(1090 The Fan) — An emotional third period nearly resulted in Seattle squandering a late 3-goal lead, Friday night at the ShoWare Center.
Fortunately for the T-Birds, Branden Troock created a scoring opportunity with less than 30 seconds to play and Russell Maxwell deposited the subsequent rebound off of Tri-City goalie Eric Comrie for the game-winning goal to lift Seattle to a 4-3 win over the Americans.
Shea Theodore had three assists and Mathew Barzal provided two to lead the Thunderbirds’ scorers on a night the team won their eighth consecutive home game and earned their first season series win over Tri-City since the 2004-05 campaign.
After taking a 3-0 lead midway through the third period thanks to an Ethan Bear drive from the left circle at the 8:00 mark, the T-Birds looked to have the game well in hand.
However, over the next five minutes of game time, Seattle (36-17-2-3) players let their emotions get the best of them as three separate fighting incidents broke out leaving the team severely short-handed down the stretch. Tri-City used the lapse in Seattle’s focus — and the advantage in skaters — to score three goals over a six minute span to erase what had appeared to be a commanding Seattle lead.
“The thing that we can’t have happen is we can’t have those second and third fights. Because then all of a sudden we are down to four (defensemen) and that’s why they were able to get a little bit of momentum,” Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk said.
Tri-City (27-25-3-3) got its goals from Lucas Nickles, Parker Bowles and the equalizer from Beau McCue at the 17:15 mark.
With the game suddenly tied, the Americans seemed to be in good shape with Comrie defending their net. That is until Troock got free, took a pass from Theodore and sent a shot on net that Comrie deflected right to Maxwell who didn’t miss the open net.
“It got a little emotional obviously,” Maxwell said. “But we stuck with it right to the end.”
It had taken over 25 minutes for Seattle to get a puck past Comrie, the Western Hockey League’s goaltender of the month for January. They finally did so when Justin Hickman jabbed a loose puck past him at 7:01 in the second period.
Then, with less than five minutes remaining in the same period, Keegan Kolesar beat Comrie top shelf with a nice wrister from the mid-slot for his second goal of the season and a 2-0 Seattle lead.
Comrie entered with the second best save percentage (.932) and goals against average (2.29) in the WHL. With the 18-year-old goalie leading the way, Tri-City entered Friday night’s contest holding down eighth place in the Western Conference with 60 points.
Seattle, though, picked up the two points, Friday to keep pace with Portland which currently holds a 10-point lead in the race for the U.S. division title. The T-Birds cap a 3-game weekend with games against Everett on Saturday and Prince George, Sunday.
1. SEA Justin Hickman (19) (Barzal, Theodore), 7:01 (PP)
2. SEA Keegan Kolesar (2) (Barzal, Theodore), 15:24
3. SEA Ethan Bear (6) (Henry, Troock), 8:00
4. TC Lucas Nickles (15), 9:25 (SH)
5. TC Parker Bowles (6) (McCue, Astles), 13:53 (PP)
6. TC Beau McCue (18) (Nickles, Williams), 17:15
7. SEA Russell Maxwell (12) (Troock, Theodore), 19:34
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)