(1090 The Fan) — Suddenly the excellent run of 12 wins in 14 games seems like a distant memory for Seattle.
The Thunderbirds suffered a third consecutive loss — second straight at home — in falling 3-2 to Kamloops in a shootout, Saturday. Matt Bellerive beat his former teammate Taran Kozun for the deciding shootout goal in front of 5,080 at the ShoWare Center.
It wasn’t so much who they lost to (although that was also bothersome) as it was how they lost, which particularly bothered Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
“We gave them their two goals,” Konowalchuk lamented. “Just a few casual moments that kept them in it so that it could go to a shootout.”
Kamloops (13-44-2-3), which entered the game dead last in the WHL’s Western Conference with a mere 29 points, has been a thorn in the side of Seattle all season long. The win Saturday allowed the Blazers to take the season series 3-1 against Seattle despite the team losing its starting goalie early on and having to insert a 16-year-old rookie who was allowing more than five goals a game.
Seattle (37-19-2-4) opened the scoring at 6:14 in the first period on a Shea Theodore drive from the right point that beat Blazers’ starting goalie Bolton Pouliut. Moments later, T-Birds’ forward Russell Maxwell skated hard to the goal on a breakaway only to collide with Pouliut, knocking the net askew. The collision subsequently knocked Pouliut out of the game, forcing Blazers’ head coach Guy Charron to go to Cole Kehler barely seven minutes in.
Despite the rookie’s struggles this season, he held up against a T-Birds onslaught and allowed his team to take control of the game late in the first period.
As coach Konowalchuk alluded to, Seattle handed Kamloops a lead as the first period came to a close. Two mental breakdowns — a turnover and a bad penalty — allowed Collin Shirley and Cole Ully to beat Kozun at 15:35 and 15:51 respectively.
Alexander Delnov broke his scoreless streak with a power-play tally 5:01 into the second period to even the score 2-2. That took the teams into a pivotal third period in which Seattle dominated the puck possession to the tune of a 16-2 advantage in shots on goal.
Not a single one of the 16 were able to get past Kehler, however, and Kamloops pushed Seattle into a shootout where it won for just the 13th time this season.
“We just couldn’t get one past him,” Seattle captain Justin Hickman said of the team’s third period. “I think that we are making strides in the right direction. We just got to keep our heads up and correct the things that we need to correct.”
Added coach Konowalchuk: “It was a good third period. We had some really good chances there…I think for most of the third period we definitely carried the tempo of the game.”
Carrying the tempo, unfortunately, did not allow Seattle to carry home a win. And now the team has lost three in a row for the first time since dropping five straight beginning December 28th.
Certainly not the way the team was hoping to ride into the playoffs. But, there are still 10 games left and coach Konowalchuk and his staff will use every one of them to get the T-Birds back to form.
1. SEA Shea Theodore (17) (Smith, Troock), 6:14
2. KAM Collin Shirley (12), 15:35
3. KAM Cole Ully (29), 15:51 (PP)
4. SEA Alexander Delnov (25) (Bear, Henry), 5:01 (PP)
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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