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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Forgotten Point

Of course I forgot the last and probably most likely scenario in the previous post... that Seattle acquires another D-man via the trade route.

Jon makes a relevant comment in the previous post that when Sena or Olson get in a fight you are down to 4 D, which includes two 16 year olds. Or worse... not really if but when Sena or Olson get a 10 or a G.M. can you really roll with 4 D for a large portion of the game?

I would expect to see a minor trade or call up here in the next few days or I can see them rolling with 5 D for the weekend and making a move soon.

Make a move?

With the Scott Jackson injury confirmed as being at least 2 and possibly as long as 6 weeks (and I believe we are looking at closer to 6 than 2). The Tbirds now have only 5 healthy Defensemen on the active roster and the speculation has begun about what Seattle will do with the situation while Jackson recovers.

Brad Bakken was recently sent to Langley and could be recalled but my sources tell me that he asked to be sent to Langley to receive more playing time and I can't envision him being back in Seattle.

A few message board posters have suggested a few other young kids to get the big call up including Kaydon Trumbley who is currently playing for the Campbell River Storm of the VIJHL Junior B League. Trumbley is a '91 and would not be restricted in the number of games he could play. The other possible '91 would be Justin Krabben who is playing for the Red Deer Optimist Rebels in the AMHL, which is a "AAA" Midget League. I never saw mention of either one of these kids even being in the prospect camps and since Seattle doesn't make their list public I have no idea if they are even still on their list.

Another possibility would be to call up the Thunderbirds 1st round bantam pick from this past year, Erik Fleming who is currently playing for the UFA Bisons in the same AMHL that Justin Krabben plays in. The problem with calling up Fleming is that he would only be available for 5 games as he is a '92.

Yet another possibility is that Seattle just rolls with 5 D-men. This sounds a tad bit crazy, but it might not be so crazy when we analyze it.

Thomas Hickey probably logs anywhere from 25-30 minutes of ice time on any given night? You have 120 minutes of ice time for D-men and if you expand Hickey to 30 minutes for 3 or 4 weeks you have chewed up 25% of the minutes with one guy. 90 minutes split into 4 other guys is 22.5 minutes which should be something they could handle quite easily. I'm not really sure this is a good idea in the long run, but something that could be done. You could also rotate Holloway or O'Brien back to D for a shift or two when needed. I worry that over the course of a long season you put too many "miles" on Hickey and he tires towards the end of the season and playoffs.

We'll have to see how this plays out in the next few days and weeks.

I'll be back later with another post.


Scott Jackson Injury Update

Rumor has it... Jackson suffered a "sprained ankle" (which isn't much of a rumor). I saw him at Key Arena sporting crutches so to what degree the ankle is hurt would be a guess.... so I will guess.

I'm guessing from the crutches we are dealing with a little more than a middle of the road "sprain" and that he will be out for anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

Edit: Official word from the Thunderbirds is that "it's an ankle and he is out indefinitely".

Game 12 vs. Brandon Recap

I had to leave the game early last night due to my own game in Everett... and boy did I miss one heck of a finish (sarcasm again). Thunderbirds lose last night 5-2 to the visiting Wheat Kings and suffer their first regulation loss at home (bound to happen).

Scott Jackson was a scratch and was seen with crutches in the arena. No word from the team on the severity of his injury yet. With two defensemen now in the stands (Schappert, Jackson) the team is a little short on experienced D men.

Sena Acolatse converted a second period Power Play goal for his first career WHL goal. Congrats to Sena.

Unfortunately for Seattle, they just appeared to run out of gas on a 3 games in 3 days weekend. I really like the fact that Thomas Hickey refused to allow that as an excuse (like a good captain should). Let's face facts though, Seattle has played fewer games than anyone in the WHL and this was their first 3 game weekend with a trip to Spokane wedged in between.

I still feel as though they would have been better of starting Helenius in Spokane and DeSerres on Sunday, but Helenius was certainly not the problem after doing a tremendous job keeping Brandon to only 1 goal in the 1st period.

