Matthew Wedman was the hero but it was Andrej Kukuca who set him up as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Medicine Hat Tigers 4-3 in overtime in front of 4,053 fans Saturday night at the accesso ShoWare Center.
Kukuca made a sublime bank pass off the left boards to spring Wedman on a breakaway in overtime. Wedman came in alone on Medicine Hat’s Jordan Hollett skating left to right, beating the goalie high with a backhand shot at 3:18 of the extra frame to send his teammates sprinting off bench to mob him.
Seattle improves 21-26-5-1 and are three points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers in the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference.
Medicine Hat (30-18-3-2) took a 1-0 lead on James Hamblin’s power-play goal at 8:15 of the first period. Ryan Jevne and Linus Nassen had the assists.
Seattle tied the game 1-1 at 11:58 of the second period. Wedman won a faceoff in the right circle to Tyler Carpendale on the right hash marks. Carpendale curled around the top of the circle and took a shot. Carpendale’s shot rebounded off Hollett into the air. Kukuca crashed the net and whacked the puck past Hollett and into the net with a backhand shot before it hit the ice.
The Tigers took the lead back at 18:18 of the second on Tyler Preziuso’s goal. Hamblin and Jevne had the assists.
Medicine Hat made it 3-1 when Ryan Chyzowski scored at 4:51 of the third period on assists from Jevne and Linus Nassen.
Seattle then scored two goals in 2:57 to tie the game 3-3.
Jake Lee held the puck just inside the offensive zone when he spotted Sean Richards skating down the slot. Lee hit Richards with a pass and Richards put a shot on net. Richards got his own rebound, shot again and Kukuca tipped it through Hollett’s legs at 10:18 for his second goal of the night.
Lee took a wrist shot with Noah Philp in the high slot and Kukuca screening Hollett. Philp tipped Lee’s shot and then the puck may have deflected off Kukuca’s skate and past Hollett at 13:15 of the third. The goal was credited to Kukuca on the ice but could be changed to Philp upon video review.
Seattle goalie Roddy Ross made 27 saves, improving his record to 8-3-0-1. Hollett had 36 saves, and his record is 14-14-1-0.
The T-Birds host the Tri-City Americans at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.
Tickets are on sale on the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare box office.
Fans who purchase the 24-flex ticket package will be able to select any available premium seat for any game, in any ticket combination, during the 2018-19 season.
First period – 1, Medicine Hat, Hamblin 30 (Jevne, Nassen), 8:15 (pp). Penalties – Brown, MH (elbowing), 2:06. Richards, Sea (high-sticking), 7:38. Savey, Sea (charging), 8:58.
Second period – 2, Seattle, Kukuca 18 (Carpendale, Wedman), 11:58. 3, Medicine Hat, Preziuso 19 (Hamblin, Jevne), 18:18. Penalties – Wedman, Sea (slashing), 7:29. Wedman, Sea (tripping), 12:30.
Third period – 4, Medicine Hat, Chyzowski 19 (Jevne, Nassen), 3:54. 5, Seattle, Kukuca 17 (Richards, Lee), 10:18. 6, Seattle, Kukuca 18 (Philp, Lee), 13:15. Penalties – Rybinski, Sea (roughing), 3;54. Clayton, MH (roughing), 3:54.
Overtime – 7, Seattle, Wedman 27 (Kukuca, Philp), 3:18. Penalties – No penalties.
Shots on goal – Seattle 14-8-15-3 40, Medicine Hat 11-10-8-1 30. Goalies – Seattle, Ross 30 shots-27 saves (8-3-0-1); Medicine Hat, Hollett 40-36 (14-14-1-0). Power plays – Seattle 0-1, Medicine Hat 1-4. A – 4,053. Referees – Brayden Arcand, Jeff Ingram. Linesmen – Mark Heier, Justin Nicol.