Updated Feb 17, 2013 - 11:07 pm
Lockhart locks up big win against Giants
The T-Birds celebrate Luke Lockhart's overtime winner against Vancouver (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT - The Thunderbirds had another game go into overtime Sunday night at the ShoWare Center in Kent, the second game to do so this weekend against Vancouver. Unlike Friday night the T-Birds were able to come out victorious as Luke Lockhart sent everyone home with a short handed, break-away goal for a 2-1 victory.
"The way we played in the third we deserved that game," head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "I was pretty happy with our power play, we were just not putting the puck in the net, then all of a sudden to get an unfortunate penalty, not a stupid penalty, not a penalty that you deserve to lose a game on and (it felt like) are you kidding me, here we go again, but our guys did it and you know you work hard and try to do the right things sometimes you get some breaks."
Seattle has not fared well in the extra frame and in fact leads the WHL in overtime losses. On top of it, they had three minutes of power play time to kill off on Sunday resulting from a four minute high sticking call with a minute left in regulation. Seattle not only killed off the penalty but got the game wining goal.
The play started with a Lockhart block in his own end, Seth Swenson then picked the puck up and skated up ice. Lockhart quickly got to his skates and joined the rush. With two Vancouver players converging on him Swenson made a nifty back handed pass to Lockhart who beat Giants goalie Payton Lee through the five hole. The celebration was on as 5,019 fans erupted and the T-Birds rushed off the bench to converge on Lockhart.
"Huge Kill," Konowalchuk said. "The goal's a bonus but guys were sacrificing and blocking shots, it was a good way to win the game."
Afterwards the T-Birds captain was all smiles as his second short handed goal in three games picked up two big points for his team.
"I saw Swener (Seth Swenson) got the puck," Lockhart said. "I knew he had a lot of time, I saw an opening so I decided to go for it, he made a nice pass over and I finished it off."
Seattle got a second straight excellent performance from Brandon Glover who made 28 saves and kept a hard skating Giants club at bay.
"Both teams played really well defensively," Glover said. "We limited their chances against again tonight, it was good to see us come out with a big effort in the third, we controlled the pace of play. Unforunantly we took the penalty late there and we had to come out with some big blocks there in overtime to get us the two points, just a gutsy effort all around."
The T-Birds got the games first goal, a power play goal, in the second period as Alex Delnov was able to poke a rebound past Lee. It was Delnov's 19th of the season and gave Seattle some spark. The T-Birds kept the pressure on but could not beat Lee, who was excellent in net making 34 saves on 36 shots.
Vancouver got the equalizing goal late in the second, just as a power play ended, when former T-Bird Brendan Rouse knocked home a loose rebound past Glover and into an empty net. Despite not scoring in the third the Seattle defense clamped down and held Vancouver to limited chances and any that they did get were stopped by Glover.
Seattle had a shot late in the third when they went on a power play and had several close calls to end the game. Then with a minute and a half to go Jerret Smith got nabbed for the four minute high sticking call. It meant that Seattle would be short handed to end the game and then, if they survived, three minutes of overtime.
"When we took the penalty I thought we'd probably get through regulation," Glover said. "The tough part is the four-on-three, there's so much open ice and it's tough to defend everyone and you have to have everyone with their head on a swivel and aware out there. I think there were a barrage of shots there where I didn't have an angle and basically the D-men kept it out, it was a hell of an effort by them."
The penalty kill was solid all night, killing off all six Vancouver chances, and none more so than the last kill. They blocked shots, got saves from Glover and the defenseman got to pucks and sent them out of the zone. In the overtime, the power play became a tough four-on-three chance and Seattle again stood strong. This is the type of game that the T-Birds were losing, as recently as Friday night, but tonight Lockhart and Swenson made sure that didn't happen.
Seattle came into the weekend figuring that they were playing two games against the last place Giants which on paper seemed like it would be easy pickings. The Giants played hard and tough, scrapped out a win on Friday and gave the T-Birds everything they could handle on Sunday.
"You know what, that team plays hard," Konowalchuk said. "Give Vancouver credit, obviously they're far down in the standings but they're playing as hard as any team right now, they're playing a system, you have to give them credit there. Our guys played hard today too."
The T-Birds ended up getting five out of the possible six points up for grabs on what was the biggest weekend of the season as far as playoff seeding went. Seattle now is two points clear of the Everett Silvertips and is in 7th place all by themselves. They also put five points between them and the idle Prince George Cougars.
Seattle is idle this week and will next be in action Saturday evening against the Everett Silvertips at the ShoWare Center.
As Lockhart was breaking in on net a penalty was being called on the defender who hooked him. Would they have given Lockhart a penalty shot had he not scored? "I don't know, I think I would have been more frustrated that I didn't score off the bat," Lockhart said. "Either way I battled for the net and beat him five-hole."
For Vancouver, the game was their third straight overtime affair. After picking up the overtime win against Seattle on Friday they pushed Portland into the extra frame on Saturday, only to lose.
The first period was played with no referees and an on-call linesmen as the majority of the scheduled crew was stuck in traffic. Did it disrupt the game? "They did a great job," Konowalchuk said. "It's a tough call for them, they called one penalty on each side, they did a good job that period."
The game was only the second win for Seattle in a game that was decided in overtime. They beat Prince George in overtime in September before dropping the next six. They have won two shoot outs.
Here are the exciting highlights:
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