2023 Memorial Cup: 3 Takeaways From Seattle’s Win Over Petes

Day 2 of the 2023 Memorial Cup is finished as the Seattle Thunderbirds took care of business with a 6-3 victory over the Peterborough Petes. While the game score was close, Seattle was the better team throughout, outshooting Peterborough 40-26 while hitting double digits in shots every period. Thunderbirds goaltender Thomas Milic made 23 saves in the victory, while Petes’ goalie Michael Simpson stopped 34 of 39 shots in the loss. Here are three takeaways from the game.

History Repeats Itself on Day 2

After James Malatesta scored a hat trick for the Québec Remparts against the Kamloops Blazers on Day 1 of the tournament, history repeated itself on Day 2 as Kyle Crnkovic scored a hat trick in Seattle’s victory over Peterborough. He also was tied for the team lead with five shots on goal and was named Player of the Game for his efforts. An overager who is playing his final games in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) as he is set to age out, it looks like he is planning to go out with a bang after his performance in the Thunderbirds’ first game of the tournament.

Kyle Crnkovic Seattle Thunderbirds
Kyle Crnkovic, Seattle Thunderbirds (Candice Ward/CHL)

While Crnkovic hasn’t been known as a player who puts up massive point totals throughout his career, he has continued to show up in big moments for Seattle during this year’s playoffs. He scored the series-winner against the Kamloops Blazers in the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) West Final and provided the empty netter in Game 5 against the Winnipeg ICE during the WHL Final that sent Seattle through to the Memorial Cup. While he may not have the pedigree that most of his teammates have, he plays a key role for the Thunderbirds and showed the rest of the tournament field just how dangerous he can be.

Seattle’s Third-Period Goal Explosion

Despite outshooting the Petes, 26-18, through the first two periods, Seattle had to twice come back from a one-goal deficit and entered the third period tied at two. It looked like Simpson was on the verge of producing yet another spectacular performance, but the Thunderbirds’ persistence paid off as they scored four in the third en route to the victory. Crnkovic scored a pair, while Nolan Allen and Jordan Gustafson each recorded their firsts of the tournament as Seattle outscored Peterborough 4-1, with all goals coming after the midway mark of the third period.

Related: 2023 Memorial Cup: 3 Takeaways From Remparts’ Win Over Blazers

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A big reason behind the Thunderbirds’ success in the third is that they were able to keep the puck in the Petes’ zone for the majority of the period. They outshot Peterborough 14 to eight in the period, with only three of those shots occurring during the first 15 minutes of the period. Seattle was one of the best defensive teams in the CHL all season and demonstrated just how good they are at limiting opportunities and blocking shots when they have the lead.

Owen Beck a Positive for Peterborough

While he struggled to start the game, Montreal Canadiens’ Owen Beck ended the game as the Petes’ best player. He scored a beautiful end-to-end goal midway through the second period and finished the game going 15 for 28 in the faceoff dot. Though he only scored once, he had multiple other chances throughout the game that were either blocked or missed the net as he tried to get Peterborough back in the game during the third period.

If the Petes are going to advance in the tournament, they need Beck to produce. With most of the opposition’s focus on Peterborough’s first line of Tucker Robertson, Brennan Othmann and Avery Hayes, he needs to exploit the easier matchups and be a multi-point-per-game player. He is a leader on this Petes’ team and will need to show up against Kamloops in what has turned into a must-win game for both teams.

Day 3 Features Must-Win Game

With each team only playing three round-robin games, Day 3’s matchup between Peterborough and Kamloops has turned into a must-win for both teams. Each dropped their first game of the tournament, and while a loss does not eliminate them, it does mean they must beat either the Remparts or Seattle in order to advance to a potential tie-breaking scenario. As for the Thunderbirds, they have a day off before they face Québec in what will be the battle of the tournament favourites. The puck drop between the Blazers and Petes is set for 3 pm PST/ 6 pm EST on May 28 in what is sure to be a thrilling game from start to finish.

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