T-Birds Return Home With 2-3 Record Over Western Canada Road Trip
(1090 The Fan) — It had been nearly two months since the Seattle Thunderbirds struggled through a prolonged losing streak.
So when the team took to the road January 3rd for an extended five game road trip, there was a little added importance for head coach Steve Konowalchuk and his team in coming through it with at least six points.
Prior to hitting the road last Friday for their contest with Red Deer, the T-Birds dropped back-to-back games for the first time since November 19th and 22nd when it lost 4-3 to Everett and 7-1 to Kamloops, December 28th and 31st.
The loss to Kamloops on New Year’s Eve was particularly concerning because the Blazers entered the game last in the B.C. Division standings with just nine wins. More than who the team lost to, it was the effort that the T-Birds brought for that game that really disappointed coach Konowalchuk.
“We got to focus on working hard,” Konowalchuk said looking ahead to his team’s extended road trip. “We got to focus on the details of our game, we have to care not so much about getting scored on as we do getting the goal because we’ve gotten away from that a little bit.
“We’ve got to get going here.”
Unfortunately, it took Seattle another four games to get going the way Konowalchuk was hoping.
Last weekend, Seattle suffered a 5-1 defeat at Red Deer, a 7-0 loss in Edmonton and a 10-2 loss to Calgary to cap a back-to-back-to-back stretch.
But, after being outscored 22-3, the T-Birds went into Prince George and came away with consecutive wins Tuesday and Wednesday to end a 5-game losing streak and at least salvage part of the trip.
Tuesday’s game in Prince George saw the T-Birds score nine goals led by a hat trick from forward Ryan Gropp and a 4-point night by fellow linemate Alexander Delnov (a goal and three assists). Unfortunately, it took another game for the defense to straighten out — the Cougars scored seven goals, Tuesday night — as the team secured a 2-1 win over the Cougars the following night thanks to Danny Mumaugh, who provided 28 saves in the shootout win.
Seattle returns home to prepare for a showdown with in-state rival Spokane (25-13-0-2) which trails Seattle by just one point in the U.S. Division standings. The team is still without forwards Mathew Barzal, Connor Honey, Jaimen Yakubowski and now goalie Justin Myles who is dealing with an illness.
It will be important for the team to build off its two consecutive wins over the Cougars with a continued strong defensive effort as well as consistency from its top lines.
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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