VIRDEN, Man. – Storming back from a three-goal deficit past the midway point of the second period, saw the Thunder Bay Kings rally for a 4-3 come from behind victory over the host Southwest Cougars Thursday evening in Day 1 play at the TELUS Cup under-18 West Regional AAA championship in Virden, Man.
Thunder Bay held the edge in shots in the opening frame, but found themselves down 2-0 after one period on Cougars’ goals by Luke Mackenzie, at even strength, and Nate Robson, via the power play.
Southwest’s Jesse Brown then made it 3-0 early in the second stanza by converting on a rush and firing a shot that beat Kings netminder Nate Krawchuk.
Getting on the board at 13:35 of the frame, Thunder Bay’s Max Leduc worked a little give-and-go with teammate Kai Vanska before firing a low shot under Cougars’ goaltender Owen LaRocque from the left side.
Notching another before the intermission, the Kings pulled to within one at 18:27 thanks to E.J. Paddington, parked in front of the net, redirecting in a Zach Biniaris attempt from the right circle.
After successfully handling a pair of Southwest power plays, Thunder Bay collected the equalizer with 2:46 left in the third, as Josh Lehto powered his way down the right wing boards and got it over Keegan Jones, who fired a shot that was stopped, but Luca Ricciardi was right there to stuff in the rebound and level the proceedings and force extra time.
Skating three aside in OT, the Kings completed the rally with 1:02 remaining when Jones fed Biniaris alone in front, who was stopped on an initial opportunity, but persevered and backhanded in the game-winner and secured the triumph.
Shots on goal favoured Thunder Bay by a 37-23 count, with Krawchuk collecting the win while Ricciardi picked up player of the game laurels for his side.
Next up for the Kings will be a 6 p.m. ET match-up Friday versus the Winnipeg Wild.
Winnipeg weas edged 3-2 by the Notre Dame Hounds, the Saskatchewan U-18 title holders, in Game 1 of the event, earlier on Thursday.
The West Regional champion will advance to compete in TELUS Cup Canadian national U-18 tournament May 16-22, in Okotoks, Alta.
TELUS Cup West Regional schedule/results
@ Virden, Man.
All start times ET
Thursday, April 28
Notre Dame 3 Winnipeg 2
Thunder Bay 4 Southwest 3 (OT)
Friday, April 29
Winnipeg vs. Thunder Bay 6 p.m.
Notre Dame vs. Southwest 9 p.m.
Saturday, April 30
Thunder Bay vs. Notre Dame 1:30 p.m.
Southwest vs. Winnipeg 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 1
2nd round robin vs. 1st round robin 3 p.m.