Thunderbirds extend WHL Championship Series with Game 5 win

Edmonton, Alta. – Lucas Ciona’s goal to make it 2:21 in the third half established the game-winner and the Seattle Thunderbirds forced a Game 6 in the 2022 WHL Championship Series with a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Thunderbirds goaltender Thomas Milic parried 28 shots, including 13 in the third half as Seattle withstood a rally in Edmonton to extend the streak and improve to 6-0 as he was eliminated in those playoffs.

“Getting through the tough times of the season has strengthened our team and strengthened our resolve,” said Matt O’Dette, Thunderbirds head coach.

“We know that we can master situations and bumps on the road. So when the playoffs come around, different things have happened to us and we’ve seen it all,” added O’Dette.

Edmonton batted first 6:25 in the first period. Vegas Golden Knights’ Jakub Demek fished a puck out of the right outside corner before firing a pass to the front of the net and finding linemate Josh Williams, who then guided the puck past Seattle goaltender Thomas Milic.

The Thunderbirds beat the Oil Kings 10-7 in the opening frame and tied the score to 2-13 in the second period thanks to Dallas Stars contender Conner Roulette. The Seattle forward parried a check on neutral ice and kicked the puck to his racquet before firing a shot through Edmonton goalie Sebastian Cossa’s pads.

Seattle took the lead on a power play just under seven minutes later. New York Rangers’ Matthew Rempe found space in the offensive zone, accepted the puck in the high slot, and wired a snap past Cossa’s blocking hand.

Rempe has scored in each of the three games at Rogers Place in the 2022 WHL Championship Series.

Both goalies made big saves in the second half, most notably Cossa, who stopped the Thunderbirds from extending their lead in the last minute by slamming the door on a Lukas Svejkovsky escape attempt.

Seattle extended their lead to 3-1 through Ciona’s goal. The Calgary Flames pro shot into the net from the left touchline and collected a rebound from the first chance before scoring his ninth goal of the postseason.

The Oil Kings fired 14 shots at the Thunderbirds’ goal in the third period, pulling within one when Carson Golder redirected a shot past Milic’s right pad for his sixth straight point.

Milic stayed composed and tall, robbing Edmonton’s Jakub Demek with a close-range chance two minutes from time to seal the win for Seattle.

“They had a little push in the second half, we kind of backed off, but I liked our third, I thought we had a lot of setbacks,” said Oil Kings head coach Brad Lauer, “we just didn’t have time anymore.”

Seattle has now won the WHL Championship Series twice away, coming off as winners in all four all-game away games.

“We’re a resilient group, we’ve been in this situation before and we have that experience to draw on,” said Matt O’Dette.

“Our goal before the game was to win another game and that’s what we did tonight.”

Cossa made 31 saves in the Oil Kings crease.

The Thunderbirds finished 1/5 on the power play while Edmonton went 0/6.

Game 6 is scheduled for Monday, June 13 (7:30 p.m. MT, Rogers Place, TSN 3/4, Fox13+), with Seattle designated as the home team.

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