Edmonton, AB. –Lucas Ciona’s goal early in the third period stood as the game winner and the Seattle Thunderbirds stayed alive in the WHL Championship Series with a, 3-2, Game 5 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings at Rogers Place. Seattle still trails in the series, three games to two. Game 6 is Monday, also in Edmonton.
It was the sixth time in the 2022 postseason that Seattle has faced a must win situation. They are now 6-0 in those games. T-birds head coach Matt O’Dette said it once again showed Seattle’s no quit attitude. “Lots of character in our room. We just go with the mindset to earn another game. We’ve been through a lot together as a team this season and it’s prepared us for these moments.”
O’Dette said they were able to play their style of game and execute the game plan. “It was a very similar effort to the last game, but maybe some of the bounces went our way tonight.”
Edmonton opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period as Josh Williams deflected a centering pass into the net at the 6:25 mark. The Oil Kings almost added to their lead midway through the opening stanza, but Seattle goalie Thomas Milic denied Jalen Luypen on a shorthanded breakaway chance. The T-bird netminder said he was just doing his job. “Obviously it was a big moment in the game. Being able to make that save helped keep the momentum going in our favor and we were able to transition back on to the power play.”
Milic said he didn’t face as many shots as he did earlier in the series because his teammates were doing the job in front of him. “Our guys did a good job boxing out their guys, tying up sticks. That helped make my job easier.”
Seattle tied the game on an unassisted goal from Conner Roulette at 2:13 of period two. “I tried making a play to (Sam) Popowich on the 2-on-1, but their back checker got to it. It kind of kicked out to me in the slot. I just threw it on net. Poppy got the flash screen, skating right in front of their net, and it went five hole.”
The Thunderbirds took the lead for good with a Matt Rempe power play goal six and a half minutes later. Reid Schaefer had the primary assist. It was Rempe’s eighth of the postseason. “Schaefs made an unreal play with a toe drag. He sent it to me. I was hanging out high in the zone and shot it and it went in, but it was a great play by Schaefs.”
Ciona’s game winner came at 2:21 of the third period as he swept home a rebound of a Niko Myatovic shot. Jared Davidson earned the second assist. “Davy made the play to get the puck to me,” said Ciona. “I just went to the net and saw Nico and fed him the puck. I was able to get to the rebound and put it home.”
The Oil Kings would close within one just before the midpoint of the third period when Carson Golder deflected one past Milic at 9:14. But Seattle was able to fend off Edmonton the rest of the way to preserve the win.
Henrik Rybinski was back in the lineup after being sidelined with an undisclosed injury since the second period of Game 1.
Seattle captain Ty Bauer did not play, serving out the first game of a two game suspension.
The T-birds won the special team battle, going 1-for-5 on the power play while their penalty kill was a perfect 6-for-6.
Should the series go to Game 7, it will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton Tuesday.
Full boxscore: WHL Network