Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome captained the Erie Otters to their first win 4-2 over the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds in their first game of the 2017 Memorial Cup.
The first period was quiet on the goal-scoring front with the Otters and the Thunderbirds trading quality chances and penalties. Dylan Strome had 3 close shots on goal in the period, while Seattle kept his linemate and leading OHL regular season scorer Alex Debrincat without a shot, but neither team capitalized. The period ended with Erie and Seattle tied at zero, Erie leading the shots on goal 12-8.
There was a change of tide in the second, Erie burst out of the gate with a flurry of chances on Seattle’s rookie goaltender, Carl Stankowski. The Otters first goal of the period would come on the power play, executed by none other than Debrincat (Kyle Pettit, Warren Foegele). Seattle would get one back just over 3 minutes later to tie it up 1-1. Erie put on the pressure again, keeping the puck in Seattle’s end and it paid off, with Jordan Sambrook (Taylor Raddysh, Erik Cernak) putting the Otters in the lead once again 2-1.
The Thunderbirds would answer back with a huge goal to tie it up 2-2, Austin Strand (Matthew Barzal, Ryan Gropp) ripping it over the shoulder of Troy Timpano. The second period ended with the teams tied at 2-2, SOG 17-6 for the period and 29-14 through two, both in favor of Erie.
The Otters once again held dominance in the third period right from the start, with Dylan Strome (Taylor Raddysh, Alex DeBrincat) scoring only 1:36 into the period. This would eventually be the game-winner.
Again, the rest of third was spent with both teams taking quality chances on net, both Timpano and Stankowski standing tall for their respective teams. With less than 3 minutes left, Seattle pulled their goalie for the extra attacker but the Otters’ offense advanced, with Christian Girhiny (Anthony Cirelli, Kyle Maksimovich) scoring the empty net insurance goal to put Erie up 4-2.
The Erie Otters defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 4-2 and win their first game in the Memorial Cup since 2002, final SOG 35-20 in favor of Erie.
Dylan Strome finished the game with 1 G, 5 SOG, a 63% faceoff win percentage (17/27).
The Erie Otters take on the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs on Monday 4 PM MST.
Post-Game Q & A with Dylan Strome
Strome on Barzal: We were lucky to keep him to one assist tonight.
Q: Between you, Barzal, and Chabot, that’s all of Team Canada's leaders. Do you think that's a coincidence?
Strome: I think we were leaders on team Canada for a reason, we’re the kind of leaders that players like and listen to. Chabot and Barzal were in the playoffs for a reason, and they have great teams around them. Chabot plays a ton of minutes, a ton of ice time, Barzal loves to have the puck on his stick. People follow players like that for a reason.
Q: In a short tournament like this, you know how important getting the win in the first game is.
Strome: It’s huge. We needed that win. Moments were a little intense, and we got some big blocked shots from Cernak, we needed those kinds of efforts. Looking forward to Saint Johns.
Q: Talk about your goal.
Strome: Saw a nice pass to DeBrincat from Raddysh, I saw him going up the wall, I think he wanted to pass it early and I think Seattle’s D were great all night on a two on one. I think it was Ottenbreit who made a great play and slid there, and we reached around him. I stopped in front of the net, we had discussed it earlier with the coaches, I stopped and it was right there and took a backhanded whack at it.
Q: Did anything about the game surprise you?
Strome: I thought it was going to be a little more physical, the WHL is known for its physicality, and I don’t think it was as physical as I was expecting, but it was a great hockey game.
Q: Is there going to be more of an emphasis on protecting leads in the future?
Strome: For sure, we have had a lot of better leads, we scored two goals this game and right away they scored after us. For whatever reason, we’ve got to figure it out and have better shifts after we score a goal.
Q: How does the team adjust looking forward to Saint John in the next game?
Strome: We put this one behind us, and watch some video, and adjust some things. Saint John is a completely different team, and they’re going to be feisty after their game one loss.