Updated Mar 1, 2013 - 9:51 pm
Rockets down T-Birds 4-1
By Andrew Eide
The T-Birds were in Kelowna Thursday night in yet another must win game against one of the top teams in the WHL. It didn't take long to determine it wouldn't be Seattle's night as they gave up a goal 16 seconds into a game that may have been a preview of a first round playoff series. The Rockets got 2 goals from Dylen McKinlay in the 4-1 win in a game where Seattle once again struggled to cash in on chances.
"I didn't mind our first period," head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "Other than they scored that first goal I thought we got chances and limited their chances."
McKinlay got the early tally for Kelowna as he beat Danny Mumuagh before the 5,254 people at Prospera Place had found their seats and it looked like Seattle might be looking at a repeat of the 7-0 drubbing they took last time they were in Kelowna. Despite that early set back Seattle actually controlled the play for the rest of the period. They out shot Kelowna but, as has been the case lately, could not capitalize on the many chances they had. They either were stoned by Rockets goalie Jordan Cooke, would pass up a shot, or would miss the net completely.
The story was similar in the second period. Seattle had the better of the play territorialy, could not score and gave up two goals to the Rockets. The first was by Myles Bell, his 35th on the year, on a shot that goalie Danny Mumaugh got a piece of but could not keep from trickling in the net.
A few minutes later Seattle was on a power play, and after turning the puck over in their own end had to chase McKinlay down the ice as he beat Mumuagh with a top-shelf backhanded beauty. Just like that it was 3-0, a lead that seemed, and was, insurmountable. Prior to the breakaway a Rocket's player hit Seattle defenseman Jesse Forsberg up high to keep him from stopping the puck. There was no call on the play in what was a big turning point in the game.
"Once they scored the second goal I thought our guys got flat," Konowalchuk said. "Some guys didn't dig in, the second was where we lost the game, it's unfortunate because there should have been a penalty, we got cross-checked on a dirty play and it wasn't called."
Seth Swenson gave the T-Birds some life in the third when he knocked home a rebound to get Seattle within two. With plenty of time left Seattle was given two more power plays in which they could have reeled the game in but they were unable to get any shots on Cooke. As time dwindled down Seattle came close again as Roberts Lipsbergs had a golden chance but was robbed by Cooke. It seems that one way or another Seattle's shooters have gone cold.
Konwalchuk seemed frustrated by the missed opportunities.
"It's execution," he said. "You have to have the composure, (Justin) Hickman had three chances, he has to put the puck in the net, he's a veteran player and he can do it. Lipsbergs is our best scorer and he had the whole net and could have made it 3-2, he's got to put that puck in the net."
The power play was 0-for-4 on the night and a contributing reason to why Seattle lost despite Konowalchuk employed several different players trying to get it going.
"When our so called 'power play' guys aren't competing like they need to you end up with guys out there who aren't used to playing it," he said.
The game was the only action in the WHL Thursday so there was no change in the playoff standings as Seattle maintains their one point lead over Everett for seventh place. Prince George remains six back.
Seattle travels to Kennewick Friday to take on a red hot Americans club who will then be in Kent on Saturday night to complete the T-Birds weekend.
With the win the Rockets also win the season series winning three of the four match ups.
Connor Honey was again a scratch as he recovers from an upper body injury. While Seattle misses their leading scorer they had plenty of chances to score goals and win this game.
In watching the playoff race while Seattle plays in Kennewick, Everett will host Edmonton and Prince George hosts Kamloops. If Seattle can muster any points out of the game and the other games go to form Seattle will be able to improve their position.
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.