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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Tbirds can't catch Warriors from behind...

Seattle falls tonight 3-2 at home to the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Seattle fell behind 3-0 after a lack luster 1st period.

I didn't really feel that the effort was horrible in the 1st, but Seattle clearly had troubles in front of their own net and slot area.

Frazer McLaren opened the scoring on a Power Play goal from the mid slot area. Jacob DeSerres might want another crack at that shot, though it was quick and well placed inside the gloveside post.

Moose Jaw then scored two goals from close range separated by exactly 5 minutes. The second of which came on a nice effort by Giffen Nyren to get around Brendan Dillon and make the cross slot pass to Joel Broda for the 3-0 lead headed into the break.

Seattle dominated the 2nd and 3rd periods but couldn't quite catch the breaks they needed to catch Moose Jaw.

Seattle opened the scoring on a mistake by MJ goaltender Joey Perricone who attempted to play a puck in the low slot only to have Lindsey Nielsen shove it right back over his shoulder and off the back bar. That goal came at :23 seconds of the 2nd period and was exactly what the Tbirds needed.

Unfortunately, despite hitting two posts on their 17 shots in the 2nd period, Seattle was not able to score again and proved to be the difference.

Jeremy Boyer pounded home a rebound off an Ian McKenzie slap shot with just over 8 minutes to play in the game. For Boyer (and Nielsen) it was his 10th goal of the season.

Seattle continued to pound the net over and over again and Perricone just wouldn't give up the tying goal.

Perricone finished with 40 saves on 42 shots and even though I though on several occasions he was more lucky than good he was still overall very solid in net for the Jaw.

Jacob DeSerres ended with 21 saves on 24 shots and took the loss.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game (I actually agree with the in Arena stars).

1. Joey Perricone
2. Joel Broda
3. Lindsey Nielsen

Honorable Mention: Benn Olsen (again +2 but where was the fight with McLaren?)

Seattle falls to 16-12-6 which is 7th in the Western Conference on points but 5th in the conference in point percentage.


Seattle goaltenders are on fire...

After Jacob DeSerres posted the 3-0 shutout over Everett last night at Key Arena.... Riku Helenius has a relatively light 15 save shutout today for Finland over Kazakhstan.

Finland won the game 5-0.

More thoughts from last nights win

-Jacob DeSerres looked very comfortable in net and I thought the Seattle D did a really nice job of limiting the type of shots that Everett was able to get. The did generate 28 shots but most were limited to the outside and when DeSerres was not able to hold the rebound the D did a great job of getting the puck out.

-I know there tends to be some negative backlash towards Scott Jackson but I have to point out again how solid the D unit is with him back in the lineup. Even without Captain Thomas Hickey the D was able to put together a pretty solid outing and earned the shutout. Seattle is 6-2-1 since Jackson returned to the lineup.

-Wait Jeremy Schappert has been gone? He looked like he had not missed a beat and played very well in his season debut. The D core gets even stronger and older with Schappert back in the lineup and bodes very well provided that he can finally stay healthy.

-Considering that Seattle was without 4 players and Everett has their full lineup available I thought this game was dominated by Seattle.

-Greg Scott played his tail off and really deserved a star of the game.

-If that goal by Prab Rai isn't in the top 5 plays of the week, I'd love to see 5 better.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. Jacob DeSerres
2. Greg Scott
3. Prab Rai

Honorable mention: Sena Acolatse (2 assists), Benn Olson (1 fight, +2 and is now +11 on the season and 4th on the team)

Seattle vs. Everett Recap

Seattle wins 3-0 behind 28 saves by Jacob DeSerres.

I got in late last night and I am up early this morning so I will give more thoughts later.

I can now report what I have known for about a week and a half now since Gregg Drinnan has broken the story on his blog (link you can find to the right). Many of you noticed that Josh Schappert was missing from the lineup tonight and is at home in Winnipeg and has asked to be traded.

The 18 year old Schappert had 4 goals and 4 assists in 22 games and had only just recently come back from a back injury.


Flurry of news today....

Seattle has also added Brad Haber to the active roster for tonight's game according to

Haber has been playing for the Hope Icebreakers and he is 17 years old. His player profile can be found here

He has 4 goals and 3 assists in 18 games for Hope. Haber was a participant in Seattle's main pre-season camp this year. He is listed as both a D and a F in different places so we'll have to wait and see where he ends up.

Riku Update

Helenius got the win in the shootout yesterday helping Finland get a 4-3 win over the Swiss. Riku made 25 saves on 28 shots. I found this picture from the game.

Josh Lazowski reassigned

Lazowski was reassigned to the Midget AAA team in Leduc, Alberta. Of course there was no announcement of this by the Thunderbirds so this comes from Gregg Drinnan's blog.

This is not the roster move I believe is on the horizon.


Moves coming

I have it on a good source there will be some roster movement in the very near future.

Stay tuned...

2nd half begins

As many of you know the WHL is back in action tonight with 4 games on the slate. Seattle obviously is not in one of those games and returns to action tomorrow night against Everett at Key Arena.

The Tbirds catch a little bit of an early scheduling break as Everett has to play tonight in Tri Cities against the Americans and return to Seattle for the game Friday night while Seattle rests at home.

In addition Seattle then gets Saturday off and waits for Moose Jaw to come in for a Sunday 5:05 game.

Seattle will be without Thomas Hickey and Riku Helenius and I would imagine Jacob DeSerres will get both starts this weekend with a slight chance that Calvin Pickard gets Sunday's start.


Merry Christmas/Boxing Day, etc.

Happy Holidays to everyone. Just a quick post tonight... Thomas Hickey had two assists for Team Canada in their last tune up game before the World Juniors are set to begin.

The link to the box score can be found here...


Seattle adds Calvin Pickard

Seattle has added Calvin Pickard to the active roster. I would think that they would bring him to Seattle to play in a game or two and serve as the backup to Jacob DeSerres. I don't think you add a 15 year old goaltender to the roster unless you intend to use him at least a little bit. Although not official I wouldn't think Seattle would carry 3 goaltenders meaning that Harrison May is likely out again (at least he played a little bit this time around).

Pickard looked very good in training camp and appears to have a bright future in the WHL. His play was very calm and stable throughout with very little wasted motion and a nice glove. Interesting to see how it translates in a few games of action. Being a 15 year old, Pickard would only be able to play in 5 games at the most.

Seattle returns to action at home vs. Everett on Friday the 28th and on Sunday vs. the Moose Jaw Warriors for their only visit to town before hitting the road for their annual New Years Eve game in Portland against the Winterhawks.


Formal Congrats to Riku

Even though we all thought this would likely happen... Officially Riku Helenius has been named to Team Finland. Congratulations to Riku for making the team. Jacob DeSerres will serve as Seattle's #1 goalie until Helenius returns and Seattle has to be pretty happy that they have a goaltender of his quality able to step in.

Juuso Puustinen who beat Helenius with that ridiculous move ( early in the season also made the team.

Roster here...


Seattle heads to the Winter Break with a big win...

Tbirds get the 8-3 victory tonight over the Swift Current Broncos. Greg Scott explodes for 3 goals and 2 assists while Bud Holloway gets 2 goals and 3 assists.

This marks the highest offense output of the season for Seattle on the night after they were shutout for the 4th time this season.

Greg Scott is the 1st star with the hat trick and 5 points and Holloway gets the 2nd star with 5 points on 2 goals. Jim O'Brien gets somewhat lost in the explosion but managed to score his 5th and 6th goals of the year in the win.

Brenden Silvester received an Elbowing Major penalty in the 1st period and with it came a Game Misconduct. We'll see if the 16 year old is suspended further.

Seattle moves to 15-11-6 on the season which is good for 36 points and a tie for 3rd place in the US Division with Everett. They also have 3 games in hand on the Silvertips. With a winning % of .562 Seattle moves into 5th place in the conference ahead of the Chilliwack Bruins and behind the Kelowna Rockets at .622.


Seattle at Spokane Review

If you had told me before tonight's game that the final score was 1-0, I would have told you that I thought Seattle had won. Instead Spokane skates off with the 1-0 victory tonight.

