“Just stand tall, do my best and battle right to the end.”
That’s what Pats goaltender Tyler Brown said was going through his mind during the game on Tuesday night in Seattle, and that’s exactly what he did.
Brown saved 35 of 37 shots that the Seattle Thunderbirds peppered the net with, sometimes unrelentingly, and as the pressure mounted in the third period he held firm. His team had the lead and in a difficult and evenly matched series like this one, he wasn’t about to give it up.
“He was outstanding,” said the Pats head coach John Paddock of his goaltender who earned first-star accolades for his efforts.
The win, he said, gives his team some breathing room in a series that requires them to play three games back-to-back in their opponent’s barn before returning home, if necessary, for the final two games.
“It doesn’t guarantee anything … it’s going to be a continuous battle like this, but it’s very important to get the home ice advantage back (to be) in the back of everybody’s mind.”
The Pats offensive was excellent on the powerplay Tuesday night, with Connor Hobbs netting his sixth of the playoffs to put the Pats up 1-0 early.
It didn’t take too long for Seattle to respond, however, with a powerplay goal of their own. With Hobbs in the box for tripping Alexander True slipped the puck past Brown to even the score up at one.
Next it was defenceman Chase Harrison, who hasn’t score a goal since January, who sent a shot in from near the blue line less than 15 seconds after the Seattle had tied it up.
But of course Seattle stormed back once more with a goal from Sami Moilanen who beat Brown on the wide side of the net. However, he’d be the last player to beat him for the rest of the night.
The teams went into the second period tied at two.
In the second period, the Pats saw production from the third line when Robbie Holmes scored his third of the playoffs, and the eventual game winner.
Paddock said with injuries to Adam Brooks and Austin Wagner at different points in the playoffs, he’s depended on his depth players to get them through.
“You just can’t lose the guys we lost up front and not have somebody pick it up,” Paddock said.
“These guys have scored big goals, (Holmes) and Lockner and Buziak in different parts of the Swift Current and Lethbridge series and they’ve really grown as players in the last six weeks and we needed them to,” Paddock stressed.
“If they hadn’t picked up their game or proved that they could play when we give them the opportunity we wouldn’t be here.”
The Pats went into the second intermission up 3-2, a score that would hold through penalties on both sides and even penalty shot awarded to Sam Steel that he couldn’t quick get past Seattle’s Carl Stankowski.
But the third period really belonged to Brown who stopped 18 shots including some jaw dropping reaches using reflexes a cat would envy.
Brown and the rest of the Pats will be tested again in Seattle Wednesday night.
Puck drop is 8 p.m. Saskatchewan time.