Tbirds drop to 6-3-3, 15 pts, .625. This puts them 4th in the division by points but 3rd on point percentage (which is a better gauge). This also leaves them 5th in the conference.

Seattle is off until next weekend when they will play another 3 games in 3 days. Next weekend will be a big indication of how this team can bounce back as they are on the road in Spokane Friday before returning home for Tri City and Spokane on Saturday and Sunday.


Game 11 at Spokane

I only have the radio broadcast going tonight so not as many updates as I would normal provide.

-I'm slightly surprised, but Jacob DeSerres starts in net for the Tbirds tonight and will be opposed by Dustin Tokarski for Spokane.

Not a whole lot to analyze after this game tonight. The winner in the "most obvious comment ever" category is: you have to score to win the game. Jacob DeSerres played well for the most part, although I have to be slightly critical of coach Rob Sumner for not starting Riku Helenius. I really thought we would see Helenius in back to back games with DeSerres getting the home game Sunday. With tonight's game being not only a U.S. Division opponent but also a road game I would think that your #1 goaltender would get the start. It's not that I have a lack of confidence in DeSerres, but lets be honest, Helenius is your #1 so why not play him on the road against a division opponent. DeSerres allowed a soft goal to open the scoring at 5:00 of the first period when the puck was thrown into the crease. Jacob thought he had the puck covered up and did not, allowing Langkow to come in and poke the puck into the net.

Jared Cowen converted a PP goal for Spokane at the 11:35 mark of the 2nd period and the Tbirds really only threatened a few times the rest of the game. Seattle finished 0/7 on the PP and it beginning to be of some concern as they rank close to the bottom in the WHL on a % basis. In hockey you cannot get caught up too much about the details on a game to game basis. You must focus on the bigger picture. The bottom line is that Spokane is a quality opponent and you were playing them in their building, you aren't expected to win and Seattle didn't. Defeat Brandon tomorrow at home and you come away with 4 out of 6 points in a 3 game weekend and I would call that a success.

Game 10 Recap vs. Saskatoon

-Helenius in goal tonight for Seattle vs. Holtby for Saskatoon. I would expect to likely see Riku tonight and tomorrow in Spokane and then DeSerres at home vs. Brandon on Sunday.

-Prab Rai opens the scoring at the 3:09 mark. Well actually Josh Lazowski opens the scoring with his first career WHL goal. Rai took the puck from the left circle to the slot on his back hand where he spun it around to his forehand to get the shot off. Lazowski (who my wife has coined "Lazer") crashed the net hard taking a swipe at the puck. I don't think he actually got a piece of it with his stick as the puck rebounded high in the air it deflected off his shoulder or something and pops into the net for a 1-0 lead. Congrats to "Lazer" on his first WHL goal.

-Colton Gilles gets Saskatoon on the board with a PP goal at the 11:07 mark of the first on a nice little wrister to the top shelf over Riku's blocker shoulder. The Tbirds have to be careful here with Saskatoon, who is playing the 6th game of their western road swing and has lost the first 5 on the trip. They are obviously struggling, but if you let them hang around they you risk giving them confidence and hang around long enough to steal a point or more.

-1st period ends 1-1 with shots favoring Seattle 12-11. At this very moment in the season, Seattle is better than this Blades team and hustle and effort in the next two periods should be able to take this game. It was a good sign for Seattle that they didn't get off to that slow start we have been seeing in the past few games. Hopefully they can finish with the same intensity of the past few.

-Jim O'Brien gets his second of the year on a nice pass from Holloway. Holloway found O'Brien in front of the net through some traffic from behind the net and O'Brien put it past Holtby for the 2-1 lead. Big goal to get the lead, lets see if it will hold.

-Just over a minute later and Lindsey Nielsen gets his second of the year as well. Something happened here where the puck squirted out from the corner and for some reason Holtby never saw it. Nielsen swooped in from the far side to the slot and place a backhand into the wide open net for the 3-1 lead.

