The Seattle Thunderbirds (2-3-0-0) welcomed a familiar foe in the Kelowna Rockets (4-2-1-0) to the ShoWare Center on Friday evening. A trio of former Thunderbirds were dressed for the Rockets on Friday night, including defenseman Jake Lee.
The first period started with emotions running high. Former Tbirds Dillion Hamaliuk and Jake Lee mixed things up right off the bat, resulting in four-on-four play just seconds into the opening frame. Thunderbirds captain Matthew Wedman got Seattle on the board first, with a power-play tally at 4:37 of the first. 1-0 is how the period ended.
The chippyness seen in the first frame continued into the second. The two teams traded chances and blows between whistles until things came to head midway through the second. Lucas Ciona came in to clean up a Kai Uchacz rebound but was slashed on the way to the net, creating a donnybrook after the whistle. Seattle came out of the scrum with a full two-minute five-on-three power play. Seattle made quick work of the two-man advantage, when Simon Kubicek fired a slap shot home off a Matthew Wedman feed. The rest of the period belonged to the visiting Rockets, however. Kelowna struck for four unanswered goals in the final nine minutes, with goals from Nolan Foote (2), Alex Swetlikoff, and Pavel Novak.
“I thought when we got the puck in their end, below their goal line, we did some good things. We just didn’t have it in their end enough. We want to try and avoid the track meet type games and play down low in their end,” O’Dette said of the second period.
The third period opened up in play and pace. Keltie Jeri-Leon scored to bring Seattle within one, and just seconds later, it appeared that Seattle had tied the game off a Gottfried wrist shot from the slot. However, it was ruled no goal as Alex Morozoff contacted Rockets goaltender Roman Basran as the puck went into the net. The Rockets took over the game from there.
“I think there is stuff to build off of. I thought, for the first half of the game, we did a lot of good things. Unfortunately, it got away from us. We’ve had good firsts (periods), bad firsts. Good thirds, bad thirds. I think we’re just trying to piece together a full game, keep the momentum on our side,” said head coach Matt O’Dette of his team’s game.
Kelowna responded with two quick goals of their own — first, from Kaedan Korczak, and then off the ensuing face-off, Dillion Hamaliuk had a puck deflect off his skate for another Kelowna goal in his return to the ShoWare Center. Mark Liwiski and Michael Farren each scored, giving Kelowna an 8-3 lead, which stood as the final score on the evening.
The Thunderbirds are back in action Saturday night against the Everett Silvertips at the Angel of the Winds Arena in downtown Everett at 6:05 PM.