Jacob DeSerres played well in net tonight but was outdone by Dustin Tokarski who shutout the TBirds for the third time this season.

Tokarski clearly owns Seattle and deserved the 1st star tonight as he made 21 saves for the victory to improve his record to 13-2. 3 of his 4 shutouts this year have come against Seattle and all have come in Spokane.

The lone Spokane goal tonight was scored by Chris Bruton the Chief captain, it was a Power Play goal in the 1st period from assists by Roman and Wahl.

DeSerres makes 24 saves on 25 shots for the game to get the 2nd star and Bruton with the game winner gets the 3rd.

Seattle falls to 14-11-6 and heads home to face the Swift Current Broncos tomorrow night at the Key before the Winter Break.

Swift Current comes in at 18-13-5 and Seattle badly needs a win heading into the break to regain some lost momentum here tonight in Spokane.

Quick Friday Preview

-Seattle is in Spokane tonight to take on a very talented Chiefs team that is missing no one to international tournaments. Seattle will be missing Thomas Hickey and Riku Helenius.

-Nobody can really replace Hickey and that could prove to be the difference in the game tonight. Helenius is a very talented goaltender but Jacob DeSerres is a very capable backup and Seattle doesn't lose much or anything with him in net.

-Considering the losses I really would not expect Seattle to win tonight on the road against a team that has lost only 1 game at home all season.

-Seattle has added goaltender Harrison May to the roster to back up DeSerres. May has been on the active Seattle roster on a couple of occasions but has never played in a game for the Thunderbirds.

-Tonight's prediction: Spokane is just too talented on offence and Drayson Bowman is on fire... Spokane 4 Seattle 1


Team Canada

Not surprising that Thomas Hickey was named to the Canadian Junior National Team. You can find the link to the story here

Zach Hamill and Leland Irving from the Everett Silvertips were cut and sent back to Everett.


Bryan Bridges update (again)

I spoke with Bryan Bridges yesterday and he gave me an update on his status with the Colorado Eagles.

"I'm schedule to play this upcoming weekend. I've been practicing with them for about a month now. The visa process took almost three weeks." Bridges said. "Things are going well here in Colorado for me. We have a very good team and are looking to repeat last year's success by bringing home the cup."


Seattle scores in the final 15 seconds and sweeps the weekend!

Bud Holloway cashes in a rebound with 15 seconds left in regulation sending Seattle to the overtime period where they managed to win a shootout for the second time in a row.

Greg Scott scored the only goal of the shootout and Riku Helenius stopped all three Chilliwack shooters to earn the extra point.

Chilliwack led 1-0 on a goal by defencemen Dylan Chapman. Chapman fired a puck toward the Seattle net that hit a Tbird player in front and redirected through Helenius' 5 hole for the lead. The goal was Chapman's first of the season.

Seattle answered with Greg Scott pushing home a rebound from behind Bruin goaltender Matt Esposito. Brenden Dillon put a shot wide of the net that Holloway was able to get a slight piece of to direct behind Esposito where Scott finished it off.

WHL scoring leader Mark Santorelli then gave Chilliwack the lead back when he fired in a shot low and off the post past Helenius only 32 seconds into the 2nd period. The goal was a Power Play goal and was Santorelli's 18th of the year.

Seattle answered again as Ian Mckenzie was able to push the puck into the net on another puck that was able to get behind Esposito. This time Scott was able to put a pass from the left corner back through the legs of Esposito where Mac's quick hands flicked the puck into the net. The goal was a Power Play goal and his 8th of the season.

The Bruins took the lead again on a helper from Santorelli to Pighin over the shoulder of Helenius for the 3-2 lead.

Seattle was then able to get the equalizer with Holloway stuffing home a rebound on a nice shot by David Richard. The scoresheet gives credit to Lindsey Nielsen for the second assist but I would swear the pass came from Hickey. Either way Seattle gets earns the first point getting the game to Overtime before Scott picks up the second point in the shootout.

Helenius stops 16/19 for the win and Matt Esposito stopped 34/37 in the loss.

I though Seattle got what they deserved in this game as they outshot and out chanced the Bruins for most of the game. Chilliwack was able to convert their chances and certainly had the better goaltender on the night. In the end Seattle picks up two points and earns 6 out of 6 possible for the weekend and pulls into a tie for 3rd place in the U.S. Division and 6th in the Western Conference in points.

By point percentage Seattle leads both Everett and Chilliwack and would be 5th in the conference.

These points become very critical for the rest of the season as Seattle tries to get to 4th position in the West to earn home ice advantage in the first round and also avoid the big 3 teams in the West in Spokane, Vancouver and Tri-City.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. Greg Scott - A goal and an assist for Scott and also converts the game winner in the "circus" for the extra point.
2. Matt Esposito - Solid in goal for Chilliwack and was the reason the Bruins had the lead for most of the night.
3. Bud Holloway - 2 points and the GTG for Bud tonight.

Honorable Mention - Mark Santorelli, Lindsey Nielsen, Dylan Chapman and Cody Hobbs

In the Rink:

1. Bud Holloway
2. Matt Esposito
3. Greg Scott

Seattle vs. Portland Recap

Seattle drops Portland tonight 7-1 and take care of business against a bad team on home ice. I wanted badly to give Portland a little credit for playing better lately but tonight's game leaves me no room for anything other than criticism. Portland was flat outplayed, outworked and just seemed not to care about the outcome of the game after falling behind in the first period.

I can't remember seeing a Seattle game where a Tbird player skated around defencemen and onto goal as many times as I did tonight. Portland either needs to dramatically improve their skating OR they simply didn't care tonight.

Kurtis Mucha, I believe, is a fine goaltender who is stuck in a bad situation and simply had a poor night tonight.

Seattle got on the board with a goal by Ian Mckenzie only 2:23 into the 1st period. Mac scores for the second night in a row.

Travis Ehrhardt tied the game at 1-1 at the 10:15 mark of the 1st, but it didn't last long as Lindsey Nielsen scored into an open net as Mucha mishandled a clearing attempt.

Bud Holloway cashed in a Power Play by banking home a shot from the sharp angle through the legs of Mucha who to that point had only stopped 5 of the 8 Seattle shots.

Seattle then took a 4-1 one and eventually chased Mucha on a nice helper from Josh Schappert to David Richard with just under a minute to play in the 1st. Mucha did not return after the 1st intermission having stopped 6 of 10 Tbird shots.

Jordan White took his time getting antiquated with the hockey game as he was beaten by Jim O'Brien on the first shot of the 2nd period. O'Brien beat White over the glove side with a slapper. It must be very difficult to come into a game ice cold after sitting on the bench for a period and White showed the effects.

Brenden Dillon then scored his 1st career WHL goal converting a Power Play goal with a slapper to give Seattle a 6-1 lead. Dillon's shot also beat White high on the glove side.

Prab Rai "finally" scored this season... haha giving Seattle a 7-1 lead with under 2 minutes to play in the 2nd frame. Rai simple took the puck in the Seattle side of the center line and used his speed to outskate the Portland defence down the left side before ripping a wrister off the post and into the net over White's glove side again. Prab now has 1 goal to go with his team leading 19 assists.

On a short side note... can you believe how little we gave up to get this guy? How did he not stick in PG???

White actually settled down nicely to post a very solid 3rd period and the game ended 7-1 for Seattle. White ended stopping 24/27 shots while Mucha took the loss. Jacob DeSerres was lost in the barrage of scoring but stopped 24/25 for the win and improved to 6-3.

Seattle looks for the 3 in 3 weekend tomorrow evening as they play host to the Chilliwack Bruins.

Let's Go Birds Blog Three Stars of the Game:

1. Prab Rai - This is more for the season effort but Prab collects another 2 assists and finally gets his first goal.

2. David Richard - Nice to see Richy collect three points including a goal off a nice feed from Schappert.

3. Benn Olsen - Olsen is a +3 for the second night in a row, including some PP work and a fight in the 3rd. Gotta give the big man some props.

