Seattle center Brad Lambert had a goal and five assists in an 8-1 victory over Prince George on Tuesday, April 18 in British Columbia. The Thunderbirds led the best-of-seven Western Hockey League series 3-0. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

Seattle center Brad Lambert had a goal and five assists in an 8-1 victory over Prince George on Tuesday, April 18 in British Columbia. The Thunderbirds led the best-of-seven Western Hockey League series 3-0. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

Lambert leads Kent-based T-Birds to 8-1 victory over Prince George

Seattle takes 3-0 lead in best-of-seven WHL playoffs second round

  • By Steve Hunter
  • Wednesday, April 19, 2023 12:23pm
  • Sports

By Thom Beuning

Seattle Thunderbirds

Brad Lambert had a goal and four assists to help lead the Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds to an 8-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars on Tuesday, April 18 at the CN Centre in British Columbia.

The victory gives the T-Birds a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series in the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs. The teams play again at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19 at Prince George. If a game five is necessary, it will be played at 7:05 p.m. Friday at the accesso ShoWare Center.

Lambert said it’s been some time since he’s had a game like he had Tuesday.

“In Bantam and Midget, but, yeah, it’s been a while,” he said. “We’re playing good as a line and as a team. I’ve been lucky that a lot of the passes I’ve been giving to the guys have been going in, but we’re just playing good hockey as a team.”

Seattle coach Matt O’Dette echoed Lambert’s words.

“Yeah, everyone pulling in the same direction,” O’Dette said. “Everyone’s buying in, all four lines are going. So are our defensemen and good goaltending. It’s the kind of effort you need to win games in the playoffs.”

Seattle got it started early, scoring four first period goals. Lambert and Luke Prokop set up the first goal, scored by Reid Schaefer at 1 minute, 42 seconds. Colton Dach made it 2-0 four minutes later with his first WHL postseason goal.

“It’s pretty nice to get that first one there, the first one ever,” Dach said. “Definitely gets the monkey off the back. Hopefully they keep going in.”

Sam Popowich and Jared Davidson had the assists.

Seattle scored the next two goals on the power play. Davidson got in on the scoring at 10:42 followed a minute and a half later by Gracyn Sawchyn. Lambert and Kevin Korchinski assisted on both goals.

Lambert stretched the lead to 5-0 with an unassisted breakaway goal 37 seconds into period two. Prince George got its only goal 10 minutes later, but Seattle struck twice more before the second period was over. Mekai Sanders got his first of the postseason at 16:03 when a Sawchyn shot ricocheted in off his backside. Dylan Guenther found the back of the net at 19:05. Both goals came with the T-Birds on the power play.

Guenther scored again midway through the third period to finish the offensive onslaught. With his two goals Guenther now has 10 in the playoffs and stretched his goal scoring streak to 13-games dating back to the regular season.

“I didn’t know I had it (the goal-scoring streak) until I saw it posted online today,” he said. “Always nice to score. I’m playing with good players and I’m burying my chances.”

Lambert assisted on each of Seattle’s last two goals as the T-Birds finished 4-for-4 on the power play and are now 11-for-24 with the man advantage in the playoffs, tops in the league.

“The biggest thing is the continuity,” said O’Dette of his team’s recent power play success. “We’re healthy. We’re getting reps in with our units, we’re taking advantage of our opportunities. We either score or give ourselves momentum and it’s been a big factor in the playoffs so far.”

T-Birds extras

• In the first three games of the series against Prince George Lambert has 13-points (2 goals, 11 assists). Guenther’s 10 postseason goals tie him with Connor Bedard for the WHL playoff lead. Lambert’s 13-assists are the most so far in the 2023 WHL postseason.

• Seattle acquired Lambert’s WHL playing rights on June 30, 2022 from the Saskatoon Blades in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2023 WHL Draft, a sixth-round pick in the 2023 WHL Draft, a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 WHL Draft, and a conditional second-round pick in the 2024 WHL Draft. He was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets 30th overall in the 2022 NHL Draft. Lambert competed for Finland at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Halifax and Moncton prior to joining the T-Birds in January.

• Seattle has outscored the Cougars 17-3 through the first three games.

• Thomas Milic earned his 21st career playoff win with a 19-save performance. In his playoff career he has 2.01 goals against average and a save percentage of .931.

• Earlier on Tuesday, NHL Central Scouting released its final rankings for the 2023 NHL Draft. Six T-Birds are on the list: Gracyn Sawchyn, Nico Myatovic, Sawyer Mynio, Jeremy Hanzel, Scott Ratzlaff and Milic. The draft will be June 28-29 in Nashville.

Kent Reporter reporter Steve Hunter contributed to this article.

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