SEATTLE 4 VICTORIA 1
No captain? No problem for the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds began the post-Matthew Wedman era with a 4-1 Western Hockey League victory over the Victoria Royals on Friday night.
The 20-year-old Seattle captain was traded to the Kelowna Rockets late Thursday, severing the last player connection to the 2017 team that won Seattle’s only WHL championship in the 43-year history of the franchise.
The Royals (14-9-2), meanwhile, played as if they have taken their recent glowing media reports to heart about being one of the hottest teams in the league and a big surprise of the WHL season.
They seemed to have abandoned everything that got them those reviews. Newcomers among the 3,681 fans might have been left wondering what all the recent fuss was about.
Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette has seen a lot in Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, during seven seasons as a pro defenceman with the Fresno Falcons and Stockton Thunder against the Victoria Salmon Kings in the ECHL, and since 2013 as either assistant or head coach of the Thunderbirds.
O’Dette had to like what he saw Friday night as his Thunderbirds (9-14-3), currently sitting outside of playoff position, received a much-needed boost.
Two Victoria defensive turnovers behind the net, the first by Mitchell Prowse and second by Carson Golder, allowed Henrik Rybinski and hometown Victoria product Payton Mount to give Seattle a 2-0 lead.
It got worse when Conner Roulette banked in Seattle’s third goal off the skate of Victoria blueliner Will Warm at 8:18 of the second period.
Three goals on 14 shots were enough to get Victoria starting goaltender Brock Gould yanked and replaced by Shane Farkas.
The Royals finally struck late in the second period when Gary Haden scored on the power play to boost his total over the past five games to five goals and seven points. But Mount’s triumphant homecoming was complete with his second goal of the night at 11:11 of the third period.
The teams meet again tonight on Blanshard.