Honorable Mention - Brenden Dillon, 1st WHL goal. Jordan White, 24/27 saves in a tough spot off the bench. Jacob DeSerres, lost in the mix but solid for the win. Ian McKenzie, for getting Seattle off the fast start for the 2nd night in a row. O'Brien, Boyer... etc... the whole team played well.

In the Arena:

1. David Richard
2. Prab Rai
3. Brenden Dillon


Seattle at Portland Recap

Tbirds win tonight 4-0 over the cellar dwelling Winterhawks. It isn't really fair to slap that label on them since they have played better of late and show signs of improvement. Fact of the matter is that Portland is now 5-24 and Seattle cannot afford to be losing games to them.

Tbirds were paced by Bud Holloway who nets a goal and an assist but also posts a +2. Benn Olsen gets a shout out for the +3 effort.

Seattle was awarded 9 Power Plays for the night but was not able to cash in on any of them. Portland, meanwhile, only had 2 chances (Derek Zalaski was the referee, although based solely on the shots on goal the game could have been called quite well) Neither team has a good Power Play and predictable neither did any damage.

The Tbirds were able to put a lot of pressure on Winterhawk goaltender Jordan White (getting the surprise start over Mucha who I expect to see tomorrow in Seattle). The Tbirds took 50! shots on goal (surpassing the 30+ I had set as a goal) and were able to convert 4 of those 50 shots.

Ian McKenzie got Seattle on the board in the 1st. Jan Eberle made it 2-0 in the 2nd on an assist from Prab Rai who leads the team in that department but still has 0 goals on the season.

Greg Scott put the Tbirds up 3-0 early in the 3rd period and Seattle had the margin it was looking for through 45 minutes.

Bud Holloway finished the scoring in the 3rd for the final 4-0 score.

With the victory Seattle moves to 12-10-6 good for 30 points, which trails Everett by 4 points but keep them ahead on Pt. % at .536 to Everett's .531.

Seattle hosts Portland Saturday night at the Key and Chilliwack Sunday afternoon after the Seahawks game at 5:05.

One additional note... there isn't much to see yet but since I'm sure everyone is as excited as I am about the new Kent Event Center, I will post the link to the October time lapse video of the construction. Not sure it they will post a November and December and following months but I will keep on the lookout. mms://


Seattle at Portland Preview

I posted the relevant stats earlier this week, so I won't re-post them here but will provide what I think are the keys to the game tonight.

Seattle takes the long road to Portland tonight due to the I-5 closure and it was reported by TB that the team left for Portland yesterday to avoid any delays. The Winterhawks come into the game with a record of 5-23 but have played a little better of late having won 2 of their last 10 (can't believe I just wrote that last sentence). The last time Seattle faced Portland you needed to keep the roster nearby to keep track of all the new players that Portland traded for.

18 year old Travis Ehrhardt leads the Winterhawks with 20 points on 6 goals. Ehrhardt has 8 points on 3 goals in the 10 games he has played since coming over in a trade from Moose Jaw.

Kurtis Mucha is clearly the MVP of this squad having stopped 90.9% of the many shots he has faced for a record of 4-14 and a 3.72 GAA. Mucha has faced an unbelievable 38.33 shots per contest and has averaged 34.83 saves per game on those shots.

Keys to the Game:

1. Score early. Though Seattle was able to score early against the Americans on Tuesday and were not able to hold the lead, they would be in much better shape by scoring early and often on this struggling Portland team. The last thing you want to do is allow a team that is struggling to keep the score close and especially at home.

2. Shot selection. Mucha obviously faces a ton of shots and getting 30+ will be important to a Seattle win, but Mucha is a very solid goaltender and Seattle cannot get trapped into a sense of just putting shots on goal in order to win. Those shots need to come from dangerous locations on the ice (low slot and middle) in order to score more than once or twice on those 30+ shots.

3. Special Teams (as always). Portland is downright terrible on the Power Play... in fact they are the only team worse than Seattle with the man advantage. Portland ranks 20th in the WHL in killing penalties at home and Seattle must find a way to win the Special Teams battle in order to win.

Goals -
1. Lead after 1st and 2nd period
2. 30+ Shots
3. More PP goals than Portland


Wednesday Afternoon Update

Alan Caldwell has a great post today that outlines the players that will miss time for each of the Junior Championships. You can find it here

Interesting to note that as of this moment Riku Helenius has not been invited to Team Finland's camp. I would expect that to change. It would seem to me that if Finland can find 3 or 4 junior goaltenders better than Riku... I would be very surprised. If that is indeed true, what a nice break for the Thunderbirds as they would be able to keep both of their two goaltenders throughout the holiday season, something that is desperately needed considering the number of shots being surrendered.

Seattle loses in Overtime

Tbirds lose in Overtime tonight. A terribly disappointing loss for Seattle as they held the 2-0 lead in the 2nd period only to allow the Ams to tie the game at 2-2 in the 3rd and win the game on an Overtime Power Play 1:47 into the extra frame.

Josh Schappert got Seattle on the board in the 1st period redirecting a Jan Eberle pass into the American net for the 1-0 lead. Greg Scott got the second assist on the goal.

Scott then gave the Tbirds a 2-0 lead when Lindsey Nielsen won the faceoff towards the left hashmark where Scott ripped a wrister over the glove of TC goaltender Chet Pickard.

But the Americans cut the lead in half on a goal by TJ Fast with just over 4 minutes remaining in the game... and Colton Yellowhorn was able to tie the game on a 5-3 Power Play goal just 3 minutes into the 3rd period.

The game went to OT with Seattle getting outshot again 36-22. Kruise Reddick then tipped a TJ Fast shot past Helenius at 1:47 of the Overtime period for the win. Coach Rob Sumner was assessed a Game Misconduct following the game winning goal. This has been the story far too many times for Seattle this season, as they have been regularly giving up 30+ shots in their losses. Goaltender Riku Helenius was busy again tonight finishing with 34 saves on 37 shots.

Seattle heads to Portland Friday night before returning to Seattle to face the Winterhawks on Saturday, followed by the Chilliwack Bruins on Sunday evening.


Bryan Bridges update

About three weeks ago Bridges (still currently the WHL Shutouts record holder) was signed by the Colorado Eagles of the CHL Bridges has been practicing with the team but has yet to appear in a game due to Visa issues.

I don't know much about how the Visa process works, but I wonder how long it will be until he is cleared to play.

Colorado is the defending Ray Miron President's Cup champion in the CHL.


Monday Morning Stats Check

Before Seattle hosts Tri-City tomorrow night.... let's get an update on a bunch of stats after 26 games.

Record: 11-10-5, 27 pts, .519. 4th in U.S. Division, 8th in Western Conference.

Home: 7-2-3, 17 pts, .708, 40 Goals For - 32 Goals Against

Away: 4-8-2, 10 pts, .357, 24 Goals For - 38 Goals Against

Overtime Games: 1 Shootout win, 1 Shootout loss, 4 Overtime losses

Power Play: 20/166, 12.0%, 21st in the WHL

Penalty Killing: 51/60, 85.0%, 8th in the WHL

Penalty Minutes: 463 PIM's in 26 games, 17.8 PIM's per game, 15th in the WHL. 6 Bench minor minutes. (note: Everett leads the league with 16 bench minor minutes)

Longest Streaks:
Wins - 2
Undefeated - 2
Losses - 2
Winless - 2 (yawn)


Seattle at Tri-City Recap

I honestly missed this entire game due to a holiday party so I can't give you much of an opinion. I think one thing we know from this game is that Tri-City is better than Everett at home and has a lot more scoring power.

I will point towards the Seattle website for a recap of the game.



I'm sure many of you read that Kyle Beach was a healthy scratch last night for "internal" disciplinary reasons. One can only guess what that means...


Cowbells? I got your Cowbell right here buddy...

and that is exactly what the Tbirds said to Everett tonight as they go into the Comcast Arena and pick up a big 2-1 victory over the Silvertips.

Not the most impressive victory of all time for Seattle but considering the circumstances and the fact that Everett handed out some 1,000 additional cowbells for tonight's game, it was a very good win for this club.

