(Kennewick, WA) The Seattle Thunderbirds scored five goals in the first 13 minutes against the Portland Winterhawks in route to a 8-3 victory.
Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette credited Blake Lyda for his team’s strong first period, “I thought our goalie came out to play right away and think he had to make some big saves there early.”
Two early penalties on Winterhawks defensemen led to a five-on-three for Seattle.
Andrej Kukuca one timed a Payton Mount pass for the game’s opening goal.
Conner Bruggen-Cate shortly thereafter found a loose puck near the crease to give the Thunderbirds a 2-0 lead.
“I thought we were just opportunistic on the power play and capitalized on our chances. I thought our five-on-five could have been much better.” O’Dette commented.
Brendan Williamson and Michael Horon scored within four minutes of each other to give the Thunderbirds a 4-0 lead 11:29 into the game.
After Horon’s goal Lochlan Gordon entered the game for Portland.
Lucas Ciona netted his third of the preseason less than two minutes later. Giannuzzi returned for the start of the second period.
Portland started the second period on the power play, and 19-year-old forward Mason Mannek tipped a Matthew Quigley shot by Blake Lyda for the Winterhawks first goal of the game.
Payton Mount matched Mannek’s tip 6:49 into the middle frame.
As of Friday afternoon, Mount is tied for the league lead in preseason points. O’Dette talked about the 17-year-old forward’s progression, “He is going into his second year. We are going to rely upon him to take a big step for us just like all our returning guys. He is a guy who has always produced amongst his age group. I think just like any young player, when they get a little bit more comfortable in this league you start to see some development and progress.”
The Winterhawks did not quit on the game as Lane Gilliss and Jaydon Dureau each found the back of the net for their third goal of the preseason.
Simon Kubicek joined in on the goal scoring as his wrist shot on a five-on-three power play got through the net-front traffic.
Horon’s second goal of the game also came via a Thunderbirds power play as Seattle scored their fourth power-play game.
“We were able to work on it some this week.” O’Dette mentioned. “It has been clicking all preseason. It is one of those things in preseason you get a lot of power play opportunities as there are a lot of penalties. Most teams don’t get a lot of time to work on it. We have hit it for maybe one practice, so it is nice to see the power play cash in.”
With one game to play in the preseason, the Thunderbirds power play has converted on 38.7% of their opportunities.
Seattle has one more preseason game before they begin the regular season, and O’Dette talked about what is next for his team, “We still have some bodies, and I think with injuries our numbers have gone down; we will have to take a look at that. We are always evaluating, and it is one last chance and one final push for guys to state their case to be on the hockey team.”
Portland’s preseason is over and now has two weeks before they open the regular season at home in two weeks against the Tri-City Americans.