Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
November 24, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Seattle Thunderbirds dominated the Victoria Royals for nearly 58 minutes on Friday night, but then let their guard down for the final two, as the Royals received goals from Igor Martynov (his second of the game, with 2:05 remaining) and Jared Legien (with 18 seconds remaining) to escape with a come from behind 4-3 win over the Thunderbirds in front of an announced crowd of just over 5,000 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.
Martynov’s game tying goal came on an impressive power move from behind the net, as he used all of his reach to wrap the puck around the leg of Seattle goaltender Matt Berlin. Just 1:47 later, Legien found himself in alone on a breakaway and beat Berlin cleanly to send the crowd into a frenzy.
Martynov’s and Legien’s heroics would not have been possible were it not for the stellar play of Royal’s goaltender Griffen Outhouse, the game’s first star, who stopped 43 of the Thunderbird’s 46 shots. Two of the Thunderbird goals came in a first period that saw Seattle dominate, outshooting the Royals 15-8 and getting goals from Sami Moilanen (5:04) and Zack Andrusiak (11:34) that gave the T-Birds a 2-1 lead into the first break. Martynov responded for the Royals with his first goal at 6:39 of the frame.
The two goals that Outhouse gave up in the first, were two that he probably would have liked to have back, but he more than made up for those early in the second, when he came up with three huge saves with the Thunderbirds on an early powerplay.
That seemed to give the Royals some life and they would proceed to tie the game at the 9:44 mark of the period, on a powerplay of their own, with Matthew Phillips notching his 20th goal of the season, knocking in a rebound after a solid first attempt from the shifty Dante Hannoun.
Just when it looked like that tie would carry through to the second intermission, the Thunderbirds won a key faceoff in the Royals end, with Dillon Hamaliuk eventually banging home a rebound with 33 seconds left in the frame to give Seattle a 3-2 lead.
Outhouse (now 15-4-1-0 in his 21 appearances) would take over after that, stopping all 16 of the Thunderbird’s third period shots (Seattle ended up outshooting the Royals 46-23) to keep the Royals in the game and set the stage for the late game drama. Seattle pulled Berlin for an extra attacker after the Royals fourth goal, but were not able to get the tying goal in the final 18 seconds of the game.
With the win, the Royals snap a two-game losing streak and improve their BC Division leading record to 17-8-1-0. The defending WHL Champion Thunderbirds fall to 11-10-1-1 and drop into last place in the US Division.
The Thunderbirds went 0 for 5 on the powerplay, while the Royals converted one of their seven chances
The two teams will be right back at it on Saturday night in Victoria in the second game of the set. Puck drop at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre is at 7:05 pm. The Royals then hit the road for a four-game swing through the prairies, with stops in Moose Jaw (Nov. 28), Swift Current (Nov. 29), Medicine Hat (Dec. 1) and Lethbridge (Dec. 2) before returning home for a game with Kootenay on December 8th.
Game Notes: Victoria’s Tyler Soy (124g-139a) was held off the score sheet Friday and thus remains one point back of Brandon Magee (113g-151a) for the all-time franchise record for most career points. Victoria defenceman Jared Freadrich played his 150th career WHL game Friday. The 46 shots on goal for the T-Birds was their season high for shots.
See all Christian J. Stewart’s images from this game at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/p346774584