I know a lot of people have issues with Scott Jackson... but I honestly can't figure out why. Jackson returns tonight and not only scores the game winner but helps hold Everett to only 18 shots and a 2-1 victory. Coincidence? I honestly don't think so... I'm not sure why everyone keeps waiting for the offense of Thomas Hickey to come pouring out of the stick of Scott Jackson. He is a blueline, stay at home, solidly physical defensemen.

Coaches say that the best penalty killer is their goaltender and I think a great example of that was tonight's game. Riku Helenius was only asked to make 11 saves tonight (a really light night by his usual standards) but was able to make several huge saves in the last 5 minutes of the game when Everett had a couple of Power Play opportunities.

No Kyle Beach tonight and that obviously makes a big difference for Everett... I didn't hear exactly why and I'll try to find out.

Three Stars in the building:

1. Scott Jackson
2. Shane Harper
3. Bud Holloway

Seattle moves to 11-9-5 with their 3rd win in a row and pulls to within 3 points of Everett with 4 games in hand. On a percentage basis the Thunderbirds move into 5th place in the Conference, which just shows how a winning streak can move you up the ladder quickly. By points they are sill in 8th... so they need to continue earning points in order to take advantage of the games in hand.

Panchyson update

The WHL has an "X" by Panchyson's name in the team statistics and that designation is usually reserved for players who are no longer on the active roster as Brad Bakken and Andre Herman also both have the "X" by their names.

One would have to say that is as close to confirmation that we will get on Panchyson since Seattle has (in my opinion) a horrible habit of not releasing any information about these sort of things.

Seattle at Everett Preview

Just a short preview tonight. Seattle goes for its second win in a row over the Silvertips tonight. It will be a tall order coming up with a win in the Comcast Arena tonight (the cable box) as Everett has decided to hand out a few thousand "extra" cowbells tonight before the game.

As in most Seattle games this year the outcome will likely come down to shots on goal and the special teams units.

Everett is surprisingly not great on the Power Play at home, something that has been their trademark in the past several years. Everett ranks 12th on the PP at home (certainly not horrible) scoring 17 times in 90 chances (18.9%). That does rank in the top 7 in PP chances at home. Seattle must stay out of the penalty box tonight in order to win.

Seattle is horrible on the PP in opposing teams buildings ranking 20th in the league going 7 for 75 (9.3%). This fact is pretty much a non-factor in the ball game unless Seattle manages a couple of PP goals, which should signal a win.

In addition, Everett is excellent at killing the PP while at home having surrendered only 10 power play goals in 80 chances (87.5%). I wouldn't expect much from the Seattle PP tonight.

Seattle ranks 9th in killing penalties on the road having surrendered 12 goals in 69 chances on the road (82.6%). These numbers have slipped since Scott Jackson was injured, seeing Seattle fall from the top 3 in overall Penalty Kill to 8th in the WHL.

-Jackson is a hot button issue for a lot of fans, but the fact is that this team has not played well since he went down with the high ankle sprain. Signs have pointed to Jackson returning for tonight's game and Todd Panchyson being released. However... Seattle has not issued any kind of press release and as I am writing this Panchyson is still listed on the Seattle roster.

-Who starts in goal tonight for Seattle?? Well I guess that might be up in the air. I would expect the older Helenius to be back in net for Seattle, but Jacob DeSerres has been very good lately and beat Everett in the shootout last weekend in Seattle. My guess... is still Helenius.

-Seattle is lead by Bud Holloway who has taken over the team lead in points with 10 goals, 11 assists and a +3. Thomas Hickey is 2nd on the team with 7 goals, 11 assists and a +5.

-Everett is lead by Kyle Beach who has 19 goals, 20 assists, a -4 rating and 99 PIM's. Zach Hamill also has 10 goals, 21 assists and a -6 rating.

-Everett is expected to get Dane Crowley and Dan Gendur back for the game as well. Everett is likely to have Shayne Barrie in goal with Leland Irving returning from the Canada-Russia Challenge game.


Prospect Updates - 92's

1st round draft pick Erik Fleming is currently playing for the UFA Bisons of the AMHL and is not listed among the league leaders in points, although he plays D so that would be an impressive note if he was. Last year for the Airdrie Xtreme Bantam AAA Fleming had 12 goals, 30 assists and 52 PIM's in 33 games. According to reports, Fleming has played very well this season and has drawn comparisons to Chris Phillips.

2nd round draft pick Calvin Pickard is currently playing for the Winnipeg Wild of the Manitoba Midget AAA League Pickard dazzled in training camp and has continued his hot play into the season going 9-0 with a GAA of 1.67 in his 9 games played. Winnipeg is 13-2 on the season.

3rd round draft pick Brandon Carlson is playing for the Nevada Stars AAA Midget 18 team He is the only '92 that plays for the U18 team. Carlson has 1 goal, 6 assists and 37 PIM's in the 31 games he has played. Nevada is 13-14-5 on the season

4th round draft picks were Chance Lund and Jason Zucker. Lund is playing for the Grande Prairie Storm and once again the AMHL does not have an extensive list of stats unless you are among the league leaders and he is not.

Zucker is from Las Vegas and is playing for the Compuware AAA Midget Minor showcase team Also on that team is Luke Moffatt. Zucker has 11 goals, 6 assists and 14 PIM's in their first 15 games. Compuware is 14-0-1 and in 1st place in the MWEHL U16 league. Zucker is another interesting selection as he is obviously talented but is not a sure bet to go the WHL route. Moffatt was selected by the Kelowna Rockets but has yet to decide whether to attend Michigan State or play in Kelowna next season. He has "verbally" committed to Michigan State.

7th round draft pick Luke Lockhart is playing for the Burnaby Minor Hockey Association - Midget A1 team. They have not updated their stats so I can't tell you how he is doing.

7th round draft pick Justin LaChance... I believe he plays for the Coquitlam Midget AAA team, but they have no updated their website either so I can't say for sure.

8th round draft pick Dan Gibb.... can't find much on him either but he likely plays for the Prince George Midget AAA team.

9th round draft pick Connor Cleverley plays for the AAA Midget City Monarchs or the Winnipeg AAA league. In 16 games this season, Connor has 15 goals, 7 assists and 12 PIM's, which is good for 6th in the league in scoring and 1st in goals. He is also tied for the league lead with 3 Power Play goals and 2 Short Handed goals. The Monarchs are 12-1-3 on the season and trail Thunder Bay by 7 points for 1st place.

Prospect Updates - 91's

By request... here are some updates on the players Seattle has drafted in the past two years.

Since Seattle does not publish their Player Protected List and I don't know how to obtain it, I can only really give updates on the draft picks.

Let's start with the '91 birth year kids who did not make this years team.

2nd round draft pick Zac Ashdown is playing for the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Ashdown has 8 goals, 7 assists and 43 PIM's in 16 games played for the Hounds who are 12-3-1 on the season.

3rd round draft pick Steve Oursov is currently playing for the Trail Smoke Eaters (very cool name if you ask me) of the BCHL. Oursov as a rookie has 8 goals, 5 assists and 16 PIM's for the Smoke Eaters in 23 games. Trail is 14-12 in the Interior Conference.

4th round draft pick Jeff Beattie... I honestly can't find anything on him. I'll keep looking.

5th round draft pick Justin Krabben plays for the Red Deer Optimist Rebels in the AMHL. I can't find any team statistics, but he is a Defensemen so stats are somewhat misleading.

7th round draft pick Kaydon Trumbley plays for the Campbell River Storm of the VIJHL. The Storm are 14-6-2. Trumbley has 1 assist in 18 games but has accumulated 99 PIM's in those 18 games.

8th round draft pick Wade Ritchie is from Calgary, but I cannot find much information on him.

Same with 9th round draft pick Reid Johnson.

10th round draft pick Anthony Hamburg is a very interesting prospect, but one the Thunderbirds will likely never see. Hamburg currently plays for the Dallas Stars AAA Midget team but is from Phoenix and has played for the L.A. Selects in the past. Hamburg is apparently quoted in this USHL Hockey Blog that he has every intention of playing college hockey and not going the WHL route. Hamburg's older brother plays for Colorado College.


