KENT — It might have trickled in like it was in slow motion, but it is a highlight-reel goal in Mathew Barzal’s mind.
Early in overtime, Barzal took a pass from Justin Hickman, skated slowly and confidently around the goal and then put a shot on the net that slowly, agonizingly went through a sea of bodies and into the net just before it stopped on its own.
Barzal fell to the ice, but managed to see the dagger to the hearts of the Everett Silvertips go in.
Barzal’s goal, his first of the playoffs, gave the Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 victory and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round Western Hockey League playoff series.
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The Silvertips, who led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in this game, must win at home Friday for the series to continue.
“I came around the net and we’ve been stressing getting shots on net all series, so I threw one at the net and I don’t know if it hit someone or what,” Barzal said with a guilty smile.
The No. 1 overall choice in the bantam draft a few years ago, Barzal is a rookie who has played like a veteran all season, and no one in the crowd of 5,176 was surprised when he was the one to score the winner.
“It was exciting and we’re just really glad to come out with a W,” Barzal said. “To be honest, I think 9 (Justin Hickman) touched it, but even if he didn’t it’s memorable for me and if he scored it still is good as long as we won.”
Barzal managed to turn just in time to see the puck go in.
“I kind of fell and all the guys kind of jumped on me and it was funny,” Barzal said.
Even though the T-birds are up 3-0, recent history will tell them the series isn’t over. Last year, the T-birds led Kelowna 3-0 only to lose four in a row and be bounced out of the playoffs.
“They always play us tough, and full credit to them,” Barzal said. “We had one of our stronger games of the series, and they managed to send it to overtime.”
Barzal, who is from Coquitlam, B.C., showed why he was that top draft choice and a player many feel could also be the same selection when he is eligible for the NHL draft.