Thunderbirds claim second WHL title

The Seattle Thunderbirds have booked their spot at the 2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia as WHL Champions after a Game 5 win over Winnipeg.

A 3-1 win Friday earned Seattle its second Ed Chynoweth Cup in franchise history and comes six years after their first.

The victory also ensures that the T-Birds will compete for a Memorial Cup for the third time after previous appearances in 1992 and 2017.

Sam Popowich, Nico Myatovic and Kyle Crnkovic all scored for Seattle in Game 5 while Thomas Milic made 30 saves.

Milic was named WHL Playoffs MVP after he went 16-3-0 in 19 starts with a 1.95 GAA and .933 save percentage, each of which rank the fourth best in the CHL. Offensively, Dylan Guenther (ARI) led the way with 28 points while his 16 postseason goals lead the CHL. Brad Lambert’s 20 assists are tied second in the CHL while Jared Davidson (MTL) and Jeremy Hanzel each surpassed the 20-point mark in the playoffs.

Seattle breezed through the first two rounds of the WHL Playoffs presented by Nutrien after four-game sweeps of Kelowna and Prince George. In the Western Conference Finals, the T-Birds took out 2023 Memorial Cup hosts Kamloops in six games for the second straight year as they scored 26 goals in the series with all but one skater recording at least one point.

After they dropped Game 1 against Winnipeg, the Thunderbirds levelled its WHL Championship Series with a 4-2 win as they headed back to the Pacific Northwest. A 6-3 win in Game 3 was followed by a 4-2 victory before the T-Birds closed out the series Friday night on home ice after a trio of wins at the accesso ShoWare Center.

With a CHL high 10 NHL prospects on their roster, the T-Birds, unsurprisingly, recorded a franchise best 54 wins in the regular season.

General manager Bill LaForge already had a lineup that featured captain Lucas Ciona (CGY), Jared Davidson (MTL) and Reid Schaefer (NSH), among others, but he went out and added high-end talent throughout the season in Nolan Allan (CHI), Colton Dach (CHI), Dylan Guenther (ARI), Brad Lambert (WPG) and Luke Prokop (NSH).

After they helped guide Edmonton to the title a year ago, Guenther and Prokop are now back-to-back WHL Champions and are the only two players on Seattle’s roster to have previously played in a Memorial Cup.

Seattle will open its campaign May 27 against either London or Peterborough before a May 29 tilt against the QMJHL winners. They will conclude the round-robin with an all-WHL matchup against Kamloops on May 31.

All 2023 Memorial Cup games will be broadcasted in Canada on TSN and RDS. Games will also be available in the United States on the NHL Network and for subscribers of CHL TV outside of North America. A very limited supply of tickets for the 2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia, including for single games of the tournament, are available for purchase here.

2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia Schedule:

May 26 – Game 1: Kamloops vs. QMJHL — 6p.m. PT
May 27 – Game 2: OHL vs. Seattle — 3p.m. PT
May 28 – Game 3: OHL vs. Kamloops — 3p.m. PT
May 29 – Game 4: QMJHL vs. Seattle — 6p.m. PT
May 30 – Game 5: QMJHL vs. Peterborough — 6p.m. PT
May 31 – Game 6: Seattle vs. Kamloops — 6p.m. PT
June 1 – Tie-Breaker, if necessary, — 6p.m. PT
June 2 – Semi-final — 6p.m. PT
June 4 – Final — 4p.m. PT

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