And one more makes six . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds, facing elimination for the sixth time in these playoffs, got past the host Edmonton Oil Kings, 3-2, on Saturday night. The Oil Kings lead the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 3-2.
The Thunderbirds will face elimination for a seventh time on Monday when the teams meet for Game 6 in Edmonton. The Thunderbirds will be designated as the home team, so will have the last change. Seattle’s home arena in Kent, Wash., has been unavailable because of graduation ceremonies, so the series is following a 2-2-3 format with the last three games to be played in Edmonton. A seventh game, if needed, would be played there on Tuesday night.
The series winner will advance to the four-team Memorial Cup tournament that is to be played in Saint John, N.B., June 20-29.
The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed, overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks, then trailed the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, 3-2, before winning that series. In the process, Seattle became the only team in WHL history to win two Game 7s on the road in the same postseason.
In other words, these Thunderbirds are quite familiar with being in this position.
Last night, the Thunderbirds erased a 1-0 first-period deficit — F Josh Williams (4) scored for Edmonton at 6:25 — with the game’s next three goals.
F Conner Roulette (5) tied the score at 2:13 of the second period and F Matt Rempe (8) gave the Thunderbirds the lead, on a PP, at 8:51. F Lucas Ciona (9) upped the lead to 3-1 at 2:21 of the third period.
F Carson Golden (3) pulled the Oil Kings to within a goal at 9:14 of the third period, but that’s as close as the home team could get.
Both goaltenders were terrific, with Seattle’s Thomas Milic finishing with 28 saves, three fewer than Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa.
Seattle was 1-for-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-for-6.
The Oil Kings scratched F Dylan Guenther, who last played in Game 3. He didn’t finish that one due to an undisclosed injury. . . . Seattle D Tyrel Bauer, the team captain, sat out the first game of a two-game suspension. He was suspended for a first-period hit on F Brendan Kuny in Game 3. Kuny isn’t likely to play again in the series. . . . The Thunderbirds had F Henrik Rybinski back in their lineup. He hadn’t played since Game 1.
In the QMJHL, the Shawinigan Cataractes won their first Presidents Cup on Saturday, beating the host Charlottetown Islanders, 4-3 in OT. . . . Shawinigan won the best-of-seven final, 4-1. . . . The Islanders led 3-1 before the second period was six minutes old, but Shawinigan came back to score the game’s last three goals. . . . F Olivier Nadeau made it 3-2 on a PP at 12:50 of the second period. . . . F Pierrick Dubé scored the game’s last two goals, tying the score at 10:38 of the third period and winning it just 41 seconds into OT. . . . Dubé scored 12 goals in the playoffs. . . .
The OHL’s championship final will continue today (Sunday) with the host Hamilton Bulldogs entertaining the Windsor Spitfires. The series is tied, 2-2. Game 6 is to be played in Windsor on Monday.
THE COACHING GAME: Evan McFeeters has signed on as the new head coach of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. He joins the Crusaders after two seasons as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, who won the Centennial Cup as junior A champions last month in Estevan, Sask. Before joining the Bandits, McFeeters spent five seasons with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles as assistant general manager and assistant coach. In Sherwood Park, he replaces Jeff Woywitka, who was fired as head coach and assistant GM in April. Woywitka had taken over for the fired Adam Manah in November.
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