Monday, January 14, 2013

Definitely Tri-in'

The Thunderbirds played a pretty good road game in Kennewick Sunday, only to lose to the Americans and have their winless streak reach 14 games. Seattle had a very good start and grabbed the lead on Brendan Troock's goal six minutes in. Even though they fell behind by the end of the period, they were in the game and got the early goal in the second and tied it back up at two.

The difference in the game turned out to be the power play. Despite generating some quality scoring chances with the man advantage, Seattle couldn't finish when skating 5-on-4 while Tri-City did. The Ams finished 2-for-6 with the power play and ended up winning the game by two, 5-3.

The game turned though on a questionable call that cost the 'Birds a tying goal in the third period. Seattle's forecheck created a turnover at the Americans blue line and with Troock in front of the Ams net creating a screen, Taylor Green wristed a shot through traffic that found its way into the back of the net.

Game tied 3-3, right? Well, no because the referee immediately waved off the goal, claiming Troock made contact with the goalie, preventing him from making a save. I never even thought this was a question of contact between Troock and the goalie, I never saw that. I thought initially that they ruled Troock had redirected the puck with a high stick. Troock was adamant immediately after the play, and for that matter much of the rest of the game, that he had done nothing wrong. He continued to argue his case with the referee well after the goal was disallowed.

Now, after the game T-birds head coach Steve Konowalchuk told ESPN 710 blogger Andy Eide that he looked at the video of the play in question and that there was no contact (this is a play that is not subject to video review during the game).

I understand this is a developmental league for officials, as well as players, but if true and there was no contact, that is a severely egregious error in judgement by the referee. You just can't make that call at that time of the game, with the outcome still in question, unless you are 150 percent sure. I hope he was right because he completely changed the complexion of the game with that call.

You teach these young players to go hard to the net, screen the goalie so that shots from the points can get through or can be redirected. At the very least you put yourself in position to get to a rebound. When a player does everything right in that situation yet still gets penalized, what have you taught him? In this case the call says to Brandon Troock he did everything right but he cost his team a goal in doing so?
So again, I hope the referee got the call right.
I also hope the points Troock has earned in the last few games means he is heating up. Seattle needs his offense. He's getting better with his puck management as well, picking his spots as to when to make the individual play while doing a better job of puck distribution.

You can't say the trades made by GM Russ Farwell at the deadline aren't working out. In two games newcomers Andrew Johnson and Adam Kambeitz have already contributed three points (1g, 2a). Kambeitz plays to the final whistle as is evidenced by the perfect pass he made to Seth Swenson for the late shorthanded goal with the T-birds down three goals. The game was already decided at that point but Kambeitz battled to win the puck along the boards and create something rather then just freeze the puck against the wall.

Hopefully Conner Honey and Roberts Lipsbergs are back healthy soon. At full strength the T-birds forwards can be a dangerous group. There is good depth when at 100 percent. Seattle should easily be able to roll four lines the rest of the season with Lockhart, Kambeitz, Lipsbergs, Troock, Honey, Johnson, Sheen, Delnov, Hickman, Swenson, Sanvido and Elliot or Green with youngsters Michal Holub and Daniel Wray getting games here and there.

What's even better is you can probably expect at least nine out of that group to be back next season as 19 and 20 year olds. In fact, You'll have pretty much the entire roster back next season, so playing winning hockey the second half and getting playoff experience is a big goal between now and April.

In memory of Bruce McDonald, 1971-2012

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