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Thunderbirds easily handle Chiefs

Seven weeks ago, Adam Henry was a member of the worst team in the Western Hockey League.

Now Henry and two others who previously played for the Lethbridge Hurricanes are helping the Seattle Thunderbirds catch fire as the regular season approaches the halfway point.

Henry, a defenseman who entered Sunday’s game with two goals and nine assists, accounted for one goal and two assists as Seattle registered its fourth consecutive victory with a 5-1 cakewalk over the Spokane Chiefs at the Arena.

The Thunderbirds have outscored rivals 22-10 during the streak. They were 8 of 17 on the power play during their three-game weekend, including 3 of 6 against Spokane.

Henry was traded in early October from the Hurricanes, who are 3-22-2-2. Right wing Sam McKechnie and left wing Jaimen Yakubowski joined him in Seattle two weeks later.

“When we first made those trades, there were a few things that I think weren’t necessarily clicking, but now that we have a few games under our belts with the new guys, everyone’s kind of finding some chemistry and pucks are starting to go in the net,” Henry said.

The win allowed Seattle (16-9-1-3) to tie Spokane (17-10-0-2) for fifth place in the Western Conference with 36 points. The Chiefs, 7-8-0-2 since Oct. 18, have lost three consecutive games and four of their last five.

“We gotta learn from our mistakes,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “To me, our team play has really gone out the window. … Our structure has strayed a little bit.”

The Thunderbirds took charge from the start, outshooting the Chiefs 11-0 until Connor Chartier’s shot out front at 7:08 of the first period. By the 13-minute mark, Seattle had outshot Spokane 18-2 and led 1-0 on Roberts Lipsbergs’ goal from the circle at 11:11 on a 4-on-3 power play.

Henry assisted on Lipsbergs’ goal and joined Mathew Barzal in putting away the Chiefs midway through the third period on two power-play goals. At 10:41, Barzal tipped Henry’s shot for a 4-0 lead. Eighteen seconds later, Barzal assisted on Henry’s 12th career goal in the league.

“It’s been over a year, I’d say,” Henry said of his big offensive night. “It’s not something that happens often. It’s just kind of one of those lucky things when things go in.”

The Chiefs avoided the shutout with 8:33 left when Markson Bechtold assisted on Riley Whittingham’s sixth goal of the season. Those two also worked together Saturday for Spokane’s lone goal against Tri-City.

Spokane finished 0 for 5 on the power play and was 1 for 13 for the weekend.

Despite the recent offensive slump, the Chiefs are third in the league with 107 goals, one more than Seattle. Spokane and Seattle will also meet Friday in Spokane and Saturday in Seattle.

“We thoroughly got embarrassed tonight, in my mind,” Nachbaur said. “I know I wasn’t proud, standing behind the bench, at that effort. I think our guys are pretty proud and they’ll come back to play a stronger game next time they face them.”

Chiefs captain Reid Gow was a scratch after suffering an upper-body injury during Saturday’s game at Tri-City. The Chiefs will know more about the injury today.

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