WHL notebook: T-birds in danger of missing playoffs

It’s tough times in Kent these days.

The Seattle Thunderbirds are struggling mightily, having lost 14 straight, and the skid has Seattle once again flirting with the possibility of missing the playoffs.

The 14-game losing streak is by far the longest in the WHL this season. The next longest skid is eight games, a stretch suffered by both Kootenay and Medicine Hat early in the season. The 14-game streak includes one loss in overtime and one loss in a shootout. Therefore, the T-birds have taken just two points out of a possible 28. The last time Seattle tasted victory was Dec. 7, when the T-birds won 5-1 at Everett.

“We still don’t have everybody going on every night,” Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk told 710Sports.com following the T-birds’ 6-2 home loss to Victoria on Saturday. “It seems like it’s a couple different guys each night that are costing us the hockey game. Until we get everybody going, we’re not in a situation right now where we can have any guys not having their ‘A’ game.”

Seattle, which missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons, seemed certain to end its drought this season. Before the streak the T-birds were 16-13-1-0 and well out of the danger zone. But now Seattle finds itself in the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff position. The T-birds are just three points ahead of ninth-place Prince George, and the Cougars have a game in hand.

The T-birds have been hindered by the absence of their top two scorers. Winger Connor Honey has been out with an upper-body injury, while winger Roberts Lipsbergs was away representing Latvia at the World Junior Hockey Championships, then got banged up shortly after returning.

“They are two big players,” Konowalchuk told 710Sports.com. “They shouldn’t be this big. We have some other guys who should be stepping up and doing better but they (Honey and Lipsbergs) are good players, no doubt about it. Honey brings a lot of compete, Lippy has good compete and good finish, but we should have enough there for other guys to step up and get the job done.”

Seattle’s next chance to end the streak is Friday, when the T-birds return to Comcast Arena to take on Everett.

Around the WHL

Prince George decided not to trade disgruntled 17-year-old center Alex Forsberg, the first-overall pick in the 2010 bantam draft who did not return to the team following the holiday break, at Thursday’s trade deadline. “I’m disappointed that he’s not here,” Cougars general manager Dallas Thompson told the Prince George Citizen. “I’m disappointed in the process, but like I said from the onset we’re going to make the best deal for the Prince George Cougars. Unfortunately, it looks like that may happen later on.” Forsberg will complete the season with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. … In the wake of the trade deadline, Vancouver not only picked up overage center Brendan Rouse up off waivers, they also added overage winger Jason Trott from the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Whitecourt Wolverines. Trott spent the previous two seasons with Portland. … Portland’s Troy Rutkowski was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 20-year-old defenseman had six goals and four assists as the Winterhawks went 4-0.

League leaders

Points — Nicolas Petan (Portland) 74; goals — Josh Nicholls (Saskatoon) 30; assists — Petan 45; penalty minutes — Carter Proft (Spokane) 131; wins — Luke Siemens (Prince Albert), Chris Dreidger (Calgary) 24; goals against average — Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 1.68; save percentage — Mac Carruth (Portland) .939.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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