Late comeback lifts T-Birds to 2-1 win in Prince George
By Tim Pigulski
The Thunderbirds managed to force overtime in the second of their two games in Prince George this weekend on a late goal by Seth Swenson after trailing for the majority of the game. Seattle sealed the victory two minutes into overtime on a goal by Shea Theodore, grabbing two points in the process and bringing their overall record to 2-2-0-0.
Following an icing call with approximately 15 seconds left in the third period, Luke Lockhart won a crucial faceoff in the Prince George zone. The puck eventually found its way to defensemen Jerret Smith on the right side of the net, who wasn’t able to get a shot off, but managed to make a centering pass from his knees that found its way to Swenson, who scored his second of the season.
In overtime, Swenson rushed the puck up the right side of the ice and into the Prince George zone to create a 2-on-1 opportunity with Theodore. Swenson faked a slap shot and skated around the single Prince George defender before making a cross-crease pass to Theodore who sent the puck top shelf to cap the victory.
Once again, the Thunderbirds were kept in this game by 20-year-old goalie Brandon Glover. Shots were close with Seattle having the advantage 34-30, but the Cougars generated a number of significant scoring advantages that were eventually turned away by Glover.
Not to be outdueled, Prince George goalie Devon Fordyce had a good game as well, stopping the first 32 shots he faced before Swenson’s goal. While most of Seattle’s earlier shots came from bad angles, it’s just as important for a goalie to consistently make the “easy” saves if his team wants to win.
As the saying goes, a goalie can steal you a few games, but they can’t steal you an entire season. Through the first four games of the season, Glover has essentially stolen the Thunderbirds’ first two victories, but the team is going to need to step up in front of him to continue winning games.
Unlike last night when the T-Birds were strong for 50 minutes but lost the game after the Cougars scored three goals in about a five minute span, the T-Birds couldn’t get much going for the majority of the game. With the exception of a Connor Sanvido shot ringing off the crossbar during a shorthanded opportunity, there weren’t many occasions where the ‘Birds came extremely close.
Seattle picked up two points on the weekend, but probably should have had four if not for the breakdown on Friday night. Instead they finish the second weekend of the season with a .500 record. Prince George, on the other hand, has picked up a seven of an eight possible points in their first four games of the season and look like they could be a much more competitive team than many thought entering the season.
The T-Birds play in Kamloops next Friday, then return home to face a struggling Everett Silvertips team that just picked up its first win in Vancouver. The T-Birds will need to win most of their games versus Everett this season if they want to make the playoffs, as it looks like the Silvertips will be hard pressed to win many games.
Shea Theodore had a good game and found himself around the play much more than in the first three games of the season. He led multiple rushes up the ice and was eventually rewarded on a beautiful setup by Swenson when he scored the game-winning goal.
Former T-Bird Colin Jacobs had an assist on Prince George’s only goal of the night, giving him nine points on the season and at least one in each of his team’s first four games. He is currently in a four way tie for first in WHL scoring.
Alexander Delnov was kept out of the lineup for the second consecutive night, but the reason remains unclear. Last night Daniel Wray took his spot in his WHL debut, while tonight Michal Holub returned to the lineup.
The defense gave up 29 shots last night and 30 tonight – much more reasonable numbers than in the first two games of the season. While Prince George’s offense doesn’t quite match that of Portland’s, they still can put up a ton of points. If the T-Birds can keep most of their opponents to around 30 shots per game, they’ll give themselves a chance to win every night.
Seattle has killed 17 of the 18 penalties it has faced – so far a vast improvement over last season. They did a good job again tonight and didn’t surrender many scoring chances when the Cougars had the man advantage.
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