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Crnkovic nets three, Thunderbirds beat Petes at Memorial Cup

Seattle Thunderbirds Seattle Thunderbirds - The Canadian Press

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The Seattle Thunderbirds, no stranger to winning crucial games at the Sandman Centre this season, won another one big one Saturday by defeating the Peterborough Petes 6-3 in the Memorial Cup opener for both teams.

The Western Hockey League champion Thunderbirds, who won twice in Kamloops earlier this month to beat the Blazers and win the Western Conference final, fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 to the Ontario Hockey League champions, but refused to quit.

J.R. Avon gave the Petes a 1-0 lead at 1:24 of the first period. Lucas Ciona tied the game 39 seconds into the second period, before Owen Beck put the Petes back up 2-1 at 15:53. Less than a minute later Kyle Crnkovic tied it at 2-2.

Crnkovic's second goal of the game, 10 minutes into the third period, gave Seattle a 3-2 lead, and Nolan Allan made it 4-2 at 11:22.

Avery Hayes pulled Peterborough within one with a power-play goal at 13:56 but that's as close as the Petes got as Jordan Gustafson scored at 16:45 to make it 5-3, and Crnkovic iced it with his third goal — a short-handed effort into an empty net at 18:26.

The Thunderbirds outshot the Petes 40-26 and went 0-for-2 on the power play. The Petes went 1-for-2 with the man advantage.

POKE CHECKS: The host Kamloops Blazers, beaten 8-3 on Friday by the QMJHL champion Quebec Remparts, play the Petes on Sunday (6 p.m., ET) in a battle of 0-1 teams. The T-Birds face the Remparts on Monday (9 p.m., ET) in a clash of 1-0 squads.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2023.