By Jim Riley

There's still a long way to go, but with every loss the Seattle Thunderbirds are creeping closer to historic depths of futility in the WHL.

The Thunderbirds lost for the 15th straight time Friday, a 5-1 decision to the Everett Silvertips at Comcast Arena. Seattle is one loss away from reaching the halfway point for the longest losing streak in the history of a league founded in 1966 the 32 straight dropped by the Victoria Cougars in the 1989-1990 season.

The loss dropped Seattle to 16-26-2-1 and lifted Everett to 18-26-0-2 with both teams hovering around the eighth and final playoff spot for the 10 teams in the Western Conference playoff race.

The frustration for this loss for Seattle was compounded by the fact that Seattle outshot Everett 45-23. Silvertips goaltender Austin Lotz made 44 saves.

Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said every player in a Seattle uniform is focused on ending the streak.

"We've mentioned it and addressed everything about it," Konowalchuk said. "Everyone is fully aware of it. We're just at the point where we're just trying to focus on the next game. There's a lot of frustration."

Things won't get easier for Seattle. The Thunderbirds are home against WHL leader Portland on Saturday.

Lotz has three straight wins over Seattle since the holiday break, stopping 116 of 119 Seattle shots in the process and holding the Thunderbirds to 0 for 14 on the power play.

"We're still not getting enough traffic in front of the net," Konowalchuk said. "The goals are going to come. We're better than that. Our guys are fighting it right now, but I could pick out half a dozen times where we could have had a man in front of the net and we didn't. When you're struggling, you have to get guys in front of the net. You can't let the goalie see it."

Everett took the lead on a power-play goal by Kohl Bauml, his 14th of the season, at 2:20 of the first period. Seattle tied it when Jarret Smith tipped in a shot from the blue line that hit both goal posts and went into the net at 9:20 of the opening period.

The Silvertips regained the lead for good at 5:00 of the second period when Bauml made a perfect feed into the slot for Ryan Harrison to tip in his seventh goal of the season. Another goal by Bauml and one by Josh Winquist made it 4-1 after two periods. Manraj Hayer rounded out the scoring with a goal in the third period.