Centre @TheTrueAlex97 of @SeattleTbirds fires home the #WHLChampionship winning goal at 12:36 of OT. T-Birds win 4-3. pic.twitter.com/W9T6wWXIiP— Darren Steinke (@StanksSports) May 15, 2017
At Regina, F Alexander True scored on his own rebound at 12:36 of OT to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 victory over the Pats. . . . Seattle won the WHL championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 4-2, bringing the franchise the first title in its history. . . . The Thunderbirds move on to the Memorial Cup that opens Friday in Windsor, Ont. Also there will be the host Spitfires, the OHL-champion Erie Otters and QMJHL-champion Saint John Sea Dogs. . . . The Pats will be the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. . . . All three championship final games in Regina needed OT, with Seattle taking Game 1, 2-1, on a goal from F Donovan Neuls, and the Pats winning Game 2, 4-3, when D Josh Mahura scored. . . . Last night, True entered the Regina zone on the right side, got off a shot, went to the net and was able to tuck in his own rebound for his 12th goal of these playoffs. . . . Seattle was 3-2 in OT in these playoffs; Regina was 2-5.
Last 3 teams to clinch WHL championship in overtime, Kelowna 09 (Tyson Barrie), Medicine Hat 07 Brennan Bosch), Kootenay 02 (Duncan Milroy)— Jeff Hollick (@JeffHollick) May 15, 2017
Regina F Sam Steel (11) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 7:18 of the first period, the third time in the series that he had scored the game’s first goal. . . . Seattle equalized at 8:55 of the second period as F Sami Moilanen scored his seventh goal. . . . The Pats went ahead 3-1 with two quick goals in the third period, D Josh Mahura (8) pounding in a rebound at 11:50 and F Austin Wagner scoring his playoff-leading 16th goal on a breakaway at 13:12. . . . The Thunderbirds got to within a goal at 14:38 as F Ryan
Gropp (7) scored on a wrist shot from the slot, giving him goals in three straight games. . . . Seattle forced OT as F Keegan Kolesar (12) scored on a slapshot from the left dot, on a PP, at 17:06. Regina D Chad Harrison had been penalized for holding Kolesar. . . . Seattle got two assists from D Ethan Bear, with Gropp and Kolesar adding one apiece. . . . Mahura had an assist for Regina. . . . True, a 19-year-old from Copenhagen, Denmark, put up 22 points, including 12 goals, in 20 playoff games. That followed a regular season in which he had 40 points, including 25 goals, in 66 games. . . . G Carl Stankowski stopped 28 shots for Seattle as he completed what was the No. 1 story of these playoffs. . . . G Tyler Brown made 39 saves for the Pats. . . . Each team was 1-4 on the PP. . . . In the six games, Seattle was 9-27 on the PP, with Regina going 8-24. . . . Seattle lost D Turner Ottenbreit at 9:11 of the second period when he was given a charging major and game misconduct for a hit on Wagner, who missed the remainder of that period. Wagner returned for the start of the third period. . . . Regina F Adam Brooks, the captain, returned for the first time since Game 1 when he left with a suspected concussion after taking a hard check from Ottenbreit. Brooks was held pointless. . . . Seattle’s scratches: G Rylan Toth (injured), F Elijah Brown, F Tyler Carpendale, F Dillon Hamaliuk, D Jake Lee and F Luke Ormsby. . . . Regina scratches: D Dawson Davidson and F Jake Leschyshyn, with injuries, F Kjell Kjemhus, G Max Paddock, F Duncan Pierce and F Owen Williams. . . . With Brooks back in the lineup, Kjemhus came out. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484, Regina’s 26th sellout of the season. . . . The game signalled the end of the line for the WHL on Shaw TV after a 13-year run.
And with that OT goal in the #WHLChampionship, sports on @ShawTV is no more. Thanks a lot, @CRTCeng. @WHLonShawTV @CWonShawTV— Jim Mullin (@Jim_Mullin) May 15, 2017
Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has a game story right here.
Darren Steinke, the Travellin’ Blogger, was on hand and posted this piece right here.
Tim Pigulski of 701 ESPN Seattle has a gamer right here.
The Seattle Thunderbirds with the biggest win for an American team in Regina since the 1995 Baltimore Stallions. pic.twitter.com/uRd7o0YP4k— Lucas Punkari (@lpunkari) May 15, 2017
The Seattle Thunderbirds began life as the Vancouver Nats (1971-73), then moved to Kamloops and played four seasons (1973-77) as the Chiefs. They relocated to Seattle as the Breakers for the 1977-78 season. After eight seasons, they became the Thunderbirds for 1985-86.
Prior to last season, the closest Seattle had come to winning a WHL title was in 1996-97 when they were swept from the championship final by the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Last season, the Brandon Wheat Kings took out Seattle in the final, 4-1.
At game’s end, F Mathew Barzal of the Thunderbirds was saluted as the playoff MVP.
However, you could make a pretty good case for Seattle G Carl Stankowski, who is the first starting
goaltender to win a WHL championship in his 16-year-old season since Dan Blackburn did it with the Kootenay Ice in the spring of 2000. Blackburn played in 51 regular-season games and 21 in the playoffs.
Stankowski, who turned 17 on March 9, is from Calgary. The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder played in only seven regular-season games, going 3-0-1, 2.18, .910. Starter Rylan Toth, 20, who led the WHL in regular-season victories (36), went down late in the regular season.
Stankowski stepped into the starter’s role and went 16-4, 2.50, .911. He set franchise records for most victories by a goaltender in one playoff season and most career playoff victories.
Stankowski’s performance brings back memories of Blackburn and Randy Petruk.
In 1995, Petruk was 16 when he took over the Kamloops Blazers’ starting role during Game 2 of the championship final against the Brandon Wheat Kings. Petruk, who had appeared in 27 regular-season games, remained in that role for the remainder of the season as the Blazers won their third Memorial Cup in four seasons.
And then there was the 1971-72 Edmonton Oil Kings. They went 44-22-2 to finish second in the West Division, before winning the playoff title by taking out the New Westminster Bruins, 4-1; the Calgary Centennials, 4-2; and the Regina Pats, 4-1.
Edmonton’s goaltenders were Doug Soetaert, who was 15, and Larry Hendrick, 16. In the regular season, Hendrick played in 46 games, with Soetaert getting into 37. In the playoffs, Soetaert played in six games, while Hendrick’s total seems to have been lost in the shuffle. The WHL Guide was first published prior to the 1972-73 season and doesn’t include any playoff goaltending stats from the spring of 1972.
F Keegan Kolesar of the Seattle Thunderbirds led the WHL playoff scoring race, his 31 points leaving him one ahead of Regina F Sam Steel. F Reid Gardiner of the Kelowna Rockets, who lost to Seattle in the third round, was third, at 28. . . . F Austin Wagner of Regina led in goals (16), one more than Gardiner. . . . Seattle D Ethan Bear was No. 1 in assists, with 20, one more than Kolesar and Steel.
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