*This was originally posted May 31, 2022*
…and there we have it. Seven games in the Western Conference Championship series and we finally have a winner.
Both the Kamloops Blazers and the Seattle Thunderbirds came out looking strong, something they’ve both done consistently through the postseason, however, it took a few minutes to get the shots going. At the first media timeout, the shots were 2-1 in favor of the Thunderbirds. Unfortunately for Seattle, Fraser Minten would get Kamloops on the board first at the 8:34 mark. (If you haven’t seen the goal yet, I highly recommend you go watch it)
While Minten’s tally could have taken some of the wind from under Seattle’s wings, the Thunderbirds seemed to step it up throughout the rest of the first period. When Reece Belton was called for hooking, the Thunderbirds would see the first power play of the game. It took just seven seconds on the man advantage for Jared Davidson to get the Thunderbirds on the board to tie the game. Davidson’s goal came 15:47 into the game and things would remain even to finish the period.
Davidson just wants to keep playing, and he proved it as he picked up his second goal of the game, this time at even strength, just 2:27 into the middle frame. The next 12:29 would see the two teams play fairly even to one another until Washington Capitals prospect Henrik Rybinski tipped in a Jeremy Hanzel shot to double the Seattle lead at 14:56 of the period. Kamloops would finish the period still without having an opportunity on the power play, with no penalties called in the second. Both teams were firing on all cylinders, and even a 3-1 score would not leave anybody comfortable calling the game for the Thunderbirds as the two teams headed into the third period.
The Blazers came out looking to turn things around in the third period, and Kamloops captain Logan Stankoven turned up his physical play. With a big open-ice hit early in the final 20 minutes, Stankoven would take Hanzel out of the game for a few shifts, and give his team a little more energy in what could be the final minutes of their season. With 7.3 seconds left in the game, Daylan Kuefler would light the lamp one last time in the series, to put the Blazers within one, but it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the hungry Thunderbirds.
With a 3-2 victory, the Seattle Thunderbirds win the Western Conference and have just one more team to overcome as they contain
*Tue their run to the Memorial Cup.
Shots were 37-35 in favor of the Thunderbirds, and Blazers goaltender Dylan Garand gave an outstanding performance throughout the series.
Kamloops overage players Quinn Schmiemann, Luke Toporowski, and Viktor Persson were recognized as the three stars following the game, as their WHL careers come to an end with an impressive run.
For the Thunderbirds, Davidson’s two goals give him 11 in this postseason, while Lukas Svejkovsky picked up an assist on all three Seattle goals.
With that, your Seattle Thunderbirds are the WHL Western Conference Champions!
The WHL Championship series is set to start in Edmonton on Friday, June 3. The Edmonton Oil Kings will host the Seattle Thunderbirds at Rogers place, with puck drop set for 7 PM MT/6 PM PT. The Oil Kings are 12-1 in the 2022 playoffs, while the Thunderbirds are 12-7, having battled their way to winning back-to-back seven-game series against two of the top teams in the Western Conference. With just one more powerhouse
The Thunderbirds are victims of building availability conflicts and will only see two home games in this final WHL series.
Tickets for the games in Kent at the accesso ShoWare will go on sale Wednesday morning at 10 AM PT.