KENT, Wash. –The Seattle Thunderbirds fell into an early three goal hole they could not climb out from and dropped a, 6-3, decision to the Kamloops Blazers in Game Three of the WHL Western Conference Championship Series Tuesday at the accesso ShoWare Center. Kamloops now leads the series two games to one. Game Four of the best of seven matchup is slated for Wednesday back in Kent. Game time is 7:05 pm
It took the Blazer all of 27-seconds to open the scoring, as Drew Englot won a puck battle behind the T-birds net and spotted Logan Stankoven all alone in front of the Seattle net. Stankoven, the leading goal scorer in the postseason, ripped home the first of his three on the night.
“The start wasn’t good,” said T-birds head coach Matt O’Dette. “Can’t give up a goal first shift. Obviously, a defensive zone breakdown. Leaving their best player open in the slot is not ideal.”
The T-birds got the game’s first power play but failed to score. Then The Blazers got their first power play opportunity and made it 2-0 on a Daylan Kuefler tip of a Quinn Schmiemann point shot. It went from bad to worse when Stankoven poked home a rebound just 18 seconds later.
“We have to come out more efficiently,” explained O’Dette. “We have to settle into our game plan, get into our groove but by the time we did that, it was already three-nothing.”
The Thunderbirds fought back. Kevin Korchinski scored at 18:38 of the first period, assisted by Tyrel Bauer and Lukas Svejkovsky. Then at 13:25 of period two, Seattle got within a goal, at 3-2, thanks to Jared Davidson putting back a rebound of a Nico Myatovic backhander. Bauer picked up his second assist.
But late in the second the T-birds failed to clear the defensive zone and Schmeimann’s shot from the left point hit a Seattle stick and caromed past T-birds goalie Thomas Milic into the back of the net, re-establishing Kamloops’s two goal lead.
“The margin for error, after you fall behind by three, is small,” said O’Dette. “They got a good bounce with their fourth goal off one of our sticks. It was a momentum changer. We had all the momentum, pressing for the tying goal but gave up that one.”
Seattle didn’t get a shot on goal in the third period until after the ten-minute mark. Kamloops then added to their lead at 13:16 with Kuefler’s second of the game. The T-birds climbed back within two when Matt Rempe banked home his fifth goal of the postseason on a T-birds power play at 16:13. The T-birds pulled their goalie late in hopes of closing the gap but Stankoven scored into the empty net at 18:45 to erase any hope of a late comeback.
“I thought in the third, we didn’t come out with enough urgency,” O’Dette lamented. “We didn’t get a shot until well into the period. We turned it up from there and made a good push but you need to play sixty minutes.”
O’Dette returned to the Seattle bench after missing the first two games in Kamloops due to illness.
Seattle played a second straight game without their top center, Henrik Rybinski (undisclosed reason).
Reid Schaefer’s assist on Seattle’s third goal, gives him a seven-game scoring streak (4g, 7a). Earlier in the day Schaefer was named the WHL Player of the Week.
A T-birds win in either Game Four Wednesday or Game Five Friday in Kamloops, will guarantee a Game Six Sunday at the accesso ShoWare Center.
Full box score: WHL Network