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T-Birds drop first game on ShoWare ice | WHL
The Prince George Cougars defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-4 in a shootout in a game filled to the brim with shots, chances, and offensive hockey.
The loss was Seattle's first at home in 2013-14 and brought their record to 8-3-0-1. Prince George improved to 6-6-0-1.
The T-Birds face the Swift Current Broncos at 7:05 Saturday night at the ShoWare Center.
No shooters scored for the first three rounds of the shootout, as goalies Ty Edmonds and Danny Mumaugh looked calm and comfortable turning aside all manner of attempts. Branden Troock was the first to score in the fourth round, only to be matched by Prince George's Troy Bourke. Following another round of stops, the Cougars' Jordan Tkatch scored the winner after Seattle was unable to beat Edmonds in the sixth round.
Mumaugh stopped 46 of the 50 shots he faced in the game, while Edmonds stopped 40 of 44.
It was a blistering start to the game that saw Seattle bombard the Cougars with physicality, only to have Prince George answer on offense early. Jansen Harkins scored the first goal of the game for the Cougars, steering home his own rebound at 3:01 to put the visitor's up 1-0. There were no assists on the goal.
Seattle's Evan Wardley attempted to jumpstart the offense with a bit more physical play minutes later, checking several of the visiting Cougars to the ice with monstrous hits on consecutive shifts. It worked to boost the team's energy, and the newly-enthused offensive attack responded, with the next few shifts by the T-Birds' bottom lines having multiple chances turned aside by Edmonds.
A hit by Keegan Kolesar created another chance for the T-Birds, a possession that ended in Seattle earning the first power play of the game. Troock's one-man rush up the ice led to another penalty, giving the T-Birds 47 seconds of 5-on-3 time.
Lipsbergs scored almost immediately, tying the game quick enough to give the T-Birds another minute and a half of 5-on-4 power-play time. Shea Theodore and Mathew Barzal received the assists. Barzal's assist extended the longest point streak of any T-Bird this season, pushing it to seven games for the rookie.
Seattle came exceedingly close to taking the lead a minute later when a shot from deep in the Prince George zone caught the inside of the right goal post before rolling out. With just 36 seconds left in the period, the teams went to 4-on-4 hockey after a pileup and subsequent disagreements at the Prince George crease resulted in offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Shots were 13-12 in the Cougars' favor after one period.
The T-Birds started the second period out strong, scoring just as the 4-on-4 time expired when Erik Benoit rifled home a rebound after a Troock shot left the Cougars' goalie sprawling across the crease. Troock and Alexander Delnov earned the assists.
Seattle kept the pressure on immediately following the goal, peppering Edmonds with shots and making Prince George pay for any forays into the offensive zone with even more physical play. A Lipsbergs breakaway almost ended in another T-Birds goal, only to have a centering pass to Jerret Smith just miss the defenseman's stick in front. It was just one of the T-Birds' several near misses in the first eight minutes of the second period, including another puck that bounced past the goal post after coming free from within a scrum in front.
The first assault from Prince George came with 12 minutes left in the period, a barrage that lasted almost two minutes straight but saw Mumaugh stand tall, stopping everything the visitors could throw at him. Unfortunately, the pressure only subsided briefly, as Seattle took their first penalty of the game soon thereafter.
The home team took another penalty near the end of the first penalty kill, which resulted in 11 seconds of 5-on-3 for Prince George. The Cougars' extended power play led to the tying goal when Chase Witala's shot from the left dot found twine. Bourke and Joseph Carvalho were credited with the assists.
The domination of the puck by the Cougars trickled away with five minutes left in the period, allowing Seattle a few chances of their own to take the lead back. The breakthrough came at 18:41 when Riley Sheen beat Edmonds from close to the crease after the winger's attempted centering pass rebounded back onto his stick off a Prince George defenseman. Adam Henry and Ethan Bear earned the assists.
Prince George outshot Seattle 21-10 in the second period but still went to the locker room behind 3-2.
Neither team allowed themselves any complacency at the beginning of the third. Both offenses forced the goalies to make more saves to keep the score at 3-2. Prince George was the first to blink, taking a high-sticking penalty at 7:26 to give Seattle a third power play in the game. While the pressure was certainly there, the T-Birds were unable to score on the man advantage. The energy remained for the home offense, controlling the puck and denying the Cougars any opportunities to tie the game. Edmonds had to stand on his head to keep the score even as Seattle worked the puck around the zone and let loose with shots from every angle in the period's first 15 minutes.
A crucial mistake by the Cougars gave Seattle the man advantage at 16:38 when a defenseman cleared the puck over the glass. The T-Birds struck just 12 seconds into the power play to make the score 4-2. Ethan Bear potted the goal, his first in the WHL, with Hickman and Barzal getting the assists.
Prince George's offense came to life quickly, however, scoring on a rush on the first possession after the T-Birds goal to get back within one. Veteran forward Klarc Wilson scored the goal, and Harkins and Raymond Grewal had the assists. After calling a timeout with under two minutes left, the Cougars pulled their goalie in an attempt to tie the game.
The T-Birds narrowly missed an empty net goal, only to have the tying goal eek across the goal line with 55 seconds left. Bourke had the goal, with Forsberg and Pochiro netting the assists. The game went on to overtime after Seattle outshot the opposition 15-14 in the third period.
Overtime was not left wanting for action as Seattle outshot Prince George 7-2. There was no scoring despite the fast pace and open ice, pushing the game to a shootout that was ultimately won by the Cougars after six rounds.
Single-game tickets are available online at the T-Birds website, tickets.seattlethunderbirds.com, and at the ShoWare Center box office. The ShoWare Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday game days at 10 a.m. and Sunday game days at noon.
Season tickets can be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.
First period - 1, Prince George, Harkins, 2 (unassisted), 3:01. 2, Seattle, Lipsbergs 9 (Theodore, Barzal), 17:19 (pp). Penalties - Pochiro, Prince George (hooking) 15:48. Kosterman, Prince George (hooking) 17:01. Swenson, Seattle (unsportsmanlike conduct) 19:23. McNulty, Prince George (unsportsmanlike conduct) 19:23.
Second period - 3, Seattle, Benoit 2 (Troock, Delnov) 1:39. 4, Prince George, Witala 5 (Bourke, Carvalho) 12:28 (pp). 5, Seattle, Sheen 2 (Henry, Bear) 18:41. Penalties - Henry, Seattle (roughing) 9:11. Wardley, Seattle (cross-checking) 11:00.
Third period - 6, Seattle, Bear 1 (Hickman, Barzal) 16:50 (pp). 7, Prince George, Wilson 5 (Harkins, Grewal) 17:14. 8, Prince George, Bourke 5 (Forsberg, Pochiro) 18:04. Penalties - Wilson, Prince George (high sticking) 7:26. McNulty, Prince George (delay of game) 16:38.
Overtime - No scoring. Penalties - No penalties.
Shootout - Seattle 1 (Barzal NG, Theodore NG, Lipsbergs NG, Troock G, Sheen NG, Swenson NG). Prince George 2 (Pochiro NG, Forsberg NG, Witala NG, Bourke G, Harkins NG, Tkatch G).
Shots on goal - Seattle 12-10-15-7-0 44, Prince George 13-21-14-2-1 51. Goalies - Seattle, Mumaugh 50 shots- 46 saves (4-1-0-1); Prince George, Edmonds 44-40 (6-2-0-0). Power plays - Seattle 2-4; Prince George 1-2. A - 3,533. Referees - Mark Pearce, Jason Nissen. Linesmen - Ryan Gibbons, Bevan Mills.