Seattle Thunderbirds Win at Shootout

and that is the headline I have been waiting to write for a long time. Granted I have only been operating this blog since the start of the 2007 campaign but for those Thunderbird fans who have been around a few seasons, you know exactly how sweet that is to type.

Seattle breaks through tonight behind a brilliant performance from Jacob DeSerres who stops 35/37 on the way to a 3-2 SHOOTOUT win over the rival Everett Silvertips. To win the shootout over the Silvertips is obviously a bonus, but honestly I would have taken a shootout win over a GSHL team after Seattle was 0-11 in shootouts last season (a league record I doubt will be broken for some time) and 0-1 this season.

Everett played very well in the 1st period and took the action to Seattle out shooting them 17-6 in the first period.

Everett struck first on a goal by Shane Harper where the puck was kicked into the slot area by Graham Potuer and slid just barely past DeSerres where Harper was able to bang it home for his 6th of the year.

Ian McKenzie then then tied the score for Seattle on a wicked slap shot that Leland Irving probably would like to have back. David Richard pushed the action to the left side of the zone where McKenzie unleashed a frozen rope that was relatively unscreened to Irving. The shot hit Irving in the trapper and skipped over to the top left corner and Seattle had the equalizer at 9:28 of the 1st.

The Everett pressure was great during the entire 1st period and they struck for the lead again at the 15:08 mark on the Power Play as Taylor Ellington fired a really nice one timer pass DeSerres on a feed from Bauer from the low slot. For Ellington it was his 2nd of the season and gave the Tips a 2-1 lead after one period.

The score remained scoreless through 2 periods and the Tbirds again found the equalizer only :37 seconds into the 3rd period as Lindsey Nielsen was able to flip a rebound past Irving to tie the score off a Greg Scott shot.

The goal was huge considering the timing... getting the tying goal just 37 seconds into the 3rd period allowed Seattle to play Everett straight up the rest of the way.

The game then went to Overtime were both goaltenders stopped 2 shots each leaving the total at 37-23 after regulation in favor of the Silvertips.

and we head to another shootout..........

Jeremy Boyer starts and does not get a shot off and his tried to pull the puck back off a deke...

Karamnov missed on a shot to the glove side....

Bud Holloway opens the scoring going 5 hole (I believe) on Irving to put Seattle up 1-0 in the circus...

Kyle Beach then misses on a lacrosse style shot, leaving Everett down 1-0... more on this later...

Lindsey Nielsen misses....

Zach Hamill makes a nice move but is bested by DeSerres and Seattle wins the shootout 1-0 and finally wins a circus for the first time in at least 2 seasons....

A big win for Seattle as they move to 10-9-5, 25 points and 5 behind Everett who fall to 14-12-2 and 30 points.

Without question Jacob DeSerres gets the 1st star of the game and I will give my other two stars in a moment... but I want to take a moment to editorialize on the Beach shootout attempt.

It would be much too easy for me at a Seattle fan to constantly rag on Kyle Beach, but the fact is that he might be the MOST talented player in the league. He constantly gets under the skin of other teams, he is always a threat on the ice and he forces other teams to pay attention to him at all times...

However... tonight's shootout attempt proves to me why I would NEVER want a kid like Beach on my team. Tonight's lacrosse style move in the shootout should be reserved for All-Star games.... of which Beach should be a part of plenty over the course of his career. The guy is MUCH too talented to be pulling crap like that when the game is on the line for his team. His move tonight stinks of a player who is out for his own agenda and not the agenda of a team that is fighting for points on a nightly basis. Do I think Kyle Beach can pull off that move...? absolutely... do I think he could have been a hero and a highlight reel if he scores that attempt? definitely.... but do I think, considering how talented he is that this type of attempt is his best chance to score a goal in a shootout? absolutely not...

As a coach of a basketball team.. and a varsity baseball coach I would never ever put up with a player who I thought put his own interests in front of the teams... and tonight I think Kyle Beach put his own personal highlight reel in front of the interests of his team. When he uses the "Michigan" move to score on a Power Play he is helping his team.. but I refuse to believe that the lacrosse style shot he attempted tonight was the highest percentage shot he had in his array of moves.

I don't think many Everett fans read this blog... but let me make myself clear... Kyle Beach is likely the best player in the league, which is exactly why he should not be attempting that shot in the second round of a shootout with a division rival.

Off the soapbox I come... and off to bed. Seattle is off until next Friday when they will meet up again with the same Silvertips up in Everett.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. Jacob DeSerres
2. Thomas Hickey
3. Clayton Bauer

In the rink...

1. Jacob DeSerres
2. Bud Holloway
3. Shane Harper


Game 23 vs. Regina

Bad news tonight is that I was not able to attend the game, only the 2nd game I have missed all year. The good news is that because of that I am able to get the post game recap up to the blog a lot faster than I normally would.

Seattle falls tonight in OT on a bad bounce goal (how many times have we said that this year) 3-2 to the Regina Pats.

Seattle got off to a really good start with the line of Nielsen-Holloway-Scott setting the tone early with their first shift and earning a Power Play only 12 seconds into the contest.

The very same line then follows through and cashes in on the PP chance with Nielsen scoring off a feed from Greg Scott and Bud Holloway at the 1:03 mark of the 1st period.

Regina was able to even the contest out a little bit over the course of the period and eventually tied the game at the 9:19 mark of the 2nd period on a Seattle turnover.

Despite out shooting Regina 30-19 after the first two periods the game was tied at 1-1.

Regina then was able to take the lead at 2:26 of the 3rd period and it was a Power Play goal after Jim O'Brien took one of those new rule Hooking penalties. After the game coach Sumner stated that those are the penalties that have to be avoided by the team because of its location in the neutral zone.

Seattle stayed with it and earned a PP on a Strueby Hooking penalty at 11:39. They converted their 2nd Power Play chance of the game and tied the score on a shot by Captain Thomas Hickey his 7th of the year and the assists going to Acolatse and Rai. For Prab Rai it was his 15th assist of the season, a team high.

The game went to OT with Seattle dominating the shots on goal 38-25 through regulation.

Regina then earned the additional point when a puck was banked in off of Helenius at the 3:41 mark of the Overtime period. Seattle continues to be cursed by the Overtime period having lost every shootout they played in the 2006-07 season and having lost all 5 games that have gone to Overtime in the 07-08 season.

Seattle falls to 9-9-5 good for 23 points and 8th in the Western Conference.

Personally.... these games add to my growing frustration with the teams ability to finish shots and games and its particularly frustrating to feel like games headed to Overtime and Shootouts are destined to be losses.

However... I would be remiss to not at least attempt to see the positive aspects of this game. Seattle scored 2 Power Play goals going 2/6 on the PP while holding a very dangerous Regina Power Play to a 1/4. Seattle also got off to a very fast and hot start and continued to shoot the puck in bunches, something that I believe they must do in order to win.

The team now gets a day off tomorrow for Thanksgiving (even though we all know Canadians do not celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, I'm sure none of the boys are turning down the turkey dinners their Billet families are no doubt providing) and get geared up for a very big game against the Everett Silvertips at home on Saturday. Obviously every game with Everett feels like a big game but the Tips are also on a bit of a roll lately and it will be very important for the Birds to protect the ice in their home building.

Until Saturday....

Wednesday Morning Update

Short Recap of a few U.S. Division games last night...

Kamloops stayed hot scoring 4 unanswered goals to beat Everett 6-4 at the Interior Savings Centre. Brady Calla tallied 3 assists against his former team, while Ivan Rohac chipped in two goals including the winner. Zach Hamill scored twice for Everett while Kyle Beach had only 1 assist but kept his PIM's pace with a 10 minute misconduct for a mouth-guard violation. Leland Irving stopped 32 of 38 in the loss with Justin LeClerc stopping 28/32 for the win.

Portland picked up their 4th win of the season at home over the Regina Pats. Regina is now 0-3 on their 5 game tour of the U.S. Division and visit Seattle tonight. Viktor Sjodin scored with over 4 minutes to play to break the 3-3 tie. Kurtis Mucha was solid again stopping 30/33 in the win. Nick Ross had two assists for Regina while Jeff Bosch stopped 24/28 shots in the loss. Jordan Eberle also tallied his 21st of the season. The super 17 year old is already closing in on his rookie year total of 28 goals.

