waived his hands to fire up the crowd and inadvertently fell to the ice. That seemed to loosen the team up and they started playing with more fire.
While Short-handed Luke Lockhart got the T-Birds even as he and Adam Kambeitz ended up with a two-on-one that resulted in Lockhart's 16th of the season. As he celebrated there was a sense of relief on the T-Birds bench, and in the crowd.
"I saw Hauf got the puck and I started breaking out, didn't know if he would have the opportunity to hit me or not," Lockhart said of the goal. "Either way I could forecheck down ice but he made a good pass to me and I went down two-on-one and took the shot."
Four minutes later Seattle took the lead as Shea Theodore fired a low wrist shot through a crowd of players that Giants goalie Payton Lee never saw. It was Theodore's 14th goal of the year and got the ShoWare Center crowd fired up. It seemed that Seattle had righted the ship on the night.
The Thunderbirds have struggled of late to hold leads in the third period and the Giants tied the game up on a bad bounce play. A Vancouver shot that sailed wide of the net rebounded back out in front and under the feet of Mumaugh. Mumaugh struggled to find it and could not before Cain Franson had and deposited into the Seattle net. Whether it was bad puck luck or a bad play is up for debate, but once again the T-Birds had found a way to give the lead back.
Seattle has lost their last three overtime games within the first minute of overtime and Friday's game was the quickest yet as it only took 23 seconds for Atwal to beat a screened Mumaugh with a slap shot. Just like that Seattle had lost a chance to catch Everett for seventh place and put even more distance between them and Prince George.
"I don't know if we deserved one point," Konowalcuk said. "We got one and would have been nice to get two and finish it off but we got to learn how to finish them off better. I thought we had a couple of chances on the power play there at the end but couldn't bury them and in overtime we have to find a way to better in overtime."
Seattle's big weekend continues with a big game in Everett Saturday night as they take on an Everett team that has lost nine in a row. This is another chance for Seattle to solidify a playoff berth and with this loss the next two games become even bigger.
"Down the stretch, every points big," Konowalchuk said. "We want to win these games, win these games at home and come out with more points than just one. It's dissapointing but you know what, we did get one, we gained ground on everybody and tomorrow we're playing for seventh place."
Friday's game was the homecoming for long time T-Bird forward Brendan Rouse. Rouse was released by the team at the trade deadline and signed by Vancouver. Lockhart, who has played his whole career with Rouse said it was strange seeing him in a different sweater but in the end you have to play him like you would any other player.
Seattle has now lost a league high six games in overtime.
Theodore's third period goal was his 14th on the season which is fourth best for defenseman in the WHL.
With Seattle's one point and both Everett and Prince George losing the T-Birds are now within two points of the Silvertips and are three points clear of the Cougars. They have a game in hand with Everett.
Follow Andrew on twitter at @andyeide
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