By Andrew Eide
EVERETT- Wash. For the second night in a row the Seattle Thunderbirds relied on stellar goaltending and timely scoring to secure a hard fought win. While the formula may have been the same Saturday night in Everett, the players were different. Goalie Justin Myles earned his first WHL win by making 27 saves and Connor Honey notched two goals as the Thunderbirds downed the Silvertips 3-2 in front of a sell out crowd at the Comcast Arena in Everett.
Two nights in a row Seattle had to play a tough, tight checking game.
“There going to be tight,” Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk said after. “I tell you what, there are some good hockey teams in this division and it’s going to be an exciting year, that team (Everett) is playing well on offense right now, they won a lot of games in a row on their swing and they played a good hockey game. I thought there were some guys on our team, when the game was on the line, with some gutsy performances including the goalie, what a great game by him.”
The goalie, Justing Myles, was making his third career start and held up well. He got off to a bit of a shaky start as Everett scored first as Tyler Sandhu’s shot got through Myles’ legs and slowly crept over the goal line. He settled down after that and stood tall as Seattle had to kill off four penalties, which included a full minute of 5-on-3 action, and held off a desperate Everett rally late in the game with the extra skater.
“It was a little nerve wracking at the start when the ceremony kept going on,” Myles said. “My mind was racing a little because it kept going on and all the pink glow sticks they (the fans) had.”
Despite giving up that early goal the T-Birds fought back. On the power play, Shea Theodore made a nice pass to Connor Honey, who was playing the point, for a nice one-timer that found its way through Everett goalie Austin Lotz. It was Honey’s fourth goal of the season as once again Seattle’s power play was able to strike.
The teams played a pretty even second period until Everett went on the power play with seven minutes left as Seth Swenson got called for checking from behind. The penalty kill for Seattle has been stellar all year, and especially the last two nights, and this time they not only killed it off, but they scored.
Connor Sanvido chipped the puck out of the T-Birds zone up to Alex Delnov who was at center ice and found himself all alone. He moved in on Lotz and beat him with a pretty back-handed top shelf shot for his fifth goal of the season and Seattle had the lead.
“You can see the skill and talent level he (Delnov) has,” Konowalchuk said. “He can make plays, that’s a big time shot, underneath the bar on the backhand. You can see the skill that in a tight game like tonight he can make something happen.”
Everett got the game tied up in the third period just as a Seattle power play was ending. Ryan Murray, who had been serving the penalty, came out of the box and found himself on a 2-on-1 breakaway. He held the puck patiently before sliding it over to Reid Petryk who had the whole net to shoot at for his fifth goal of the season.
Seattle has been getting timely scoring most of the year and got it again less than a minute later when Connor Honey stole the puck, broke into the Everett zone with Riley Sheen. Honey froze the Everett defender before firing a deadly wrist shot that beat Lotz. It was Honey’s second of the game and fifth on the year and it gave Seattle a lead they would not give up.
After that it was Myles’ turn to hold off the Silvertips. He made some nice saves and then with less than a minute to go Everett pulled Lotz for the extra skater and Myles had to make some scrambling saves to preserve the win. He kept the puck out during those frantic moments to pick up his first win. After sitting out all of last year with an injury Myles is enjoying the moment now.
“After being injured it you realize a lot more, how fun hockey is,” Myles said. “You have a lot more fun in the games and you enjoy it more and I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Seattle has one more game in their three games in three days weekend but after the struggles of last weekend the first two games have been a nice bounce back. Neither the coaching staff or the players were happy with last weekend and they all seemed to bear down to correct their mistakes.
“We were not happy last weekend,” Konowalchuk said. “It shows that they weren’t happy the last two games, the way they battled to the end. It’s a tough game but we had some guys, Forsberg, Lockhart, Rouse, Sheen, guys that emptied the tank. Just leave it on the ice, that’s all we ask. You’re not going to win them all but you’re going to win more if you just leave it on the ice everyday and the last two games that’s what they’ve done and they’ve been rewarded.”
Seattle’s record goes to 7-5-0-0 with the win while Everett drops to 6-8-0-1. Seattle has no time to soak this win is as they host the powerful Kamloops Blazers Sunday evening at five pm at the ShoWare Center.
Seattle’s penalty kill continues to be a growing story. They held Everett off the board in four attempts last night and once again Jared Hauf was a force back there. Hauf is really starting to blossom into a good shut down defender.
It seems that every team the T-Birds face these days comes into the game on a hot streak. That being said, none of them came in as hot as the Kamloops Blazers. The Blazers have yet to lose in regulation and lead the world with a 14-0-0-1 record. Their top line of J.C. Lipon (37 pts), Colin Smith (35 points) and Tim Bozon (27 points) are the WHL’s top three scorers. They are a force and Seattle will probably have to play their best game to date to beat them.
Brandon Glover will be back in net for the T-Birds Sunday as he was given a night off Saturday.
Branden Troock and Tyler Alos were again scratches for Seattle and both are still listed as day-to-day with upper body injuries.
During the second period in Saturday night’s game it was noticed in the press box that the scoreboard over the ice was swaying pretty significantly. Nobody seemed to know why until we read later about the 7.7 earthquake that struck British Columbia about the same time. The game wasn’t stopped but it was distracting to see that big scoreboard moving like that.
Follow Andrew on twitter @andyeide