With all the proven scoring the outgoing forwards from last year’s WHL champions took with them, the Seattle Thunderbirds needed some rookies to step up this year. Two such rookies have done just that recently. 2000-born left wings Tyler Carpendale and Dillon Hamaliuk each scored for Seattle as they took down the visiting Saskatoon Blades 4-1 behind a dominant second period.
Carpendale now has three goals and an assist in his last four games, while Hamaliuk has three goals in that same span.
Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette has liked Carpendale’s game as of late. “He’s coming around. He’s a big guy that can skate. You get rewarded when you drive the net and that is what he did there tonight.”
The real story of the night, though was the Seattle defense that held the Blades to just six shots over 30 minutes of hockey in the second and third period.
O’Dette lauded his team’s response to the tough loss they endured on Saturday to Kamloops. “The effort was good. I thought we played fine in the first but the second period was our period. We were really coming on them in waves and played our style. We hemmed them in their zone for lengthy periods of times with our work ethic and staying tenacious on pucks and forcing turnovers. That’s what we have to do to be successful,” O’Dette said.
With Austin Strand and Aaron Hyman out with injuries, O’Dette leaned heavily on team captain Turner Ottenbreit. “He rose to the challenge. With those d out, he took it upon himself to raise his game. With the match up there with (Cameron) Hebig and (Braylon) Shmyr-two dangerous players, He took it upon himself to shut those guys down and he did a great job.”
The game was not without some tension in the third. “They threw the kitchen sink at us at the end there but Berles (Matt Berlin) stood tall. He made some huge saves at the end there when they had their goalie out.”
O’Dette’s netminder got the 4003 fans to their feet late in the third period, with two spectacular saves while on his stomach. He turned away 26 of 27 overall.
The Blades controlled a lot of the early play but it would be the Thunderbirds who would get the game’s first goal off a defensive breakdown. Blake Bargar found the puck in the neutral zone and raced in on a two-on-one with Tyler Carpendale. he fired a saucer pass over to Carpendale who beat Saskatoon goalie Nolan Maier for his third goal of the year.
Saskatoon would respond just over four minutes later. Kirby Dach won several puck battles in the Seattle corner boards area and sent the puck out to defenseman Seth Bafaro in the slot. Bafaro used a good screen of goalie Matt Berlin to beat the netminder for his second goal of the year.
The Thunderbirds trailed in the shot on goal area of the score sheet 10-6 after one, but they would flip that around with one of their better periods of late in the second. They out shot the Blades 17-3 in the middle frame and scored to take their second lead.
Sami Moilanen, parked himself in front of Maier and after redirecting a shot from Turner Ottenbreit on net, he appeared to deflect it in off his leg. The goal was immediately waved off, but after video review it was allowed. It appears, via the video replay, that Moilanen kicked the puck in outside of the crease, which is a legal play.
The T-birds had many chances to add to their lead, but Maier stood tall. This was especially true on a chance from Ottenbreit that he snared late in the frame with his glove.
Seattle would finally add to their lead just 1:25 into the third as Dillon Hamaliuk found a loos puck off to Maier’s right and swiftly fired a shot on net. Maier could not track it and it hit the twine behind him. The goal was Hamaliuk’s fifth of the year and his second in as many games.
Bargar finished off the scoring with an empty netter at the buzzer.
Maier was solid for the Blades, stopping 31 of 34.
The Blades finish their U.S. trip with a 2-3 record. They will host the Kamloops Blazers their next time on the ice.
Seattle will host the TRi-City Americans on Friday.
Cade McNelly was back with the Thunderbirds after being reassigned just last week. The injuries to Hyman and Strand made it necessary for him to be back in the fold.