Regina visits Seattle tonight in one of the few Wednesday night games for the Tbirds. Seattle has to be happy to get back on home ice after earning only 3 points on their Central Division road trip. Seattle ended the trip with an impressive 4-1 victory over Edmonton. Oil King coach Steve Pleau was so upset about the loss he sent his team on a post game run.

So Seattle comes into the game needing to build on the Edmonton game and gain some momentum before a big game against Everett Saturday and the rest of the holiday season. At 9-9-4 the Tbirds are 8th in the Western Conference. Having given up 59 goals and scored 55 they are roughly right where they deserve to be. By comparison Everett has score 76 goals and given up 77 and has a winning percentage of .558 suggesting that they are likely to regress back towards .500 until the numbers improve. Chilliwack at 76 for and 74 against but with a .580 would be another candidate to regress back to .500.

Bud Holloway leads Seattle with 10-9-19 with Thomas Hickey 2nd on the team in points at 6-11-17.

Benn Olson has 99 PIM's and obviously his next penalty will put him over 100 PIM's for the 3rd time in his WHL career.

Riku Helenius will likely be in net for Seattle and has played excellently of late with no support. Helenius is 5-7-3 with a 2.85 GAA and a .910 Sv%. Riku has faced an average of 30.4 shots per game and has stopped an average of 27.67 shots per game. These totals need to come DOWN for Seattle to be successful.


Recap of Game 22 at Edmonton

Its hard to catch these games on the road with the radio broadcast being delayed, my own hockey games and Seahawk home games.

Seattle finally gets a win on their central swing with a 4-1 win over the expansion Oil Kings in Edmonton.

Seattle started the trip playing well and earning only one point... the middle of the trip sounded pretty bad and they were beaten deservedly for their play. From reports it sounds like Seattle deserved at least a point Saturday in Red Deer and finally got the two points they deserved in Edmonton on Sunday. Seattle peppered the Edmonton net with 49 shots on their way to their 4 goals and Jacob DeSerres played well again earning the win.

It was a very tough trip for Seattle earning only 3 points in the 6 games and they now stand at 9-9-4, 22 pts, .500. Two more games will mark the 1/3 mark of the season for Seattle and they now trail Everett for 3rd in the U.S. Division and hold only a 4 point lead (with 4 games in hand) over the Prince George Cougars for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West.

After the completion of this road swing the question must be answered... where do they go from here. Plenty of people are calling for changes... but hopefully Scott Jackson will be back soon and Jeremy Schappart might be ready to play in another month.

I think this team is due to play better and not worse... and if this ends up being the case Seattle should pretty easily be able to maintain any lead over PG for the 8th spot in the playoffs and might be able to catch a few more teams and get into the 4-7th spot range. At this point I think Spokane, Vancouver and Tri-City look pretty locked into the top 3 spots.

Seattle hosts Regina for their only visit on Wednesday before hosting Everett on Saturday evening.

Jon's Report from Red Deer

Same as the last post I don't really have time to edit Jon's text, so this is straight from him.

The hot tub opened up at 8:30, and that is where we headed. After a little dip in the pool, it was time to try out the waterslides. I had forgotten how much fun those could be. Remember to lie on your back, as that is the way to get going the fastest. Sitting is no fun, as you just don’t go very fast. You do need to be careful at the bottom, as water will get right up your nose. Another very important lesson I learned from all of this. Being thrown around on a waterslide and getting water splashed on your face is not the best thing to do when you had a little too much to drink the night before.

The first game for the Bantam AAA tournament was at 10am. We headed over to the rink to watch the four third place teams square off. A very exciting first period between North Shore and a team from Texas. North shore loves to hit, but the refs were calling it very tight, so that really hampered them. Texas jumped all over the powerplay, with two very good defenders that could handle the puck, skate, make great passes, and quarterback the powerplay. I really wonder how a couple of these guys would stand up in a couple of years in the WHL (if they choose that route being from Texas, or if they even know what the WHL is). The team for Texas had some funny names on it. There was a Grossman and a Hollmann. Some other teams in the tournament had some other names we found. Lethbridge has a Big Snake, and we wonder if it is any relationship.

We hit the road, and breakfast was at a place Booster Juice. It is one of these new drink places that offer you boosts. I had my favorite Coconut mix, and added a boost that was for energy. It was a liquid breakfast, which isn’t quite the liquid breakfast I would have expected, but worked very well. The large was very big, so I didn't need to eat again until dinner.

To get to Red Deer from Medicine Hat, you basically go right back through Calgary. The drive is about 4.5 hours. There are ways around Calgary, but not worth it, as most are one lane in each direction roads. The highway is the fastest way for sure. The rolling plains took a little longer this time, or at least it seemed to. Not as much to talk about after a few straight losses. For the last 30 minutes into Calgary, we kept a look out for something we saw on the way out yesterday. Right in the middle of someone’s yard was a very used and weathered Zamboni. We finally came across it, and I grabbed a picture of it. At Calgary, you turn north to Red Deer. The drive is about the same, lots of plains, lots of cattle. You really get an idea of the dangers of driving along these roads when ever couple of miles, the color of the road turns red, and there are little bits of

We arrived in Red Deer around 4pm, and once again, we went straight to the hotel to check in. The Red Deer lodge is listed as a 4 star hotel in downtown Red Deer (If you could call a couple city blocks downtown). They offered us a very great rate, and the hotel didn't disappoint. The rooms are very nice, and the beds very comfortable. This place has a nice pool, but no water slides.

Before the game, we headed to get some dinner. A friend from Calgary met us at the hotel, and recommended the "Rusty Pelican". I guess there is one in Seattle someplace, but none of us had heard of it. We sat at the bar, and once again had the appetizer platter. Very good food, and the lounge tender (her words, not mine) made a very mean Long Island Ice Tea. There was a strange special running for part of the restaurant. If you could name the player that wears number 4 for the Thunderbirds, you got a discount on your ticket. Luckily, seated in that section was the parents of one of the Thunderbirds, and they got the answer correct. Good for them. We shared a good chat with them when they were done. The lounge tender was in a betting mood, and since she didn't like WHL hockey, bet our Calgary friend a round of drinks on the Flames vs Oilers game.

The weather for this trip has been great, with just a little wind to make things cold. But, starting tonight, there didn't need to be any wind to make things cold. No longer did a t-shirt and coat work.

Red Deer plays in a great place. Probably seats around 10k. Very wide open around it with parking everywhere. Inside, the closest comparison fans in Seattle will know is the Tacoma Dome, only without the rounded dome. There is a wide open concourse, that on the sides goes under seats above it. The second level of seats are only on the two sides. There is a large bar on one end, with an obstructed view of the game. The other huge difference between this and the Tacoma done is you can actually see from any seat, and you are somewhat close to the action. They got the pitch of the seats right here. We are amazed at how many fans there are for a team in last place. Probably over 8k. Hard to find a place to sit not near anyone.

The game. Seattle played a very even first period. Much better then in the past. The second period is where Seattle took control. They had a powerplay, and kept the puck in the zone almost the entire 2 minutes. They didn't score, but kept the pressure on. For the rest of the period, they dominated play, winning all the battles. This continued for the third period, but Seattle could just not put Red Deer away. As you all know, Red Deer got the game winner on a nice two on one with a couple minutes to go, and Seattle just couldn’t get on in with the extra attacker. Both of Boyers goals were very nice shooter goals from close range. Both went top shelf, and were very hard. He had a couple close calls for the hat trick. Riku once again played in goal, and was very strong, making a few very good saves. I would have loved for him to come up with one more to keep Seattle in the lead, but it just didn't happen. A very frustrating loss for everyone. Seattle played well enough, and deserved two points from this one, but got zero. You could tell the players were very sad and frustrated as they skated off.

After the game we hung around and talked to a bunch of the parents. Family and friends got to go down below to see the team. There were so many family and friends. The Holloway’s said they had over 20 people. There were a couple others that had almost as many. It has to be great for the players to see everyone, even after a loss.

