Young Guns Propel T-Birds Past Royals
KENT, Wash. –Rookies Brayden Holberton and Nishaan Parmar each scored their first goals in the Western Hockey League and the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Victoria Royals, 5-3, Sunday at the accesso ShoWare Center. Spencer Michnik, another rookie, made 30 saves to earn the win in net. The T-Birds return to action Wednesday when they travel north to Kamloops to play the Blazers at the Sandman Centre.
With the win the injury depleted Thunderbirds took two of three on the weekend and four of seven over the last ten days. “A grind to say the least,” said head coach Matt O’Dette. “It was not an easy schedule. Just really proud of the guys finishing it off this weekend. That was a gutsy performance tonight. It took every guy digging deep to contribute to the win.”
Seattle would score the games first three goals. Sam Popowich, back from injury and playing his 200th Thunderbirds game, scored first at 8:44 of the first period. “Obviously, it was a little bit longer than I wanted it to be,” said the veteran Thunderbird of finally playing in game 200. “It means a lot. I got drafted here when I was 15 years old and I’ve kind of grown up here. It’s definitely a home away from home. It’s a place I’ll love coming back to forever.”
Sawyer Mynio doubled Seattle’s lead with a power play goal at 14:39. Parmar stretched the lead to 3-0 with his first WHL goal at 11:57 of period two.
“It was a great play from the rest of the line there,” remarked Parmar of his first goal as a T-Bird. “We had a great shift and it felt really good. Getting the first one, hopefully it just gets that off my back. It gets the pressure off and hopefully, just keep going forward.”
The Royals fought back to tie it at 3-3. They scored a second period power play goal, struck even strength at 7:43 of the third and drew even with another power play goal at 11:50 of period three. Seattle took the lead back for good just 74-seconds later when Holberton sniped home his first goal at 13:04.
“It was just good battles by all our teammates,” said Holberton of his game winner. “Just threw it on net, and hoped it went in. Just got a lot of pressure off my chest. That’s great to get a first goal.”
Another rookie, Antonio Martorana, sealed the win, scoring his team-leading 14th of the season into the empty net in the final second.
Seattle was down to just five healthy defensemen with Kaleb Hartmann serving a one game suspension and Ashton Cumby and Hyde Davidson out with injury. As a result, Nico Myatovic, normally a forward, was used on the back end. O’Dette said Myatovic gave them what they asked of him.
“He did a great job, but not surprising. He’s such a smart player. You don’t really have to go over the systems, he just knows them already. Heck of a job by him and all the D tonight.”
Forwards Simon Lovsin and Coster Dunn also missed the game with injuries as Seattle played with only sixteen players available.
The Thunderbirds finished off a stretch of seven games in ten days, playing the top five teams in the Western Conference, and finished 4-3-0-0. It was also the T-Birds third straight weekend of playing three games in three nights and they went 5-4-0-0.
The Thunderbirds win the five game regular season series against the Royals, 3-2.