Matthew Wedman hat trick paces Thunderbirds in wild win over Royals
KENT— They say that patience is a virtue and that good things come to those who wait.
The Seattle Thunderbird’s Matthew Wedman put that to the test Saturday night against the Victoria Royals. With Seattle trailing by a goal midway into the third period, Wedman got a chance on the power play. He deflected a pass from Noah Philp that Royals goalie Brock Gould somehow kicked out.
Or did he?
At the next whistle, a minute later, the referees were summoned to the scorers table by the goal review judges. It turned out that Wedman’s shot had gone in. The referee pointed to center ice and the sold out accesso ShoWare Center crowd erupted in celebration, albeit a delayed one.
“I actually didn’t see it go in,” Wedman said of the goal. “So, I was surprised myself when they called it a goal, but it was pretty exciting.”
Two minutes after that goal tied the game at four, Nolan Volcan would streak down the ice while short-handed and rip a shot past Gould to give Seattle a lead. Wedman would then add an empty net goal, giving him his first career hat trick that sent the Thunderbirds to a 6-4 win.
No hats were thrown on the ice however as the official scorers had given the reviewed goal to Simon Kubicek.
“An uncredited hat trick,” Wedman said while coming off the ice.
The goal was properly awarded to Wedman after the game so he will get his first career hat trick and raises his goal total to 17 on the year.
Seattle (16-21-4-1) upped its streak to seven straight games with a point and moved into sole possession of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. Wedman and Volcan provided the goal scoring late but the Thunderbirds also got goals from Noah Philp and Sean Richards. Goalie Cole Schwebius made his first home start and got the win by making 18 saves.
Philp extended his point streak to five straight with a goal to open the scoring with five minutes left in the first period. It was Seattle’s Teddy Bear Toss night and the fans littered the ice with plush toys in response.
The goal was set up by newcomer Henrik Rybinski who caused havoc behind the Victoria net that resulted in Gould sweeping the puck out to the slot where Philp buried it.
“I kind of noticed that they weren’t set, and the goalie looked confused,” Rybinski said of the forecheck. “There wasn’t a lot of talk. I went at the goalie and I don’t really remember what happened, but the goalie kicked it and it went right to ‘Philper.”
It would be Philp’s 17th goal of the year as he ties Volcan and Wedman for the team lead. Saturday’s goal was the first Teddy Bear goal of his career.
“It was pretty sweet,” Philp said. “It was pretty energizing in there, so it was fun to blow the roof off. I don’t even really know how it happen. I saw (Rybinski) digging in around there, I was hoping something would be disrupted. Somehow it popped out.”
It was another strong game for Philp’s line.
Since the trades Seattle made at the deadline, Philp has played with Richards and Rybinski and they have continued to generate offense. Richards would follow up Philp’s goal with his fourth as a Thunderbird while Rybinski picked up two assists.
“I think both of those guys are really smart players and they’re easy to read off and I really like playing with guys like that,” Philp said. “I find it helps me, makes the game easier and it’s been fun.”
While the second line struck early, it would be Wedman and the top line late.
Victoria (22-19-1-0) would tie the game at two on goals by D-Jay Jerome and Kaid Oliver and would take a 3-2 lead early in the third period after Igor Martynov scored on a breakaway. Wedman would answer with his first of the night at 3:12 of the third when he flung a shot through the five-hole to tie the game at three.
The Royals would take the lead back at 4-3 when Mitchell Prowse would score to set up the dramatics late.
For the first time in a while, the Thunderbirds are getting scoring from more than one line.
“That’s kind of been valuable for us lately, is our depth,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “We’ve got four good lines, four lines that we feel comfortable putting on the ice. Obviously as far as match up problems for the other team, you’ve got two lines that can score, and you’ve got the the Kaluski line chipping in.”
The win was also a gut check win for Seattle.
While up 2-0 they were feeling good, but the Royals stormed back and took leads twice in the third period. Instead of folding, the Thunderbirds fought back in a game that they might not have won a month ago.
“I think there were times it felt like it was kind of slipping from our grasp and we strengthened our grasp on the game,” O’Dette said. “Maybe a month ago our composure wouldn’t have been the same. Our confidence level may not have been the same and it might have spiraled out of our reach but there was good positive energy on the bench throughout the game.”
Its not often that a team can trade its top goalie, leading scorer and a top-pairing defenseman and improve, but that is what it appears the Thunderbirds have done.
They’ve gone from dead last in the Western Conference to back into playoff contention and are playing their best hockey of the season.
“It’s a bunch of young guys fighting for ice time,” Wedman said. “A lot of positive energy in the room, some good vibes and its really helping.”