WINNIPEG, Mb. –Nico Myatovic scored the game winner in overtime and The Seattle Thunderbirds slid past the Winnipeg ICE, 4-3, Wednesday at Wayne Fleming Arena in a battle of WHL conference leaders. The win improves Seattle’s record to 29-6-1-1 and keeps them atop the Western Conference. The Thunderbirds six game road trip continues Friday with a stop in Prince Albert to face the Raiders.
The winning goal came at 3:26 of the extra period as Myatovic scored his 15th of the season, on assists from Jordan Gustafson and Kevin Korchinski. “Korch made a good play up to Gussy. I saw that we were on a 2-on-1, so I was cocked and loaded in case the puck was coming over to me and Gus made an unbelievable play to slide it over to me there.”
The win stopped Seattle’s two game losing skid. Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette called it a gutsy effort as Seattle started the game with just seventeen skaters then lost Lucas Ciona at 9:11 of the first period to a five-minute major and automatic game misconduct. “We needed everyone to step up to get that one done. It was a really good team we had across from us. It was nice to get back on the winning side.”
O’Dette especially had praise for his back end of goalie Thomas Milic and his six defensemen. “Milly was tremendous in net. I thought the back end was great, Allan and Prokop were a real veteran presence for us back there and that’s what you need when you play these top teams. You need your big guys to answer the bell and they did that for us tonight.”
It was a penalty filled first period and Seattle fell behind early when Winnipeg scored a power play goal at 2:36. The Thunderbirds had a chance to tie on a lengthy two-man advantage but were denied. Then Ciona was assessed the five-minute penalty for charging. The two teams initially skated four-on-four, after the ICE retaliated and were given a minor for roughing. Seattle was then able to kill off the ensuing three-minute Winnipeg man advantage.
The Thunderbirds took another penalty late in the period. Instead of giving up another power play goal though, they scored shorthanded courtesy of Reid Schaefer at 18:02, an unassisted goal that banked in off a defender.
Seattle grabbed their first lead at 7:16 of the second period on a power play goal from Kyle Crnkovic. The goal was the 100th of his WHL career. “It took a little bit longer than expected, but it was nice to get it in a big game.” Korchinski and Jared Davidson had assists.
Winnipeg forged a 2-2 tie before the second intermission with a goal with just 28-seconds remaining. Then Schaefer struck again for Seattle at 7:13 of the third period to put Seattle back up by one. The two goals were Schaefer’s first since returning from World Juniors with Team Canada.
“It feels good. The first one was a little cheeky, it went off the Winnipeg defender and in. The second one was just a set play. Davy found me back door. I waited and waited, saw a shooting lane and it was lucky enough to go in.”
An ICE goal at 14:39 of the third tied the game, forcing the overtime period and the Myatovic heroics.
After two road games this weekend, the Thunderbirds return home to the accesso ShoWare Center January 20th to host the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
This was Seattle’s first game in Winnipeg since the ICE relocated there from Cranbrook, B.C. at the start of the 2019-20 season.
While the power play goal was Crnkovic’s 100th in the WHL, the helper on the goal was Korchinski’s 100th assist.
Thomas Milic made 30 saves in his first start since backstopping Canada to gold at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships last week.
Boxscore: WHL Network