By Andrew Eide
The Seattle Thunderbirds were in Kennewick Tuesday night and ran into one of the best goaltenders in the WHL as they were shut out by the Tri City Americans 3-0. Eric Comrie made 30 saves to keep the T-Birds off the scoreboard while Brian Williams continued his scorching start to the season by scoring all three Tri City goals - his second hat trick in six games.
Coming off a performance on Saturday in Portland where the T-Birds didn't seem to be playing with the right amount of focus and effort there was some improvement on Tuesday. Seattle (3-2-0-0) played a strong defensive first period as the teams ended the opening frame scoreless. For head coach Steve Konowalchuk the overall effort on the night still wasn't up to par.
"Not good enough," he said of the team's effort. "We definitely had a couple of passengers tonight, our second effort was not there tonight."
Williams got Tri City (2-3-0-1) on the board early in the second on the power play when he slipped behind the T-Birds in the zone and swept the puck behind Justin Myles. Myles hung tough on the night, making 28 saves without getting a whole lot of help from his mates in front of him.
Williams second goal came later in the second as he was allowed to wheel around the T-Birds zone with several Seattle defenders waiving at him and score from the slot. He put the game out of reach 18 seconds into the third when he picked up a loose puck on the half-boards and walked out all alone again to beat a helpless Myles.
Three goals was all Comrie needed.
Seattle had their chances on the evening. They were able to get 30 shots on Comrie and had six power play chances. Comrie set the tone early in the game when Mathew Barzal made a nice move to get the puck right in front and broke in one on the Americans' net. Comrie came out, met him and sticked the puck aside. It was that kind of night.
Despite the six power plays they were not able to cash in. They got some good looks during some of the power plays but could not solve Comrie.
"It was a little bit of him (Comrie)," Konowalchuk said of the power play. "It was a little bit of them and not enough of us."
After a fast start Seattle has now dropped two frustrating games and now head out on their first eastern swing of the season. They will travel to Medicine Hat Friday night to take on a Tigers team that just got their best player, Hunter Shinkaruk, back from the NHL's Vancouver Canucks camp.
"We need to get everybody going every night," Konowalchuk said. "When we don't have every one on board it's contagious."
Friday's game drops the puck at 6:30 P.M.
The T-Birds gave up a hat trick for the second straight game - Portland's Oliver Bjorkstrand picked up four goals during Saturday's 10-4 loss.
After only trailing for a total of 42 seconds in their first three games the T-Birds have now failed to hold a lead at any moment in the last two games. Getting off to a better start in Medicine Hat may be key to building that confidence back up.
Justin Myles got the start Tuesday and played well, keeping the team in the game. Konowalchuk says that he will decide tomorrow if Myles will get his first back-to-back start on Friday.
Brian Williams' hat trick was his second of the year and he is the first player in the WHL to do so. He picked up three goals in Tri City's 6-2 win at Portland on September 24th. He now has eight goals on the year, five against the T-Birds.
Williams and Comrie are part of the Americans' Southern California connection. Both played together for the Los Angeles Junior Kings which is one of the top youth hockey programs in the United States. They have produced a number of WHL, NCAA and NHL players.