Thunderbirds Prevail Late in Battle of the Sound
Dec 28, 2022 – Western Hockey League (WHL) – Seattle Thunderbirds News
SEATTLE, Wash. – Lucas Ciona scored a late power-play goal and the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Spokane Chiefs, 7-5, on Tuesday at Climate Pledge Arena in the second annual Battle of the Sound. With the win, Seattle improved to 24-4-1-1 and moved into first place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of empty-handed Portland. The Thunderbirds and Chiefs now travel to Spokane for a rematch on Wednesday at Spokane Arena.
Thunderbirds coach Matt O’Dette said they were a little rusty from the Christmas break. “A lot of our habits and details weren’t there tonight. We weren’t as sharp or picking up where we left off. We’re glad we got the win though and we bowed out in the third to do it.”
Both teams combined for six goals in the first half. Seattle struck first when Nico Myatovic redirected a Ciona shot from the point at the 3:20 mark. However, Spokane would respond by scoring three goals in two minutes, taking a 3-1 lead.
The Thunderbirds answered with two of their own to create a 3-3 tie. Gracyn Sawchyn scored the first of two goals on the night at 18:56. Seattle got back on top early in the second period when Ciona scored at 4:34, finishing a 2-on-1 with Jordan Gustafson. Once again, the Chiefs responded, scoring twice to take a 5-4 lead into the third period.
“There’s a lot to fix,” commented O’Dette. “We’ll take that down to a rustle coming out of the break. We weren’t happy with the first 40 minutes, but we managed to keep the game within striking distance.”
It remained a one-goal game until midway through the third period, when Seattle struck for the second time on the power play. Sawchyn got his second of the game when he tipped home a shot from Davidson at 9:51. This set up Ciona’s late game heroics.
A hard shift by Seattle’s third line drew a penalty for Spokane. Back on the power play, Sawchyn made a strong move to the front of the net and fed an errant pass to Ciona, who slid home the game-winner. “Not our best game,” the Calgary Flames prospect said. “Coming back from quite a long Christmas break, it was good to get the boots moving again. We got a good win and it was a lot of fun.”
Coach Matt O’Dette liked what he saw from his power play, which finished the night three of five. “You get rewarded by simplifying a little bit, playing straight and putting pucks in the net. That’s what we started doing and it paid off.”
After the game in Spokane, Seattle stays on the road. They travel to Kelowna to play the Rockets on Friday before returning home to the Accesso ShoWare Center on New Year’s Eve to host the Rockets at 6:05 p.m.
Seattle is 6-0-0-1 since Nolan Allan, Kevin Korchinski, Reid Schaefer and Thomas Milic left to play for Canada in the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.
With two assists, Kyle Crnkovic extended his point streak to fourteen games.
Seattle’s first goal came on their first shot of the game. It was the third straight game in which they scored on their opening kickoff.
Jeremy Hanzel finished the night with three assists.
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