The Seattle Thunderbirds evened their series with the Vancouver Giants up with a 4-1 win on Saturday to make it a best-of-five. Now the teams head down the I-5 for Games 3 and 4.
The Thunderbirds got off to a quick start, with overage forward Sean Richards giving Seattle their first lead of the series, roofing it from a tight angle over Trent Miner’s blocker shoulder to put the visiting team up 1-0 within the first five minutes of Game 2.
About 10 minutes later, Seattle extended their lead to two goals on the power play with Tristen Nielsen in the box for Delay of Game for clearing the puck over the glass. The goal came from import defenceman Simon Kubicek with a point shot that found its way through traffic to make it 2-0 Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds fans who made the drive up made themselves heard throughout the night, with numerous “Let’s Go Birds” chants, that at times outcheered Giants fans.
Seattle fans after goal puts Tbirds up 2-0 pic.twitter.com/bqLABqhZkz
— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) March 24, 2019
“They’re really loud fans, especially being here in Langley, we know going down to Seattle it’s going to be 10 times that. It’s exciting to play in games like that, now that they have the home ice in their favour, it’s something we need to get motivated for.” Giants captain Jared Dmytriw said about Seattle’s fan presence in their building.
The Giants answered back with a power play goal of their own. the marker came from Jadon Joseph, who potted his second goal of the playoffs to cut the lead in half. The goal ended up being all that Vancouver could get past Roddy Ross, who put up a 39 save performance 24 hours after getting pulled after six goals on 31 shots in Game 1.
Vancouver looked to have their feet under them for the start of the second with a couple of quick scoring chances off the hop but to no avail, including a power play with about six minutes left that was full of opportunities.
The scoreless second period was where the physical play and bad blood seemed to start playing a role in the series, with the game being much closer than the night before. Almost every whistle was followed by some sort of scuffle or chirping at one another. Playoff hockey. 2-1 Seattle after 40.
About four and a half minutes into the final frame, Seattle got their insurance goal off the stick of import Andrej Kukuca, his second of the playoffs, who came in off the right wing and snapped it past Miner’s blocker.
Throughout the third period, Vancouver had a hard time getting things to click. Passes were off, shots were missing the net which fans in Langley have not been accustomed to seeing this season.
The Giants managed to put up 40 shots, though not many were quality chances or enough to really make the rookie, Ross, work for the saves.
“There were 40 shots but there was some on the perimeter, we didn’t get to the net nearly enough,” said coach Michael Dyck about the potentially misleading shot total.
Dmytriw echoed what Dyck said about their shot quality. “A lot of our shots were from the perimeter and he’s (Ross) is a good goalie, he’s going to stop what he sees. We have to stop playing the perimeter and get to the dirty areas.”
Thunderbirds captain Nolan Volcan put the game away with an empty-netter with two minutes left to make it 4-1 and sent the visiting Thunderbirds fans into a bigger frenzy, knowing their team stole home ice advantage from the Western Conference champions.
Dyck also credited Seattle for their pushback, also referring to the playoff experience Seattle has over his Giants team.“Maybe that’s where the experience comes in, they stepped up and played hard and took advantage of their opportunities.”
The teams continue battle on Tuesday and Wednesday in Kent, Washington where the Giants won both games this season.
- The Giants were without rookie sensation Justin Sourdif for Game 2 as a result of the crosscheck he took at the end of Game 1 from Jake Lee who was suspended for the play. Coach Dyck said X-Rays were positive but couldn’t give an update on his status for Game 3. 17-year-old Aidan Barfoot drew into the lineup as a result.
- As previously mentioned, the Giants were 2-0-0-0 at the Accesso ShoWare Center this season, outscoring Seattle 9-3 in those games.
- The Giants are 8/9 on the Penalty Kill this series, good for 88.9%, as well as 3/11 on the man advantage (27.3%).