|Photo courtesy Brian Liesse|
Nolan Volcan's even strength goal at 2:21 of the third period was the winner as the Seattle Thunderbirds outlasted the Regina Pats 7-4 Friday night at the ShoWare Centre in Kent, WA.
The victory gave the Thunderbirds a 3-2 lead in the Best-of-7 WHL championship series and the chance to wrap it up in Game 6 Sunday in Regina.
Following a humbling 6-1 loss on Wednesday, the Pats came out flying early in Game 5 as Josh Mahura and Jeff DeWitt both scored to give the visitors a 2-0 lead just three minutes into the game.
However the lead was shortlived. The Thunderbirds struck back with goals from Donovan Neuls and Mathew Barzal just 52 seconds apart to tie the game up at 2-2 going into the second period.
Giving up goals in bunches has been a major problem for the Pats in this series.
Dawson Leedahl's powerplay goal at 9:32 of the middle frame gave the Pats another brief lead however back-to-back goals from Seattle's Keegan Kolesar and Barzal - only 57 seconds apart - put the T-Birds on top 4-3 after 40 minutes.
The trend continued early in the third, as the T-Birds' Nolan Volcan and Ryan Gropp beat Pats goalie Tyler Brown with a pair of goals just 1:34 apart for an insurmountable 6-3 advantage.
The Pats' Austin Wagner struck midway through the third period to provide a glimmer of hope however Seattle's Turner Ottenbreit iced the game with an empty-netter with just two seconds remaining.
Game Over: Seattle 7 Regina 4
The Thunderbirds outshot the Pats 39-37 while going a devastating 3/5 on the powerplay. Regina was 1/3 on the man advantage.
The Pats' penchant for mini-breakdowns in this series which have led to rapid Seattle goals was a matter Coach & GM John Paddock cared little to address in his postgame news conference. "That's just hockey," Paddock shrugged.
However you know it's a matter that will be addressed behind closed doors in video sessions between now and Sunday.
And as for facing elimination for the first time since April 17 when the Pats hosted Swift Current in Game 7 of the Conference Semifinals goes, the team is not panicking.
"We've been in this position before," chimed Pats defenceman Connor Hobbs in the postgame news conference. Indeed they have, as the Pats scrapped back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Broncos to post a 5-1 victory in the deciding game.
So the teams head back to Regina on Saturday and get set for Sunday's all-important Game 6 with the Pats' backs against the wall.
Regina was again without its captain, and inspirational leader, Adam Brooks for Friday's Game 5. His status for Game 6 is uncertain.
It truly would be a shame for the Pats to lose this series given the fact they've played far from their best in the last two games. They've also shown - in Games 2 and 3 - that they can win without Brooks.
Faceoff on Sunday in the Brandt Centre is 6:00 pm on 620 CKRM, Access 7 and the WHL on Shaw.