We headed back to the “Rusty Pelican” to collect on our bet from earlier. The Flames beat the Oilers 3-1, so the first round was on the lounge tender. We stuck around for a little while, had some dinner, then headed back to the hotel. Once we got back, we decided to take a walk through the downtown scene. In a little four square block area, you can find just about any type activity you want. Young dance clubs to country bars. We found a place that served hot dogs until 2am, and for $4, it was a very good hot dog. We met a very nice police officer named "Al". He either has been an officer for a very long time, or always works this area at night (or probably both). He seemed to know everyone by name, and everyone knew him. He was giving a ride home to a very drunk set of girls that knew him very well. After this, we watched a couple guys come out of a club. One was very drunk, and wanted to fight anyone. His friend was not drinking at all, and was trying to keep his friend out of trouble. The drunk one kept pushing his friend, and pushing him. All of a sudden, the cops show up, and cuffed both. Too bad for the friend that was just trying to keep his friend from getting in trouble, as he didn’t deserve to have anything happen to him.

We walked back to the hotel around 2:30am, and it was so cold. Lots of wind made it even colder. I had on my sweatshirt, and heavy coat, and was still a little cold.

It’s off to Edmonton in the mooring. We are trying to make a Midget AAA game up there to see what that action is like. It starts at 11:30, so we will see how close we come.


Jon's personal report from Medicine Hat Friday Night.

I didn't edit this one as much because I'm off to play tonight.... Here is Jon's report:

After getting a good nights sleep on the couch, the car actually rolled out around 10:30am. We were shooting for 10am, but that never happens.

After a quick stop at everyone favorite breakfast place, Tim Horton's,we are on our way. If you don't know about Tim Hortons, then you don't know about Canada, and you don't know good donuts. It would be so good to open one of these in the Seattle area, but I think there is a little too much competition for donuts.

Mental note for the future, and a lesson to be learned by all.Blueberry fritters from Tim Hortons have blueberry filling. When eaten improperly, said blueberry filling will end up in the middle of the only light weight long sleeve shirt you bring on a trip like this.

The drive from Calgary to Medicine Hat is about three hours. When you get four guys in the same car, talking about WHL hockey, and what each team needs to do, and which teams are better, and which teams could goal the way, the drive feels like 15 minutes. And that includes a 5 minute stop for something to drink half way.

Leaving Calgary, there is a lot of construction on the roads for new intersections and over passes. I guess the economy of Calgary is doing very, very well. This would also make sense from the number of large building being built in downtown.

We arrived in the Gas city of Medicine Hat around 1pm. Almost everyone out there will not know that the Hat is home to the worlds largest TeePee, standing around 20 stories tall and weighing 200tons. The Hat is also home to over 60 KM of walking trails (none of which we will be using).

We drove straight to the hotel. We are staying at the Lodge. What a great place. If you are ever lucky enough to visit the Hat, stay here, and ask for the WHL rate (it's a good one). The rooms are very nice with two queen beds, and ours is overlooking the indoor waterslide and pool area. They say it is louder in these rooms, but we can't notice anything.

Downstairs for lunch at 2pm finds us in the back corner of the casino (see a trend here). The appetizer samples of what seemed to be 10 different things wins out. But, we also had the side salads to offset any unhealthy items.

Our tickets to that night's game arrived around 4pm. The Medicine Hat arena holds around 4000, and they get 4000 every game. So getting a ticket can be difficult. We found a very nice lady who hooked us up with 14 tickets. There is a gas station in town that puts certain game tickets on sale Saturday mornings. If you go fill up with gas,you can purchase 2 tickets. I guess her and her family needed a lot of gas. A really big thank you goes out to her and her husband. We set some of the players families up with the rest of the tickets we didn't use. We thought that was the best use of them.

While eating lunch, we read the local paper, and found out there is a very good Bantam AAA tournament going on right now. Lots of quality young kids playing the top level of hockey for their age group. We decided to go visit the 5pm game at a local rink that also had a game next door start at 5:30. Both games feature a team that seemed to dominate play with bigger strong kids, but couldn't put the game out of reach. We were only able to stay for the first period of both games, but is was fun watching. Tons of WHL scouts around. Seemed to be at least one from every team.

We left and headed for the game downtown, and arrived around 6:30pm.We had to meet some parents outside to get them there tickets, and ran into a lot of very nice fans. Chris and Allen were wearing formal Tbird Farmanara, so fans had a lot to talk about with us.

The Medicine Hat arena is very small, but every seat is great.Everything is located under the seats, with all the usual items to eat. The history of this place is kind of eerie, with all the championships, and back to back Memorial Cups in the 80's. Lots of Seattle connections with Farwell being the GM on those teams, and lots of former Tbirds playing. I have a picture that I hope turns out that everyone can play "Name the three people in this picture."

The first period is a very positive sign. Seattle played very well, a lot better then the past two games. The passes were connecting, the breakouts working, and really limiting the Tigers chances. The Tigers get the first goal when Seattle goalie is caught out of the net. Not a very good play from him, since he had the entire other side of the rink to clear the puck to, and I am not even sure he should have tried to play it, since I think it was icing. But, he more then made up for it the rest of way. Seattle gets their first goal on a play that probably should not have counted. Benn Olsen and a willing combatant decide to drop the gloves right after a faceoff in the Tigers end.The only problem for the Tigers is none of the refs blow the whistle to stop play. So, Seattle puts the puck on net, crashes the net, and score. Then the refs notice the fight, blow the whistle, and away they go. Not a bad fight, with both players landing some good punches, but mostly a draw in the end. But, with Seattle scoring the goal. Holloway had a shot short handed in the period that hit the crossbar so hard, it ended up all the back at center ice. The second period brought on the Thunderbirds from the previous two games. Not moving their feet, getting out worked, out hit, outplayed. They got out shot 17-3, and that was about right. If not for Riku coming up big time and time again, it would have been ugly. They also took far too many penalties, giving up something like 4 powerplays. But somehow, they left the period only down 2-1.

Spent the second intermission walking around arena, taking in all the old pictures and articles from teams past. I think the Thunderbirds should take a lesson from this, and put up all the old team photos. It was great looking back to find old players, coaches, and GMs, and see all the pictures on championship runs.

The third period started off ugly for Seattle, giving up a goal 40 seconds in. I think that just took the sails out. They actually didn't play that badly in the third, but the Tigers just kept coming harder and harder. Seattle could never get anything going at all. Riku also kept Seattle in this period, making huge save after huge save. After the fights happened near the end, a very funny thing was noticed by all in the arena. Riku had hopped up on top of the net,and was sitting on the very top part, with his feet hanging over the crossbar. I have a picture of it that will get posted later.

Three stars all went to the Tigers, but we all thought Riku could have gotten the third star.

A couple of game notes. Scott Jackson was on the bench for the entire game. Very good move for him and the team. He of coarse seemed to be managing the defenders and helping them out. The one thing I noticed about the rink in Medicine Hat was how fast the puck goes around the boards. Quite a few times, Seattle would shoot the puck in, and before the defender could get to the opposite boards, the puck would come back out to center ice. I am not sure if it was Seattle not moving fast enough, or if it really was how good the boards are.

Following the game, we tried to hustle back to the Bantam AAA tournament for what was billed as the best game. But, due to traffic,and a police checkpoint for alcohol, we walked in with 2 minutes left in the game. But it was a great last two minutes.

After this, back to the hotel, and ordered delivery pizza from the place voted best pizza in town. It was no let down, and was very thick and good. We spent the rest of the night at the hotel. Tomorrow, we have a 4.5 hour drive to Red Deer, so we are planning on going to the morning games for the Bantam tournament, and then hitting the road.


Fan Report from Calgary

Jon and a few other fans are travelling with the team over the weekend and Jon is going to check in with some personal reports on his trip. I edited a few things for Jon but the thoughts are all him...


I drove up to Abbotsford Wednesday night.
Boy, were there some very strong winds in the Mount Vernon / Bellingham area.

You have to love the border at Sumas. It is usually so easy.
This time, the agent asks where we are going, and says to have a nice stay. Didn’t ask to see our I.D.’s or anything.

