KENT — The Seattle Thunderbirds fell behind in the WHL Championship series Tuesday night. The urgency is familiar.

“We’ve come too far to doubt our resiliency,” coach Matt O’Dette said.

The Edmonton Oil Kings used the third period to run up the score and take a 4-0 victory in Game 3, plus a 2-1 series lead at accesso ShoWare Center.

Thunderbirds goaltender Thomas Milic held the Oil Kings at bay for an extra minute when a shorthanded 2-on-0 headed his direction. Milic waited out two passes and sank into a split, a big toe pointed toward each post, as he absorbed the puck. The crowd of 6,191 gave him a wild ovation.

Matthew Rempe watched it all happen ahead of him.

“We obviously can’t give that type of opportunity up on the power play, but (Milic) has been unbelievable for us all through the playoffs,” Rempe said. “He made a huge save.”

On a far more innocent play – at least at first – Edmonton got on the board. Jakub Demek took the puck end to end, went around the defense and cruised toward Milic alone. Milic dropped and Demek put the puck into the corner to make it 1-0 Oil Kings with 2:58 left in the second period.


“I thought the first half of the game was good for us,” O’Dette said. “It was pretty tight-checking, not a lot of chances either way.

“The turning point was the goal right after our power play. That was a momentum swing for them.”

The shots were nearly even but the Thunderbirds had to get out of trouble in the series’ third straight scoreless first period. The Thunderbirds efficiently killed one penalty before captain Tyrel Bauer lost his stick while being called for holding. He had to pace in front of Milic with his hands empty for several long seconds before the Thunderbirds touched up. His teammates killed off that one, too.

Six seconds into an early third-period power play, Edmonton’s Jalen Luypen sent a no-look, through-the-legs pass to Simon Kubicek on the other side of the crease. Kubicek buried it to make it 2-0.

The Oil Kings’ Kaiden Guhle put the game away with a long shot through traffic. Carter Souch added an empty-net goal.

Milic’s stretched-out save got the loudest cheer of the night as the Thunderbirds were shut out for the first time in 22 postseason games. Sebastian Cossa recorded a 21-save shutout.

O’Dette said it’s a game to flush, and quickly. Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Kent.

“We’re capable of doing it. We’ve shown throughout the playoffs that we’re resilient,” O’Dette said.
“We have to dig deep again.”