The Seattle Thunderbirds’ third goal on Tuesday night was one Curtis Honey wished he could have back.
It turns out the Brandon Wheat Kings netminder couldn’t go back in the past, but he certainly made everyone forget about it with the save he made about 10 minutes later.
Honey made 38 saves, including a spectacular, game-saving, glove-hand stop, as the Wheat Kings topped the Thunderbirds 5-3 Tuesday night at Westman Place.
With Brandon clinging to a 4-3 lead and about five minutes left in the Western Hockey League game, Honey sprawled back after a save, extended his glove and snatched a seemingly sure goal away from Thunderbirds forward Riley Sheen.
"I felt I owed my team a save, especially dating back to a couple overtime losses in my lasts appearances," said Honey, who came out on top in his first-ever game against his twin brother Connor, a Thunderbirds forward. "I didn’t want this one to slip away from us."
Plagued by slow starts recently — they hadn’t scored a first-period goal in their previous seven games — the Wheat Kings jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Jens Meilleur and Tyrel Seaman. Alessio Bertaggia had an empty-net goal and two assists for Brandon, while John Quenneville and Eric Roy rounded out the scoring for the Wheat Kings (9-7-2-1).
"That’s the start that we need," Meilleur said. "We’ve got to get all four lines firing out there and all the ‘D’ pairings and Honey was on his game tonight. But we’ve got to keep that for 60 minutes."
Meilleur (10 games) and Seaman (16 games) both broke out of lengthy goal-scoring droughts. Seaman said some of the credit should go to the return of Jason Swyripa, who was back in the lineup after missing eight games with a wrist injury.
"To get Swyripa back, it’s another addition up front there, it just helps out everyone," said Seaman, whose goal was set up on a nice passing play with Swyripa and Nick Buonassisi after the line forced a turnover in the Seattle end. "… Buono made a nice pass to (Swyripa) and a perfect pass from him to me and I found the net. It’s a good play by them two to work the puck down low and move it up to the high guy."
Thunderbirds goalie Brandon Glover, who played for the Calgary Hitmen against the Wheat Kings in last season’s playoffs, stopped a Meilleur penalty shot late in the first period, but Brandon continued to stretch the lead early in the second, with Quenneville making it 3-0 before Seattle pushed back.
Sheen and Roy traded goals in the second period before Luke Lockhart scored with 0.1 seconds left in the frame. Connor Sanvido snapped a shot past Honey early in the third period as the Thunderbirds (8-8-1-0) whittled a three-goal deficit down to one before the Wheat Kings goaltender shut the door.
"We should have never been in that situation, but give Curtis credit, he made the big save and gave us the win," said Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk, whose team hosts the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night. "That’s the biggest thing, but we’ve got to learn how we have to play. When you’re up 3-0 in the Western Hockey League, even 3-1, you should be able to play a better team game than we did tonight. We’ve got to take a step and learn from it."
ONE-TIMERS: Attendance was 3,623 … Seattle D Jared Hauf was given an interference major after levelling Brandon RW Jayce Hawryluk with 45 seconds left. Hawryluk went to the dressing room under his own power, but his status was unknown after the game … D Rene Hunter returned after missing two games with a leg injury, while Brandon scratched LW Richard Nejezchleb (shoulder, 1-2 weeks), D Ayrton Nikkel (sick), C Kord Pankewicz and D Riley Van Horne … Ex-Brandon C Brendan Rouse assisted on Seattle’s third goal.