KAMLOOPS, BC – A goal just under six minutes into overtime pushed the Kamloops Blazers past the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game Five of the WHL Western Conference Championship Series at the Sandman Center Friday. The win gives Kamloops a 3-2 lead in the best of seven series. Game Six is set for Sunday at 5:05 pm at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent.
T-birds head coach Matt O’Dette liked his team effort except for some defensive zone issues. “Generally, we played a pretty good game,” he said. “Maybe a couple too many lapses defensively. I thought we deserved a better fate. We didn’t necessarily get the bounces, or the calls and we ended up on the wrong side of it tonight.”
For the first time in the Seattle series opened the scoring. Conner Roulette snapped in his third of the postseason at 1:51 of the opening period with Henrik Rybinski earning the lone assist. The T-birds had a chance to add to the lead but couldn’t convert on their only power play chance of the night just five minutes later, despite some good looks.
“I think our one power play, we worked the puck around really well,” commented O’Dette. “We had some opportunities at the net and a few shots that missed.”
The Blazers then knotted the game at 1-1 on a Matthew Seminoff goal at 6:44.
The Thunderbirds regained the lead early in the second period. Lukas Svejkovsky popped home his eighth of the playoffs, batting home a rebound of a Jeremy Hanzel shot. Roulette had the second assist. Seattle then got hemmed in their own zone by the Kamloops forecheck and the Blazers were able to tie things up again at 2-2 six minutes later, as Daylan Kuefler’s scored the first of his two goals on the night.
Kamloops grabbed their first lead five minutes into the third period. Conner Levis batted a puck out of the air with a high stick, but because it deflected off a T-birds stick and into the net, the goal was allowed to stand after a lengthy review.
The T-birds shook that one off and got the game back to even when Kevin Korchinski too a pass from Jared Davidson, skated into the slot, and snapped home his sixth playoff goal at 10:27.
That sent the game to overtime where Kuefler knocked home a rebound at 5:39 for the game winner.
Seattle has been able to shut down the Blazers top two scoring threats, Logan Stankoven and Luke Toporowski, the last two games. They’ve limited them to just two Stankoven assists. But O’Dette says, like the T-birds, the Blazers have three good scoring lines. “Their depth scoring came through for them. It’s a little tougher on the road for us to get the matchups we want. They have multiple threats, and we have to deal with that, just as they have to deal with our scoring depth.”
Tickets for Game Six Sunday are on sale at seattlethunderbirds.com
Rybinski returned to the lineup after missing the last three games. Svejkovsky was back as well after he missed Game Four.
Seattle has been awarded just two power plays in the last two games, something that doesn’t sit well with O’Dette. “We cannot get a call. I can’t figure it out. One or two power plays a game, that’s all we get. There was a hook of Svejkovsky with two minutes left in the game. That’s a pretty big moment late in the game and we don’t get the call.”
Korchinski, who has just four goals in 67 games during the regular season, now has six in 17 playoff games.
Full box score: WHL Network