Rockets win, push T-birds to the brink
The Seattle Thunderbirds managed only one goal on 10 power-play chances and find themselves in a deep 3-0 canyon in a second-round Western Hockey League playoff series against the Kelowna Rockets.
Special to The Seattle Times
KENT — The Seattle Thunderbirds managed only one goal on 10 power-play chances and find themselves in a deep 3-0 canyon in a second-round Western Hockey League playoff series against the Kelowna Rockets.
The Thunderbirds lost a frustrating 5-4 decision Tuesday night, and the Rockets can close out the series with a win Wednesday night at ShoWare Center.
The Thunderbirds, who had Kelowna down 3-0 last season before losing an opening-round series in seven games, certainly didn’t lack for scoring chances.
The T-birds had four 5-on-3 power plays and came up with only one goal by Justin Hickman that came after Kelowna had built a 5-2 lead in the third period.
The game turned in the first period when Seattle had three consecutive power plays, including two lengthy 5-on-3 advantages. The closest Seattle came to scoring was when Shea Theodore hit the post in what would have given Seattle its first lead in the series.
“The effort is there, the chances are there, but obviously we didn’t get them into the back of the net and score enough to win the game,” Seattle defenseman Adam Henry said. “Special-team battles have been an emphasis, and they’re clearly winning that. We have to straighten that out.”
Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk thought his team needed to simply get more shots on net instead of trying to score the pretty goal.
“They’re making the big plays and we’re having big defensive breakdowns,” Konowalchuk said. “The game happens quicker in the playoffs, and our guys aren’t reacting quick enough. We get a little momentum going and then they make a big play.”
The Thunderbirds managed to make it interesting in the third period when Alexander Delnov scored with the Seattle net empty to cut Kelowna’s lead to one goal with more than a minute remaining.
The theme continued with Seattle getting more chances to tie the score, but unable to put the puck in the net.
Konowalchuk didn’t want to talk about what it would take for his team to pull off what Kelowna did last year.
“We have to win one game,” he said. “We don’t want to talk about the series. We don’t want to think about the series. We just have to come out and win one game. That’s what we have to do.”
Kelowna coach Ryan Huska knows his team can’t continue to take so many penalties.
“I’m proud of the way we killed penalties,” he said, “but at the end of the day, it’s tough to win games when you are sitting in the box that much.”
Ethan Bear and Henry scored Seattle’s other goals.