(1090 The Fan) — The debut of a new top line paid early dividends for Seattle as it watched all three forwards score to lead the team past Brandon for a 4-2 win, Tuesday night.
Center Sam McKechnie made his Seattle debut after coming over in a trade from Lethbridge last Thursday, joining wings Erik Benoit and Seth Swenson out on the starting line. It didn’t take McKechnie long to make his presence known.
The new center scored at the 7:54 mark to stake Seattle to an early 1-0 lead. Then, in the second period, the line really started to deliver.
Swenson scored just 49 seconds in on a penalty shot after he was taken down on a breakaway. The chance came as Benoit threaded a nice pass in between two defenders as Swenson streaked down the slot. Swenson made the Wheat Kings pay when he went top shelf on goalie Jordan Papirny to give Seattle the 2-0 lead anyway.
Brandon (7-8-0-0) got on the board moments later thanks to Ryley Lindgren’s second goal of the season at 2:10. The T-Birds stretched the lead back out to two, when the third member of the premier line (Benoit), cleaned up a rebound in front of Papirny at the 4:56 mark.
Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk likes what he sees from his starting forwards.
“A big night for us from that line,” said Konowalchuk. “McKechnie was a nice addition there as well, I think he’s a more natural center (over Benoit and Swenson). I think McKechnie did a real nice job on the face-offs and made that line better.”
The comraderie wasn’t lost on the newcomer McKechnie, either.
“The two guys I’m playing with are really good players, fast and we were clicking tonight so it was nice to see,” McKechnie said.
Facing a team that it meets just one time per season, Seattle out-hustled and largely out-fought (both literally and figuratively) Brandon in front of 4,096 at the ShoWare Center.
A big moment came in the first period after T-Birds forward Jaimen Yakubowski was given a game misconduct for his check to the head of Wheat Kings’ defenseman Colton Waltz. Despite being on a 5-on-4 power play for what resulted in a three-minute major, Seattle was able to kill it off, maintaining its 1-0 lead.
That momentum carried over into the second period as Seattle quickly increased its lead to 3-1, which held until midway through the third period when the Wheat Kings cut it to 3-2 on Jens Meilleur’s third goal of the season at 13:44.
Seattle (11-3-0-2) finished strong, however, to earn its first victory over Brandon since 2008, snapping a 4-game skid against the squad based in Manitoba, Canada. Shea Theodore added the late empty-net goal to put the game safely in the win column for Seattle.
It was a physical contest throughout with the teams throwing down to fisticuffs on multiple occasions. Seattle actually lost another forward to a game misconduct in the second period when Justin Hickman fought with Wheat Kings’ defenseman Taylor Green who had leveled him in open ice earlier, leaving the team short-handed for a brief period.
“We have to play that way,” Konowalchuk said alluding to the team’s toughness. “We have to play with enthusiasm, passion and grit. Sometimes we have to answer the bell. We have a pretty big hockey team that has some skill mixed in there, but our skill doesn’t show up unless we’re physical.”
Danny Mumaugh started in net for the Thunderbirds, providing 30 saves on 32 shots.
Seattle now has a couple nights off before it hosts division rival Portland (11-3-0-1).
1. SEA Sam McKechnie 2 (Benoit, Swenson), 7:54
2. SEA Seth Swenson 8, 0:49
3. BDN Ryley Lindgren 2 (Kitt), 2:10
4. SEA Erik Benoit 3 (Swenson, Wardley), 4:56
5. BDN Jens Meilleur 3 (Lisoway, Coulter), 13:44
6. SEA Shea Theodore 7 (Henry), 19:15
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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