T-Birds Shoot Past Victoria
VICTORIA, B.C. –Jordan Gustafson scored once in regulation and again in the shootout as the Seattle Thunderbirds slipped past the Victoria Royals, 3-2, Friday at Save on Foods Memorial Centre. The T-Birds now return home for two games this weekend at the accesso ShoWare Center. Saturday, they host Portland at 6:05 p.m. and then Victoria is in town Sunday at 5:05 p.m.
“It was good to open up the weekend with the win,” said Gustafson, a Vegas Golden Knights prospect. “Obviously wins are very important at this time of the season, and hopefully we can get some momentum and get rolling throughout the weekend.”
Seattle (17-25-2-0) surrendered the game’s first goal when Victoria scored at 5:33 of the first period with Tanner Scott lighting the lamp. The Thunderbirds answered at 14:03 with Gustafson’s third of the season.
“I thought it was a little sleepy of a start,” commented head coach Matt O’Dette. “But we started to get into a groove and play better as the first period went on.”
After a scoreless second period, the T-Birds grabbed their first lead with a Jeremy Hanzel power play goal 62-seconds into period three. “Hanzy with the big power play goal,” said O’Dette of his veteran defenseman’s blast. “When you grind it out and battle for the team, you get rewarded.”
The lead held until Seattle was assessed two penalties in the final two and a half minutes of the game, giving the Royals a two-man advantage. They promptly pulled their goalie to skate 6-on-3 and Tyson Laventure tied the game with just under a minute remaining.
The T-Birds still had work to do, killing off the 5-on-4 Victoria power play that carried into overtime. After neither team scored in the extra period, Gustafson was the only one of six shooters to find the back of the net in the shootout, giving Seattle the win.
“Gussy wasn’t feeling his best tonight, but he battled through it,” explained O’Dette. “He was there for us, not only to score in the game, but finish it off in the shootout.”
The win, coupled with Spokane’s victory in Everett, keeps Seattle four points back of the final playoff position in the Western Conference.
Defenseman Bryce Pickford played in his 100th WHL game Friday, earning an assist on Seattle’s first goal. “Playing one-hundred games with the T-Birds, staying with them the whole time, it’s unreal and the boys gave me a couple snaps in the room, and we went out there and we did our job.”
Once again four players were out of the lineup for Seattle as Sam Popowich, Coster Dunn, Simon Lovsin and Hyde Davidson continue to nurse upper body injuries.
The T-Birds split their two road games in Victoria this season, losing 3-2 back on November 10th before winning last night’s game.