Seattle Thunderbirds struck for three power-play goals in a five-minute span and that proved to be too much for the Vancouver Giants to overcome on Friday night.
Former Giant Lukas Svejkovsky scored two of those three goals – the first of which came on a lengthy five-on-three advantage – as Seattle skated to a 5-2 win at Langley Events Centre in Western Hockey League action.
PREVIEW: Tonight in Seattle, Mazden Leslie and the G-Men return to action in the back-half of a home-and-home weekend with the @SeattleTbirds.— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) March 26, 2022
⌚️: 6:05 PM
More 📎: https://t.co/LhQ78aq0dA
📸: @Rjmediadottech pic.twitter.com/1vPZ3r9UV2
The loss leaves Vancouver (23-31-4-0) tied with the Victoria Royals (22-34-5-1) for sixth place in the Western Conference with 50 points, although the Giants do hold four games in hand. Seattle improved to 37-17-4-2 and 80 points, which has them in fourth place.
With 10 games to play in the regular season, Vancouver has a seven-point cushion (with two games in hand) on the Spokane Chiefs, who are in ninth place and below the playoff bar.
“I thought we came ready to play. We had some great opportunities early, we don’t score, and they convert on the power play, put us on our heels,” said coach Michael Dyck.
Svejkovsky and Schaefer put Seattle ahead by a pair with goals 36 seconds apart and then after the Giants were whistled for a too many men penalty, Svejkovsky made it 3-0, spelling the end of goaltender Will Gurski’s night after just 8:57 and eight shots on goal.
Damian Palmieri gets the offence started! pic.twitter.com/YqOdErvqkJ— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) March 26, 2022
Less than five minutes later, Damian Palmieri got the home side on the board and the Giants cut the lead two one when Ethan Semeniuk scored on a second-period power play. But less than four minutes later, Ethan Mittelsteadt restored the two-goal advantage before Jared Davidson rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal in the final minute of play.
Right place, right time for Ethan Semeniuk on the powerplay! pic.twitter.com/TtEFErNcb0— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) March 26, 2022
Dyck did not feel the fourth goal against was a backbreaker after Vancouver battled back to make it a one-goal game with just less than 30 minutes to play.
“I think the backbreaker was going down 3-0. We have got to find a way to stay out of the box and we have to find a way to make a save in those situations to keep us within striking distance,” he said.
For the game, Seattle was 3-for-4 on the power play while Vancouver was 1-for-7.
Despite the loss – a second straight defeat after Vancouver was 3-0-1 in their previous four games – Dyck did like some aspects of his team’s performance.
I didn’t like our response after those three goals, but I liked our response in the second and third periods,” he said, especially considering the Giants were missing seven regulars from the line-up and then lost captain Zack Ostapchuk for the final 20 minutes with an injury.
Goaltender Connor Martin was also solid in relief, stopping 19 of 20 shots.
“I thought he played really well after he came in. That was exactly what we needed, settled us down and I think that was part of the turning point,” Dyck added.
The two teams head to Seattle to complete the home-and-home series tonight, before the Vancouver Giants wrap up a busy weekend by hosting the Prince George Cougars at Langley Events Centre on Sunday. Puck drop at 4 p.m. Tickets available online.
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