(Kennewick, WA) Matthew Wedman was playing in his first preseason action on Friday afternoon at the Red Lion Tournament. He made it a debut to remember with a hat-trick and the shoot out marker that finished off the Spokane Chiefs 7-6. Wedman has shown flashes of brilliance in a limited role behind Seattle centers Mathew Barzal, Scott Eansor and Alexander True, but will be getting the chance at more ice time this year. He made an extremely strong argument for that time Friday as he was all over the ice and a threat to score every time he held the puck in the Spokane zone. Wedman was not the only one to net a hat-trick in the game as Spokane’s Taylor Ross had one of his own. Zack Andrusiak also scored for Seattle in the shoot out.
Special teams was a key in the game as the Thunderbirds went 2/8 on the man advantage, while giving up a shorthanded marker and the Chiefs went 3/4.
Both goalies were busy as Seattle’s Matt Berlin stopped 32 of 38 shots and both Spokane shootout attempts and Spokane’s Donovan Buskey turned away 24 of 30 attempts on net.
The two teams would trade goals in the first period with all of them coming on special teams. The two teams combined for 20 penalty minutes and two game misconducts in the frame so there were plenty of opportunities to be had. After the Chiefs took a too-many-men penalty early in the first period, Zack Andrusiak made them pay with his second of the preseason. The initial Seattle shot from Reece Harsch and the follow-up from Dillon Hamaliuk were both stopped by Spokane goalie Donovan Buskey. However, Andrusiak found the rebound at the goalie’s left post and banged it home. Spokane tied things at one on a power play goal of their own. Taylor Ross could be heard calling for the puck throughout Toyota Center and he made good on his confident claim as he wired a wrist shot past Seattle goalie Matt Berlin.
Ross made it two goals on special teams as he and Eli Zummack created a Seattle turnover at center-ice and burst in on a two-on-one. Zummack’s saucer pass found Ross and the latter buried it for the shorthanded goal. Seattle’s retort would not be as pretty as Spokane’s second goal, but it would count the same and tie the game up regardless. Matthew Wedman tracked down the rebound of a shot from Jake Lee in the middle of heavy traffic near Buskey and backhanded it slowly past the out-of-position netminder. Things went to the second all tied up at two.
Spokane would again seize the advantage in the seesaw battle. And wouldn’t you know, it was on the power play. 17-year-old forward Cedric Chenier was the last to touch and odd, bouncing puck, before it found its way past Berlin and into the net. Not to be outdone, Seattle tied the game up again, this time at three. Donovan Neuls was holding the puck at the right point when he saw recent acquisition: Blake Bargar all alone at the back post, waving his stick. Neuls smartly wired a pass over to Bargar and the former Victoria Royal went down to one knee to get the leverage necessary to put the puck top shelf and past Buskey. The Thunderbirds would add another goal and take their first lead since the early going of the first period, thanks to Wedman’s second of the game. Rushing up the ice, the 18-year-old center looked over to his right enough to get Buskey to float over that way a bit. He then picked the post to the Spokane goalie’s opposite side. The goal came on the man advantage.
Taylor Ross would be first to the hat-trick as he tied the game again just 39 seconds into the third period. He found a loose puck sitting in front of Berlin and poked it into the Seattle net. Seattle’s third lead of the game came courtesy 16-year-old forward Graeme Bryks. The rookie pulled a similar move to Wedman, in looking off Buskey, before wiring a hard wrist shot inside the near post. The T-birds then took the game’s first two-goal lead as Wedman finished off his hat trick. He cut to the middle and flipped a shot towards the net and past Buskey, while getting check to the ice. He paid the price all game as was evident in his goal from one of the tough areas on the ice.
Spokane was not done though as Rykr Cole poked home a rebound to cut the lead to one before Milos Fafrak evened things up with 1:52 left in regulation. Fafrak was Spokane’s selection in the recent CHL Import Draft.
After both teams had good looks in the overtime period, we went to a shoot out. Andrusuak cut right and went backhand, top shelf on Buskey, before Wedman finished his strong day with a cut to the left and a shot blocker-side past Buskey. This gave the T-birds the 7-6 (SO) win.
Seattle gets things going again at the tournament at 11am PST vs. Kootenay while Spokane takes on Portland at 3pm PST.