Liam Hughes made 44 saves and four different Seattle Thunderbirds scored in a 4-1 Western Hockey League win over the Kelowna Rockets at the accesso ShoWare Center on Saturday night.
Hughes and Seattle (3-1-1-0) faced a three-man advantage to end the game, with two of its players in the penalty box and Rockets goalie Roman Basran on the bench for the extra attacker. Matthew Wedman blocked several Rocket slap shots and Hughes made three key saves to get the win.
Seattle struck early in the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Nolan Volcan centered the puck in the slot to Andrej Kukuca, who put a hard wrist shot over Basran’s blocker into the top left corner of the net. It Kukuca’s first goal as a T-Bird.
Dillon Hamaliuk scored in his fifth straight game to give the T-Birds a 2-0 lead. Kukuca had the puck in the low left circle on the power play. Kukuca passed the puck to Noah Philp at the top of the left circle, and he quickly crossed the puck to Hamaliuk in the right circle. Hamaliuk one-timed the pass from Kukuca and beat Basran high at 2:54 of the second period as the goalie slid over to try and make the save.
Kelowna (1-6-0-0) cut the T-Birds’ lead to one on Kyle Topping’s power-play goal at 15:16 of the second period. Leif Mattson and Liam Kindree had the assists.
Jake Lee put the T-Birds in front 3-1 at 2:54 of the third period with a power-play goal. Lee took a slap shot from the left circle that beat Basran over the left shoulder. Philp and Graeme Bryks had the assists.
The T-Birds iced the game at 14:48 of the third when Zack Andrusiak scored on the power play. Wedman passed the puck with one hand to Andrusiak in the slot. Andrusiak beat Basran over the right shoulder. Simon Kubicek had the second assist.
Kelowna outshot Seattle 18-6 in the third period and 45-32 in the game.
Basran made 28 saves on 32 shots.
The T-Birds are back at the ShoWare Center for a 6:05 p.m. game Saturday against the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Single-game tickets are on sale online and at the ShoWare box office. Season tickets may be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.