T-Birds Fall in Preseason Opener
EVERETT, Wash. – In their 2023 preseason debut the Seattle Thunderbirds fell, 8-6, to the Spokane Chiefs at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. The Thunderbirds are back in action in Everett on Saturday when the face the Everett Silvertips at 6:00 p.m. Seattle will play in Everett Sunday at noon when they take on the Portland Winterhawks. The T-Birds lone home game of the preseason is Wednesday, September 13th against the Silvertips at the accesso ShoWare Center.
“There were some really good things out there, some things to like,” commented T-Birds head coach Matt O’Dette on the loss to Spokane. “We just have to work on some of our habits, some systems stuff we haven’t covered yet. We’ll get better but I really liked the effort.”
The Chiefs struck early with a goal from Ben Bonni at 2:36 of the opening period. The T-Birds tied it with a goal from Nishan Parmar at 8:24 with Trey Patterson assisting. The Chiefs responded at 13:19 on a goal from Mathis Preston.
Seattle came close to tying it back up but Antonio Martorana’s shot rang off the post with the Thunderbirds on the power play. Then, with just over a minute left in the period, Spokane made it 3-1 on a goal from Berkly Catton.
A defensive zone turnover early in the second period led to the Chiefs fourth goal, this one from Owen Martin. Trey Patterson cut the Seattle deficit to 4-2 as he skated off the half wall and snapped one in at 8:31. Coster Dunn earned the assist. The T-birds pulled back to within one on a power play goal from Martorana at 13:09. The lone assist went to Hyde Davidson.
A misplay be the Spokane goalie led to Seattle’s fourth goal as Braeden Cootes scored unassisted to tie it up with just under three minutes left in period two. It was another power play marker.
“The compete, the push back in the second was really impressive,” said O’Dette. “You can see some of the bright spots with some of our young guys and what they’re going to bring to the table in the future.”
Martin took advantage of another Seattle defensive zone miscue, scoring his second of the game and putting Spokane back on top at 2:39 of the third period. Seattle answered with a Sam Popowich goal, set up by Kaleb Hartmann at 6:46. It didn’t take long for the Chiefs to regain the lead as Catton picked up his second at 8:20. Moments later Seattle’s Brendan Rudolph rang one off the post on a 2-on-1 rush with Parmar.
With just over six minutes left Rudolph got a second chance and banked in a shot off the goalie’s skake from below the goal line. Parmar assisted on the tying goal.
“It was really fast paced, a lot of hitting.” said Rudolph, the Thunderbirds 2023 seventh round draft pick. “I felt really good in the game. I felt I kept up with the pace, felt I could handle the puck a bit. I felt really good out there.”
Once again the Chiefs answered with a goal from Mason Mayes with just two and a half minutes left. Spokane put the game away with an empty net goal from Chase Bertholet at 19:36.
In his WHL preseason debut, recently signed fifteen year old Jaxson Dikur went the distance in net for the T-Birds, making 26-saves. He was one of eight T-birds to skate in a WHL game for the first time. “It’s all part of their development,” remarked O’Dette. “Every fifteen year old draft pick that gets signed, they get their feet wet in this tournament. Some really good positives to build from for our young guys and they’re certainly going to get better.”
Five of the Thunderbirds six NHL drafted players were held out of the lineup against Spokane and Seattle dressed just two 20-year olds (Patterson and Popowich).
Only five players from last season’s WHL Championship roster, skated in the preseason opener.