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T-birds have their way with Chiefs again

Spokane Chiefs logo (Courtesy)

Trook’s first WHL hat trick leads Seattle

Branden Troock’s scoring streak coincides with the Seattle Thunderbirds’ winning streak.

Troock’s first hat trick in the Western Hockey League powered Seattle to its fifth consecutive win Friday night as the Thunderbirds dismantled the Spokane Chiefs for the second time in six nights.

“The boys are playing really good hockey right now and I’m just chipping in,” Troock said after Seattle followed up Sunday’s 5-1 win at the Arena with a 7-3 decision. “It’s a team effort and if I can help contribute it’s going to help with the wins.”

Troock, a fifth-round draft pick by the Dallas Stars in 2012, has scored in each game during the Thunderbirds’ winning streak, giving him 13 goals for the season. He added an assist for a four-point game.

“When we’re playing physical, we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” the fourth-year WHL player said. “We have all four lines rolling and all six ‘D’ are playing really well.”

Seattle (17-9-1-3) tied Spokane (18-11-0-2) for fifth place in the Western Conference with 38 points. Seventh-place Tri-City is just one point back as Spokane and Seattle square off again tonight in Seattle.

“Our hockey team has to grow up,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “(The Thunderbirds) have nine 19-year-olds and three (20-year-olds). We’re a lot younger than that and we’re not nearly as big as them. Skill-wise, we can’t hold a candle to them. So we have to find other ways to beat them and one of them is we have to compete harder and we have to play differently than we did.”

The Chiefs, who have lost seven of their last 11 games, played evenly with Seattle until midway through the game. Adam Helewka’s power-play goal at 6:54 of the first period gave the Chiefs a 1-0 edge until Troock got the equalizer right after a faceoff a little more than 5 minutes later.

Spokane went on a power play at 12:03 of the second, but Helewka was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct 23 seconds later, leaving the teams at 4-on-4.

“It’s a 1-1 game and it’s a power play and we get a phantom, brutal call,” Nachbaur said. “(The official) could have chosen to look away and didn’t. Not only did it rattle us, but I thought we stopped playing at that point.”

Jerret Smith and Troock scored on wrist shots 1:02 apart and Seattle was off to the races with a 3-1 lead.

“The guys who were on the ice just got soft,” Nachbaur said. “They played (lousy) and they just got burned. Really, the whole momentum of the game changed on that 4-on-4.”

Helewka added a short-handed goal and Mike Aviani had his 23rd of the season in the third.