Third period explosion gives T-Birds a 5-2 win in Prince Albert
After 40 minutes Wednesday night in Prince Albert the Thunderbirds were staring down the muzzle of another frustrating night.
They were trailing 2-0 as the second period ended despite several good scoring chances against Raiders’ goalie Ian Scott. They pushed the play for much of the game but had nothing to show for it. Head coach Steve Konowalchuk didn’t have to say much to his team in the dressing room during the intermission.
“They were ready to roll,” the coach said.
Roll they did. Nolan Volcan opened the scoring for Seattle in the third and the flood gates opened. Seattle scored five unanswered goals in the final period to come back and win 5-2 at the Art Houser Centre.
Volcan broke the dam and the T-Birds poured in three markers in just 40 seconds. Before the Raiders knew what was happening, Seattle had taken a 3-2 lead.
“It was a real good job by our guys to just stay positive after the second period,” Konowalchuk said. “They were pretty positive. They were real positive and they got rewarded for it.”
Sami Moilanen set up Volcan’s goal after taking the puck deep and behind the Raiders net. He found Volcan in the high slot and the winger fired it through traffic for his fifth of the season. Just 17 seconds later Ryan Gropp knocked home a loose puck in the crease to tie the game at two.
That forced Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid to use his timeout and try to get his players settled down. The tactic didn’t work however as Alexander True got the puck to Seattle rookie Dillon Hamaliuk as soon as play resumed. He would score from the slot for his first WHL goal and gave Seattle a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish.
“It felt like the kind of game where if you could get one, you could get more,” Konowalchuk said. “They got that first one and they were so fired up.”
There were more goals to come for the T-Birds.
After killing off a Prince Albert power play, Seattle would strike quickly again.
It started with Ian Briscoe getting his second and then 54 seconds later Moilanen would score from the slot to make it 5-2 and all but seal the deal.
“This is a valuable lesson,” Konowalchuk said. “Keep with the enthusiasm and stick with what we’re doing and you’ll get it going in the right way.”
Things didn’t look as positive in the first period.
The T-Birds fell behind on two quick Prince Albert goals. Midway through the first, defenseman Loch Morrison fired a shot at the Seattle net that was tipped in by Luke Coleman. Just over a minute later, Parker Kelly slid a puck off the end boards past goalie Rylan Toth to give the Raiders their 2-0 lead.
Toth recovered nicely to shut the door the rest of the way and picked up his fifth win by making 25 saves. Seattle got things going in the second period by generating a ton of scoring chances but would either get denied by Scott or have the puck just miss the net.
Getting chances and not cashing had been a theme for the T-Birds early in the season and Wednesday was starting to look like much the same. They would stick with it this time, which was something their coach had been preaching, and it paid off.
Seattle ended the game by out-shooting Prince Albert 24-7 in one of the more dominant 20 minutes of hockey they’ve played in some time. Overall they threw 44 shots at the Prince Albert net to win two straight for the first time this year and evened their record to 6-6-0-1.
The T-Birds are now 3-1 on their road trip and seem to have some momentum built up.
“If you can keep winning the games it definitely builds confidence,” Konowalchuk said of the win. “There were some bigger picture lessons here in regards to sticking with it and having enthusiasm.”
They continue on the road with a big match up Friday night in Brandon against the Wheat Kings, the team that beat Seattle in last year’s WHL Championship.
• The T-Birds are finding their scoring legs on the road. They have scored 12 goals in the last three games on the trip. All five goals Wednesday were scored while playing even strength, which is another area that the club had struggled in.
• Moilanen’s goal and assist is his second two-point game in his last three and already his third in his rookie season. He is tied with Scott Eansor for the team lead in scoring with 10 points.
• Wednesday night was another reunion for the T-Birds. Former Seattle players Nic Holowko and Cavin Leth were in the lineup for Prince Albert. Leth was held scoreless while Holowko picked up an assist on the Raiders’ second goal.
• Friday is the rematch from last spring’s WHL Final. Like Seattle, the Wheat Kings have had slow start to the season. After 15 games Brandon sits at 6-6-3-0 on the year.