Andrej Kukuca scored two goals but it wasn’t enough as the Seattle Thunderbirds fell to the Victoria Royals 5-3 in a Western Hockey League game Wednesday night at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena in British Columbia.
This was the second of back-to-back games between the two teams. The T-Birds won 5-3 on Tuesday.
Seattle (20-25-5-1) remains one point ahead of the Kamloops Blazers for the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Goalie Roddy Ross made 34 saves on 38 shots, improving to 7-3-0-1. Ross made 41 saves in Tuesday’s win.
Seattle jumped out a to 1-0 lead 47 seconds into the first period. Tyler Carpendale intercepted a Victoria pass in the neutral and the sprung Henrik Rybinski on a partial breakaway. Rybinski skated at Victoria goalie Brock Gould and put a shot on net as he was being knocked down. Rybinski’s shot beat Gould through the legs just as Rybinski crashed into the net.
Victoria (26-21-1-2) tied the game 1-1 with 2:51 left in the first period on a goal from Phillip Schultz. Scott Walford and D-Jay Jerome had the assists.
The Royals went in front 3-1 in the second period on a power-play goal by Kaid Oliver at 3:52 and a goal from Schultz at 6:27.
Kukuca cut the Royals’ lead to one goal at 4:44 of the third period. Noah Philp got the puck out of the right corner with a short pass to Tyler Carpendale. Carpendale found Kukuca in slot and he took a shot. Kukuca got his own rebound and snapped it over Gould’s right shoulder for his 15th goal of the season.
Victoria took the two-goal lead back at 4:54 of the third on a goal from Dino Kambeitz.
A high-sticking penalty on Victoria late in the third gave the T-Birds an opportunity to cut the Royals’ lead. They took advantage as Kukuca scored his second of the night, at 16:07, to make it a one-goal lead for Victoria. Philp and Matthew Wedman had the assists.
The T-Birds pulled Ross for an extra attacker with 1:57 remaining in the game. Seattle pressed the play in the Victoria zone but Schultz hit the empty net with four seconds left to seal the win for the Royals.
Victoria outshot Seattle 39-25 in the game.
Gould had 22 saves on 25 shots.
The T-Birds return to home ice Friday for a 7:35 p.m. game against Portland at the accesso ShoWare Center. They play the Medicine Hat Tigers at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, also at ShoWare.
Tickets are on sale on the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare box office.
Fans who purchase the 24-Flex Ticket Package will be able to select any available premium seat for any game, in any ticket combination, during the 2018-19 season.
First period – 1, Seattle, Rybinski 3 (Carpendale), :47. 2, Victoria, Schultz 9 (Walford, Martynov), 17:09. Penalties – Kubicek, Vic (interference), 11:49. Mount, Sea (hooking) 15:35. Prowse, Vic (holding), 17:50.
Second period – 3, Victoria, Oliver 21 (McDonald, Walford), 3:52 (pp). 4, Victoria, Schultz 10 (Gulka, Sidaway), 6:27. Penalties – Rybinski, Sea (tripping), 3:18. McNelly, Sea (major-fighting, game misconduct), 13:17. Gulka, Vic (major-fighting, game misconduct), 13:17.
Third period – 5, Seattle, Kukuca 15 (Carpendale, Philp), 4:44. 6, Victoria, Kambeitz 8 (Fizer, Walford), 4:54. 7, Seattle, Kukuca 16 (Philp, Wedman), 16:07 (pp). 8, Victoria, Schultz 11 (Prowse), 19:55 (en). Penalties – Prowse, Vic (high-sticking), 14:47.
Shots on goal – Seattle 6-10-9 25, Victoria 13-13-13 39. Goalies – Seattle, Ross 38 shots-34 saves (7-3-0-1); Victoria, Gould 25-22 (6-7-2-0). Power plays – Seattle 1-2; Victoria 2-3. A – 3,189. Referees – Brett Iverson, Trevor Nolan. Linesmen – Cole Cooke, Liam Reid.