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HomeSportsHart AttackHARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Myatovic helping Thunderbirds) May 27th, 2022 EDITION 890

HARTLEY’S HART ATTACK – (Myatovic helping Thunderbirds) May 27th, 2022 EDITION 890

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Every so often there is a surprisingly very good team that falls under the radar.

In the WHL during the 2021-22 season, that team would be the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Of the four teams remaining for the league championship, the Thunderbirds have the only player from Prince George on their roster (Nico Myatovic).

I am not sure it is fair to suggest that Seattle has snuck up on teams but the Thunderbirds have quietly (in comparison to the other contenders) gone about their business.

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In the Eastern Conference, all the hype has been around the Winnipeg Ice and Edmonton Oil Kings, who finished one-two in the overall standings and are now battling to see who advances to the league final. (Edmonton leads 3-1)

In the Western Conference, it has been far more than a two-team race.

The Everett Silvertips were tops in the regular season with 100 points but they quickly fell to the wayside as they were knocked out in round one by the 8th seeded Vancouver Giants.

With a 47-point difference in the standings, it is the biggest upset in WHL history.

The Thunderbirds (94 points) were 4th in the Western Conference and were expected to have their hands full with the #5 Kelowna Rockets (90 points) in the opening round.

It turned out to be a short series with Seattle winning in five games outscoring Kelowna by a whopping 24-10 margin.

After the Portland Winterhawks (99 points) swept the Prince George Cougars (53 points), it set up a Portland-Seattle second-round match-up.

The Winterhawks had the hottest goalie in the league in former Cougar Taylor Gauthier, and they scored more goals than any other Western team over 68 regular-season games.

Portland led 3-1 with two of those victories on the road, including 5-1 in Game 4.

How many folks gave Seattle a realistic chance at that point?

Those pesky Thunderbirds won 3-1 in Portland, 2-1 on home ice, and 6-3 in Game 7, and just like that Gauthier and the Winterhawks were out and Seattle was in the Conference final.

The Thunderbirds are the underdog again going against the B.C. Division champion Kamloops Blazers (99 points) to see who will become the Western champions. (The series is tied 2-2 with each team winning at home and on the road)

As for Myatovic, the 17-year-old 6th-round WHL draft pick in 2019, has been making a significant contribution as his confidence builds.

He is not yet a top-six forward on the team but that is coming and he has scored three huge goals in the playoffs.

While facing elimination in Portland in Game 5, he tallied the winner early in the third to snap a 1-1 tie, and then the T-Birds put the puck into an empty net to secure the victory.

For his efforts in Game 5, Myatovic was named the 3rd star.

In Game 7, again in Portland, it was Myatovic who opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal in the final minute of the first period and the Thunderbirds never looked back in that series.

Against the Blazers, he picked up an assist in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss in Game 3.

The next night (Wednesday, May 25) in Game 4, Myatovic was named the 2nd star in Seattle’s 2-1 overtime win.

Guess who scored the winner?

It was none other than #26 as Myatovic sent the hometown fans home happy with his goal at 11:16 of extra time to tie the series.

The Thunderbirds have achieved post-season success led by their goalie Thomas Milic, who has a .924 save percentage and a 2.14 GAA in 16 games.

At key times, Milic has even played better than those numbers would suggest.

The Thunderbirds do have a number of front-line scorers but never underestimate the role of support players like Myatovic.

I do not believe Seattle is going to win the WHL title as they did five years ago in 2017, however, some might suggest the Thunderbirds are playing with house money after winning two rounds.

They were just 7th out of 22 in the overall standings and remain one of four left in the running.

Whenever their run is done, young players like Myatovic will be better in the future because of that all-important playoff experience.


Taking Note:



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PGA Tour rookie Mito Pereira had a one-shot lead on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship, hit his first ball in the water, and not only lost the lead but ended up with a double-bogey to miss the playoff. Didn’t we see this in a movie featuring Kevin Costner?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson trademarked his proposed restaurant with the phrase ‘You 8 yet?’ Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield answered with ‘Hope I don’t get 6.’

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

The Yankees cut outfielder Jake Sanford — a 2019 third-round pick — for allegedly pilfering equipment from his minor-league teammates and selling it online, the Newark (New Jersey) Star-Ledger reported.  That’s one way to lead the league in steals.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times


In Case You Missed It:

Scientists at MIT claimed to have successfully removed painful memories from the minds of mice. Their next big challenge: Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie

Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).




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