Got up around 7am Thursday morning, and caught a cab over to the Abbotsford airport,
I had a 9:10 flight to Calgary. Why fly out of Abbotsford you may ask? Without a passport, it is very easy to fly inside Canada. One other strange thing about flying in Canada, you don’t have to remove your shoes at the security area.

The flight was very easy and smooth except for the decent into Calgary. Those winds blowing off the mountains always make for a bumpy ride. I really wish I had packed my camera in my laptop case instead of in my suitcase in the overhead bin. We circled around Calgary twice on the way to the airport, and I could have gotten some great images of downtown from the air.

Allen, Chris, and Josh were nice enough to pick me up from the airport. First order of business was to find a place for breakfast. After driving around all over the place, we ended up at the Stampede Casino next to the Saddledome. Very bland and expensive food. Allen had the best food… a plain hamburger.

We then watched someone with far too much money lose most of it playing roulette. Josh played some video poker and doubled his huge initial investment of $5. They finally convinced me to try and gamble. Normally, I never gamble, too much risk and I have terrible luck. This time, my luck changed. I started with $5, and five minutes later when I decided to cash out, I had $5.75. That $.75 cents went to pay for my portion of the parking.

We walked around outside, and man was it windy. The flags were blowing everywhere.

We decided to go shoot some pool at a place downtown. The only thing we managed to do was find another activity I am no good at. At least the beer was good and cold. We got to watch the Bruins / Maple Leafs game on the TV. We got excited every time (Jeremy) Reich or (Milan) Lucic appeared on the screen. Lucic had a great fight.

Following six games of pool where I ended up going 1-5, we left for the evening’s hockey game. We decided long ago to watch the Calgary Royals host the Olds Grizzlies. This is Alberta Junior Hockey. And, if we remember correctly, the Royals are where Hickey played (edit: that is correct). The game turned out to be a blowout and Calgary won 7-2. Some good scoring, good hitting, and good fighting. No WHL names that we recognized. At times though, both teams to have taking notes from the Thunderbirds, forgetting breakout plays, making poor passes, and doing nothing on the power play.

After the game, at the recommendation of GM Farwell, we headed back downtown to the new Flames restaurant/bar/club. This turns out to be an old theater, converted into a very impressive audio / video location. However, on this night, it was rented out by some bar association for a private function. We did get to go in and look around, and it was very cool. The jeans and sweatshirt I had on made me very under dressed. The have installed a movie theater sized screen where the theater stage used to be, and show NHL games on it. Very nice image quality.

So, a couple of Hitmen fans were nice enough to join us, and take us to a different restaurant. This one turned out to be located right back next to the place we watched the hockey game at. One long round trip in the car. This place had the best chicken wings I have ever had. And no, it was not the Long Island Ice Tea talking.

Now, we are back at the house of a Hitmen fan that is nice enough to let us sleep at his house. It is time to catch some sleep, as we are planning to leave for Medicine Hat around 10am tomorrow (ok, really today).

Travel and game recap from Medicine up next.



Another loss on the Central Swing

I've missed the last couple of games so I apologize for the lack of reading material. Apparently I haven't missed a whole lot as Seattle has not played well the last two nights. Tonight they drop a 3-0 decision in Calgary despite 38 saves from Calgary Native Jacob DeSerres.

Seattle obviously has some problems right now that are beginning to really shot on the scoreboard. They have a serious lack of offense when Thomas Hickey and Bud Holloway are held off the scoreboard and the D is giving up way too many shots on goal which can be attributed, at least in part, by Seattle missing Scott Jackson and Jeremy Schappert.

I'm certainly not ready to give up on the season, but this version of the Thunderbirds is starting to look very .500'ish if you will allow me to make that word up.

Central Scouting Released their initial WHL draft eligible player rankings and perhaps we should take note of the lack of Thunderbird presence on the list (from a skater prospective). Not to diminish the skill set of Chet Pickard but I would take Jacob DeSerres over him any day.

1. C Kyle Beach, Everett
2. D Tyler Myers, Kelowna
3. D Colten Teubert, Regina
4. D Luke Schenn, Kelowna
5. D Tyler Ennis, Medicine Hat
6. C Zach Boychuk, Lethbridge
7. D Jyri Niemi, Saskatoon
8. C Jordan Eberle, Regina
9. D Luca Sbisa, Lethbridge
10. LW George Wudrick, Swift Current
11. D Colby Robak, Brandon
12. C James Wright, Vancouver
13. D Travis Hamonic, Moose Jaw
14. C Brandon McMillan, Kelowna
15. LW Matt Calvert, Brandon
16. D Matt Delahey, Regina
17. D Mitch Wahl, Spokane
18. D Michael Stone, Calgary
19. C Kruise Reddick, Tri-City
20. D Teigan Zahn, Sasktoon
21. C Lance Bouma, Vancouver
22. D Eric Mestery, Tri-City
23. C Joel Broda, Moose Jaw
24. D Jordan Rowley, Kamloops
25. C Matt Tassone, Swift Current


1. Chet Pickard, Tri-City
2. Braden Holtby, Saskatoon
3. Jacob DeSerres, Seattle
4. Martin Jones, Calgary
5. Dustin Tokarski, Spokane
6. Morgan Clark, Red Deer
7. Kyle Birch, Tri-City


Game 17 Recap at Kooteney

I had come conflicts last night and was only able to catch the radio portion of the 3rd period and OT.

My general feelings is that it sounded like the Tbirds started the game strong, had a strong forecheck and in the 3rd period was very unfortunate not to gain the go ahead goal.

At the end of the day... Kooteney had been playing much better of late and Seattle still earns a point in a road game. I know these Shootout and OT losses are tough for fans and it would be nice to gain TWO points instead of one... its still a point on the road. This is a hallmark of the Rob Sumner Tbirds to play games close enough to not get beat in regulation and grind out points on the road.

The not so good news is that Seattle went 0/7 on the Power Play again and the unit is beginning to look like the same unit from years previous.

Seattle is off today and play former Tbird Mitch Fadden tomorrow in Lethbridge.

With the OTL Seattle falls to 8-5-4 good for 20 points in 17 games which is a pace for about 85 points.


Game 16 vs. Portland Recap

Seattle wins tonight 3-1 over the visiting Winterhawks who drop to a league low 3-16. As a die hard long time Tbird fan I can't believe I am going to say this... but its just not as fun to chant "Portland Sucks" when you know they actually DO suck. Portland is obviously in rebuilding mode and I'm sure 7 new players trying to mesh with 18 old ones didn't help things. In addition, their backup goaltender Mark Guggenberger was apparently sent home for violating team conduct code.

It is a lot more fun to chant "Portland Sucks" when you are beating them and they are a quality team. Let's hope Portland turns it around in the next year or two.

On the plus side... Seattle played with a very solid forecheck that hounded the 'Hawks all night long and forced Kurtis Mucha to stop 53 of the 56 shots launched his way. Needless to say the shots on goal were a season high and the whoever picks the 3 stars should be ashamed of themselves for not including Mucha as at least the 3rd star. Those 3 stars stunk of home town favoritism and I don't like it when Everett does it... so I won't like it when we do it.

Also on the plus side was a 2 goal effort from Bud Holloway (and almost a 3rd for his 2nd hat trick), a 2 assist night from Prab Rai who now leads the team with 13 of them and a much needed goal from Ian McKenzie who has struggled of late but was able to bury a rebound in the 3rd period for the 3rd and final Tbird tally. Let's hope that goal from Ian gets his confidence back and gets him headed in the right direction.

Seattle now hops on a bus (they are on it right now I would assume probably around Ellensburg on their way to Cranbrook for a meeting with Kooteney tomorrow night at 5pm.

Let's Go Birds Blog Three Stars of the Game:

1. Bud Holloway, had the tying goal and the GWG.
2. Prab Rai, 2 more assists for Prab tonight.
3. Kurtis Mucha, ummm 53 saves... in 56 shots...

Honorable Mention: Ian McKenzie, Thomas Hickey, Keith Voytechek

In the Rink stars:

1. McKenzie
2. Holloway
3. Rai

WHL Scoreboard