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WHL Champsionship: Bow, Thunderbirds fall victim to fluke goal again

Two straight nights of overtime hockey and Seattle comes home down 2-0 in the WHL Championship Series.

Western Hockey League

BRANDON, Manitoba - It could not have come on the worst weekend to let two goals go by you without further notice.

Especially in overtime.

Goaltender Landon Bow's attempt to stop a backhanded shot from the far right corner from Brandon Wheat Kings center Jayce Hawryluk was a success...and then unexpectedly, at last second, failed.  And for the second consecutive night, the Seattle Thunderbirds goaltender falls victim of another fluke overtime-winning goal from the Wheat Kings in another 3-2 stunner on Saturday night inside Keystone Centre's Westman Place.

Brandon leads the best-of-seven Western Hockey League Chynoweth Cup Final series 2-0, with Game 3 set for Tuesday at 7:05 pm at ShoWare Center in Kent.

Bow had given up a goal with 6:42 gone into the extra overtime period on Friday when a puck shot by the Wheat Kings hit the glass behind the T-Bird net and ricocheted back towards Bow which was tapped in by Brandon's Tanner Kaspick to win Friday's Game 1.  On Saturday night, it was deja vu for the 20-year-old from St. Albert, Alberta, this time from Hawryluk as he was credited with this fluke goal officially taking away the Thunderbirds chances of hoisting the Chynoweth Cup on home ice.

"Good chip by (Wheat Kings left-wing Tyler) Coulter to get it down low," said Hawryluk, who explained in the post-game press conference with the media about the overtime winner.  "(It's been) something we've been working on is getting the pucks down at (the) D(efensive)-end.  Needed a great job there.  Patty (Nolan Patrick) was going hard to the net.   I tried going to him and got a fortunate bounce and it went in."

For Seattle, it was another blow to a hard fought 60+ minute hockey game.  Like Friday night, it would be Donovan Neuls scoring the T-Birds first goal in the second.  Unlike Friday night, the team's first goal in Saturday night's game was the game's first goal.

And after seeing each team face 11 shots in the first period, it only took a minute into the second period for Seattle to jump out to that 1-0 lead when right after Thunderbird defenseman Turner Ottenbreit layed out a good clean hit on Wheat King center John Quenneville deep in the far right wing corner of the Seattle zone, the Thunderbirds put the puck out deep on the other end.  With goaltender Jordan Papirny playing the puck just outside of the crease and putting it near the left wing boards, Scott Eansor prevented the puck from going towards the boards by putting his stick on it immediately and connected a clean cross ice pass to Neuls who snapped it passed Papirny from the right circle.  Both Eansor and Ryan Gropp would earn the assists.

"I think we're just trying to get pucks to the net as much as we can and just establishing a good forecheck," Nuels said.

After Brandon was caught for goaltender interference for the second consecutive time just 59 seconds after the Neuls goal, the Wheat Kings would retaliate just 22 seconds into the T-Bird power play.  Ethan Bear's pass to Gropp failed and Ivan Provorov picked up the puck off the boards and then made a good clean pass to Patrick in the neutral zone and skated up the left wing circle on a 2-on-1 with Hawryluk as his right wing man.  With Bear as the lone defenseman in the zone, Patrick took a wrist shot from the left circle and beat Bow short-handed at the 2:21 mark to tie things up at one.  Provorov would get the assist and Thunderbirds head coach Steve Konowalchuk was furious at his team following the goal.

Seattle would fail to convert on that power play, their second of the evening.  Both clubs would go back to their locker rooms and Brandon take control of the shots department after leading the period in that category 11-10, 22-21 after 40 minutes.

Later in the third period and after Jared Hauf's delay of game penalty, Brandon would commit not one but two penalties within a minute and 15 seconds.  Three seconds after Hauf's penalty,  Patrick would go in for interference.  But the big one occurred with 40 seconds remaining on the 4-on-4 when Eansor lost possession of the puck after getting it near the corner in the Brandon and was cross-checked into the boards by Mitch Wheaton, setting up the Thunderbirds' fifth power play of the night.  And they would match last night's statistic by closing out going 1-for-5 for the second night in a row with Bear scoring his seventh playoff goal from Jerret Smith and Mathew Barzal at 10:30 giving Seattle a commanding 2-1 lead.

"Smitty gave me the puck and I happened to see a lane right when I took the shot and we also got a lucky bounce," said Bear on his power play go-ahead goal.  "It went off one of their players sticks and in the net.  I was pretty happy and we were pretty lively after the goal.  But we got to stick to our game plan.  After the second one, I think we got off it and didn't stick to it."

It would not last for long, however.  Bear briefly intercepted a pass from Patrick while standing in front of Bow.  As soon as Bear tried to clear out of the slot, Coulter was right there in front of him and the puck deflected off his skate and into the net and the game was tied once again at two; Hawryluk and Patrick would earn the assists at 14:40 and for the second straight night, both teams would head to overtime.

For Konowalchuk, being down 2-0 is still a hockey series and one bad shot does not mean they are out of it just yet.

"Well, basically, like I said, we played five good periods," he said.  "I mean, it's hockey.  Maybe we've wrapped up the other series early;  we won one of the overtime games.  Maybe we got a couple of bounces that we didn't have to drag out on some of those series.  You know we didn't get a couple of bounces.  So things even out...2-0 is still a series.  And you need to be able to face some adversity.  I think we've talked as a team before at some point and somewhere in the playoffs you're going to have your backs against the wall a little bit.  And that's the way it is.  You are not going to go all the way through and run the table.  So I don't think its anything too unexpected here.  We just got to make sure that we get ready for next game."

WHL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES NOTES

Neuls was the first player in the WHL Championship Series since 2003 to have scored his team's first goal in both Games 1 & 2.  The last player to do that was Ryan Cuthbert of the Kelowna Rockets, who scored Kelowna's first goal in those respective games against the Red Deer Rebels.  Cuthbert's goal in Game 1 was the series' first goal, while the goal he scored in Game 2 tied the game at one.

Bow is now 5-10 lifetime against the Wheat Kings including regular season games against Brandon while being a member of the Swift Current Broncos.

Former Thunderbirds left wing Tyler Metcalfe joined Thom Beuning during Saturday night's radio broadcast.

Wheat Kings' Patrick was named the WHL Player of the Week on Monday.

The Thunderbirds announced on Monday via newsletter that Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan, a native of Regina, Saskatchewan, will be do the ceremonial puck drop prior to Tuesday's Game 3, which is already a sellout.  Ryan used to play goalie in the Midget AAA level.

According to the T-Birds ticket homepage, as of 4 pm Monday, there were approximately 800 tickets remaining for Wednesday's Game 4, which is being called "Whiteout Wednesday", where the first 5,000 fans that come through the turnstiles at ShoWare Center will receive a free Thunderbirds white t-shirt.

For those that are unable to attend Tuesday night's game, here is how you can follow:

Radio (AM):  KFNQ-AM 1090 The Fan [Seattle] / CKLQ 880 AM [Brandon]

Radio (HD):  KJAQ 96.5 HD3 [1090 The Fan]

Internet (audio):  Radio.com & TuneIn

Internet (video):  WHL Live ($7.99)

TV:  Shaw TV (Western Canada - LIVE); ROOT Sports Northwest (tape delay, Wednesday 1:30 am)

Stats:  WHL.ca / SeattleThunderbirds.com