Ams finish regular season with 6-1 loss

March 16, 2014 

After being manhandled by Portland two games in a row, Shea Theodore had had enough.

The Seattle defenseman scored twice and added an assist as the Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans 6-1 before a Sunday night crowd of 4,890 at Toyota Center.

“We got the two points, that’s what we came here to do,” said Theodore, whose two goals put him at the top of the franchise list for goals by a defenseman with 45. Deron Quint (1993-95) had 44. “This group of guys wanted to play the right way going into the playoffs and we did that.”

With the win, Seattle (41-25-2-4, 88 points) clinched the No. 4 seed, edging Everett (39-23-7-3, 88 points) by virtue of more wins. The two will face each other in the playoffs, playing an alternating game format because of building availability in Kent and Everett. The series will start Saturday in Kent.

The Americans (29-33-4-6, 68 points), who finished eighth in the Western Conference, open the first round of the playoffs Saturday at Kelowna.

After a 3-0 win over Spokane on Saturday, the Americans failed to perform at the same level against the T-birds.

“You always want to win,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. “I thought 5-on-5 we played pretty well the first half of the game, then it geared up and got one-sided.”

Tri-City veteran defenseman Justin Hamonic said the team wasn’t ready from the get go.

“It was a different atmosphere than it was last night against Spokane,’ Hamonic said. “I think the last few games we started to turn things around and come closer as a team. It’s something we can take as a positive going into the playoff against Kelowna.”

With a No. 4 seed in the Western Conference on the line, the Thunderbirds came out on a mission at the start of the game, and took a 2-0 lead on a pair of power-play goals before the period was half over.

Theodore gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 2:33 with a blast from the point, and Alexander Delnov made it 2-0 at 9:55.

After reeling in a feed from Theodore in the right face-off circle, Delnov drove to the net and beat rookie Evan Sarthou for his 29th goal of the season.

The Americans got on the board at 1:31 of the second as rookie Morgan Geekie, playing his first WHL game, scored his first goal, redirecting a shot from the point by Parker Wotherspoon for a 2-1 game.

“I thought that I had put it in,” Geekie said of the goal. “It was a good shot by our defenseman. I had a lot of fun. I knew there was a chance I could play when I came here, but I wasn’t expecting it.”

Shortly after Geekie’s goal, Seattle’s Branden Troock was awarded a penalty shot, but he rang the puck off the right pipe.

No worries. The goals just kept coming for the Thunderbirds. Mitch Elliot and Justin Hickman added goals  for a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

In the third, Theodore scored his second of the night at 4:12, while Troock added a wrap-around goal 56 seconds later for a 6-1 lead.

Tri-City looked to cut into Seattle’s lead when Parker Bowles was hauled down by Ethan Bear at 13:58 and awarded a penalty shot.

Bowles tried to sneak the puck in at the left post, but Taran Kozun made a skate save.

Notes: Tri-City F Brian Williams, who played all 72 games this season, played his 200th WHL game. ... Spokane’s Mitch Holmberg won the WHL scoring title with 118 points (62 goals, 56 assists). ... All of the playoff matchups are set, except the No. 8 seed from the Eastern Conference. For the first time since 2009, there will be a one-game playoff for the final berth between Red Deer and Prince Albert. The game will be Tuesday in Red Deer. The winner will meet Edmonton in the first round. ... The Western Conference playoffs are: (1) Kelowna vs. (8) Tri-City; (2) Portland vs. (7) Vancouver; (3) Victoria vs. (6) Spokane and (4) Seattle vs. (5) Everett. ... The Eastern Conference playoffs are: (1) Edmonton vs. (8) Red Deer/Prince Albert; (2) Regina vs. (7) Brandon; (3) Calgary vs. (6) Kootenay and (4) Medicine Hat vs. (5) Swift Current.

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