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Cougars drop Game 1 to Thunderbirds

Brian Liesse photo

KENT, Wash. –Dylan Guenther scored twice, and the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Prince George Cougars, 4-1, Friday at the accesso ShoWare Center in Game One of their second-round playoff series. Brad Lambert was credited with three assists in his return from illness. Game Two is Saturday at 6 p.m., also at the accesso ShoWare Center.

Guenther a 2021 first round pick of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, was acquired at the WHL trade deadline to help the Thunderbirds make a long playoff run.

“It’s nice to contribute, to get on the scoresheet,” he said. “I’m playing with some good players and just want to continue to play the right way and good things will happen.”

Guenther opened the scoring just under two minutes into the first period, with Jeremy Hanzel and Lambert assisting. He added a second goal at 15:23 on the power play. “The power play is huge,” commented Guenther of his game winner. “Not only scoring but scoring key goals. A chance to get up by two there. It helps create momentum and I think we did that.” Lambert and Jared Davidson had the assist on Seattle’s second goal.

Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette thought it was his team’s best start through their first five playoff games. “We came out the right way,” he remarked. “Doing the right things, the things we need to do to be successful. Guys were setting up the next line to have success.”

Prince George would close to within a goal with a power play goal of their own late in the first period from Koehn Ziemmer. Seattle would put the Cougars on the man advantage four more times, but the penalty kill was sharp the rest of the way. O’Dette said they need to stay out of the penalty box against a potent Prince George power play.

“The first one (penalty) was avoidable,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re avoiding some of the stick penalties from behind the play. They have a pretty dangerous power play, and we need to limit their opportunities.”

Seattle added two more goals in the third period to pull away. Lucas Ciona struck at 2:48 with Lambert earning his third assist. Nico Myatovic tacked on an empty net goal at 19:36, assisted by Davidson and Sawyer Mynio.

Thomas Milic made 23 saves to earn his nineteenth career playoff win with Seattle. The victory came on his 20th birthday. He said the credit gets spread around. “Having that experience behind me is huge. But a lot of my teammates have that experience behind them from last year too and so do the Edmonton guys we brought in (via trade). We’ve been in this situation before.”

After Saturday, the series will shift north to Prince George for Games Three and Four next Tuesday and Wednesday at the CN Centre.

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