The 10-game playoff winning streak of the Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds came to a halt as the Kamloops Blazers took game three of the Western Conference Championship Series.
Kamloops beat the visiting T-Birds 4-1 on Tuesday, May 2 at the Sandman Centre in British Columbia. Game four of the best-of-seven series is Thursday, May 4 at the Sandman Centre. The series returns to the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent for game five at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, May 6.
Nolan Allan scored the only goal for Seattle, which leads the series 2-1. The winner of the series advances to play the Eastern Conference champion for the Western Hockey League title.
T-Birds coach Matt O’Dette said his team needed to be better against a determined opponent.
“You get what you deserve, and we didn’t play well enough to deserve the win,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The T-Birds took three penalties in the first period. They were able to kill off the first, but not the second as Olen Zellweger scored at 8 minutes, 29 seconds. Seattle responded quickly with Allan’s goal coming 90 seconds later.
O’Dette said they started the first period well but didn’t maintain it.
“The first 10 minutes, I thought we were playing the way we needed to play,” he said. “The last 10 I think we fell off that.”
The penalties were an issue.
“It’s hard to get momentum when you’re killing like that,” O’Dette said. “It may have been the reason we fell off the path.”
Kamloops regained the lead for good when Jakub Demek jammed home a puck that had trickled through T-Birds goalie Thomas Milic. The goal came with two and a half minutes left in the first period.
Seattle came close to tying the game midway through the second period. While on the power play, Gracyn Sawchyn popped a puck up over Blazer’s goalie Ethan Ernst. But somehow Ernst was able to keep the puck from crossing the goal line as it rolled down his back. The play did go to review where the call on the ice was confirmed.
“I didn’t see the replay clearly,” O’Dette said.
But he said they had other chances.
“There were some posts, some bounces that didn’t go our way,” he said. “But you have to earn your luck. That’s the old adage. The harder you work the luckier you are. We just didn’t have the luck in our favor tonight.”
Down a goal in the final two minutes of the game, the T-Birds pulled Milic for the extra attacker but turned the puck over leading to an empty net goal for Kamloops. The Blazers added one more late to complete the scoring.
“Winning 10 games in a row in the playoffs is not easy to do,” O’Dette said. “We believe this is going to be a long, hard-fought series. We need to tap into our resiliency and bounce back after a game that didn’t go our way.”
Thom Beuning, of the Seattle Thunderbirds, contributed to this article.