PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. –The Seattle Thunderbirds scored twice in the third period and held off the Prince Albert Raiders, 3-2, Friday at the Art Hauser Centre. The win puts Seattle at 30-6-1-1 on the season. Their thirty wins and 62 points is currently the most in the WHL. The Thunderbirds final game of their six-game road trip is Saturday as they travel to Saskatoon to face the Blades.
The game was tied 1-1 after forty minutes before a Brad Lambert goal 79-seconds into the final period put the Thunderbirds up for good. The goal was the first with Seattle for Lambert, who was assigned to the team by the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets earlier in the week. He had played the first half of the season with the Jets AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, appearing in fourteen games.
Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette was impressed by his newest roster edition. “He had some great shifts for us, lots of scoring chances. His speed and the way he can get up and down the ice, he’s got tremendous vision and finds guys with his playmaking ability.”
For his part, Lambert felt he got off to a good start with his new team, leading up to his go-ahead goal. “The first period was really good; we were moving the puck around. The second period, we slowed down a bit, were pacing ourselves a bit too much. The third period I think we got back to it, got the puck around and had a lot of chances and got the win, which is great.”
Lambert said the goal was set up nicely by Kyle Crnkovic. “Great play from Crank there, really smart player. I just tried to get myself open and he found me and I just ripped it.” Sawyer Mynio had the second assist.
After a scoreless first period, the teams traded goals in period two. Seattle struck first as Crnkovic followed up his own shot and banged home the rebound at 2:07. Gracyn Sawchyn earned the lone assist. Prince Albert equalized on a power play goal at 8:47 from Niall Crocker.
After Lambert gave the Thunderbirds the lead, Jordan Gustafson made it 3-1 Seattle with his 16th of the season at 10:12 with an assist to Nico Myatovic. “Nico fed the puck to me from down low and I shot it then got the rebound. Coaches were saying shoot the puck all night, so I did what they told me to do, so I shot the puck, and it worked out.”
It’s the second straight game those two teamed up for a game winning goal. Wednesday, Myatovic scored the game winner against Winnipeg in overtime with Gustafson assisting. Prince Albert did get within a goal late, with Sloan Stanick scoring at 18:21 after pulling the goalie for the extra skater.
Seattle did lose Reid Schaefer in the second period, after he collided with a teammate. He didn’t return. O’Dette said he didn’t have an update on his status, and they were waiting for him to be evaluated.
After Saturday’s game in Saskatoon the Thunderbirds head home. Their first home game since New Year’s Eve is January 20th versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Seattle played the game without Lucas Ciona in the lineup. Ciona was assessed a two-game suspension after he received a major penalty for charging Wednesday in Winnipeg. He will miss Saturday’s game in Saskatoon as well.
Thunderbirds defenseman Nolan Allan played his first game at the Art Hauser Center since Seattle acquired him from Prince Albert in a trade back on November 16th.
Three former Thunderbirds were in the lineup for Prince Albert. Gabe Ludwig, Easton Kovacs and Brayden Dube were part of the trade that brought Allan to Seattle.
Box score: WHL Network