At this time of the year every point counts and at the moment the Seattle Thunderbirds are holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot — just six points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. The 2-1 loss was extremely frustrating for Seattle players and coaches who felt as though there should have been at least a few more penalties called on the Everett Silvertips.
Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette wasn’t shy when asked for his thoughts on the officiating.
“They are a good team obviously but the thought that they don’t take any penalties is not true,” said O’Dette.
Despite being out-shot 39-24 the Thunderbirds kept the game close.
The first period had some near misses for the Silvertips.
Connor Dewar barely missed a wrap-around attempt while Sean Richards would rip a wrist shot off the post. At 11:11 of the period, Jake Lee was called for high sticking which sent the Tips to the only power play of the period for either team.
The Thunderbirds penalty kill unit, along with some great play from Seattle goaltender Liam Hughes, was up to the task. While Everett would have the majority of the first period chances it was Seattle who would come out of the period on top. Noah Philp was able to get a puck to the front of the net and Nolan Volcan cleaned up the garbage to give Seattle a 1-0 lead. The period ended with Everett leading in shots on goal 14-8, but trailing on the score board.
The Silvertips tied the game at one with 11:35 left in the second period.
A tumbling puck in front of the Seattle net was banged in by Everett’s Connor Dewar. The goal wasn’t without some controversy though as prior to that, Donovan Nuels appeared to have his stick slashed in half by an Everett player — a no call from the referee’s.
“Obviously it’s a slash, you can’t break a guys stick,” said O’Dette. “it lead to the goal.”
Both teams were on edge the rest of the period and at one point there was almost a repeat of the game on February 16th that featured a line brawl. This scuffle sent three players from each team to the box with two minute roughing penalties.
The Thunderbirds were badly outshot in the period 13-3 but it should be noted the the Silvertips had the advantage of two power plays in the period.
The TBirds head coach praised goaltender Liam Hughes who put in another strong effort.
“He’s been great. We needed him to be tonight and we knew he was going to have to stop some pucks,” O’Dette continued. “He kept it close for us and gave us a chance to win.”
The third period opened with a goal from Everett’s Garrett Pilon at 2:44. The Thunderbirds struggled to get the puck out of their own end and it eventually found its way onto the stick of Pilon just to the right of Liam Hughes — after his shot hit Hughes, it barely trickled across the goal line.
“I didn’t really have it planned,” said Pilon following the game. “It was kind of just panic and hopefully keep the puck on my stick and put it on net.”
Seattle controlled and pressed for the last ten minutes of play for a tying goal, but in the end, they were unable to beat Everett goalie Carter Hart.
There was more controversy in the waning minute of the already heated game.
Seattle goaltender Liam Hughes had gone to the bench for the extra attacker. After a few shots and Seattle pressuring, an Everett player flung the puck down ice in what appeared to be icing, but was eventually waived off by the referees.
After the game, Seattle Captain Turner Ottenbreit had some words of his own concering the officiating.
“For some reason we just don’t get calls.. we work our butts off every game,” he continued. “We just gotta move on and swallow our pride a bit and move forward I guess.”
Coach Matt O’Dette made it a point that he doesn’t want his team to allow the non-calls to effect their play, “we need to use it as motivation and not a distraction.”
If the playoffs started today these two teams would face off against one another, and in genuine Seattle vs Everett fashion, it didn’t go unmentioned.
“They’re celebrating on our ice like they just won the Stanley cup,” said Ottenbreit following the loss. “Whatever, good for them, they won a game, I mean, I hope we get them in the playoffs.”