-Greg Scott converts a PP goal for the Tbirds at the 7:53 mark as Seattle is starting to put this thing away. Rai and Hickey get the assists. Rai found Scott on the backside of the PP all by himself and no Blades came to the rescue of Holtby who had to attempt to stop Scott from point blank from the bottom of the left circle and could not.

-Quakenbush, who hadn't scored since the first Seattle goal of the season up in Kamloops bangs one home for a 5-1 lead. IQ planted himself in front of the net (good place for him to be) and Rai hit him with a nice pass from the end line at the 19:30 mark here in the 2nd. Rai with his 3rd assist of the game.

-2nd period ends 5-1 as Seattle has basically ended this game and needs just a solid 3rd period to come away with the two points. Shots on goal were 26-23 in favor of Seattle.

-Seattle wins 5-1 after a relatively slow third period. Saskatoon never really threatened and neither did the Tbirds. Toomey and Acolatse fought at the 18:01 mark which was really a draw until Sena popped Toomey right in the mouth and dropped him with his last shot of the bout giving him the win. Chaffin and Philp fight at the end of the game with Philp probably scoring the win on this one. Short fight and Chaffin held his own just fine, but one of the few fights at home this season that I think the Tbirds have lost.

-Shots on goal ended 31-30 in favor of Seattle.

This was was really over after the 3 goals in roughly 3 minutes that Seattle scored in the 2nd. Nice to see the Tbirds take care of business on home ice and against a team that they were clearly better than. Also nice to see them notch a PP goal and put 5 tallies on the board. Overall a dominant 2nd period wins the game for Seattle and they will move on to tomorrow night's matchup with the Spokane Chiefs in Spokane.

Let's Go Birds Blog 3 Star of the Game:

1. Prab Rai. Can't argue with the P by P boys on this one... he had 3 assists and played a fast and solid game all night.
2. Riku Helenius. He didn't even get one star in the rink and maybe I'm biased towards goaltenders, but when you stop 29/30 including some big stops you deserve a star.
3. Benn Olson. I'm going with Olsen who was +3 on the night with 4 PIM's and I believe that +/- is an important stat and Olson has improved so much in the two years he has been in Seattle.

Honorable Mention: Thomas Hickey (he is pretty much always here unless hes a star), Josh Lazowski (first WHL goal), Chris Durand (assisted on Gillies goal and a nod to the former Tbird)

In the rink:

1.Prab Rai
2. Thomas Hickey
3. Josh Lazowski


Hickey and Holloway named to Team WHL

Thomas Hickey (no surprise) and Bud Holloway (maybe small surprise but definitely not a shock) were named to the Team WHL roster for the Canada-Russia Challenge.

Team WHL is 8-0 in the series and have outscored Russia 47-11.

Among others... former T-Bird Mitch Fadden was also named to the roster as well as U.S. Division players Zach Hamill and Leland Irving (Everett).

Official team press release can be found here


Andre Herman finds a team

Credit to "Ryland" over on the Tbirds forum for the tip on this one.

Andre Herman apparently found a home. I had been looking around a little bit to see if he caught on with someone and had yet to find anything. He was picked up by the Camrose Kodiaks, a Junior A team in the CJAHL. Camrose is located to the south of Edmonton and his hometown of Sherwood Park, AB.
Herman is off to a great start with Camrose, registering 9 points in 7 games.
Edit: Alan Caldwell is so sharp. The Camrose Kodiaks are part of the AJHL which is under the umbrella of the CJAHL. My apologies for the confusion.


Tuesday Update

I haven't had a chance yet to order the archive of the game on Saturday in Portland. It sounds like I should probably order it and take a look considering the line brawl and goalie (brief) fight at the end of the game.

While on the surface it is slightly disappointing to see the Tbirds "only" win 2-0 in Portland... I think its really good to see Seattle back to their formula of controlling the defensive end of the zone, get good goaltending and a few timely goals. They allowed Portland a much more manageable 26 shots as compared the the 40+ and 50+ shots they allowed to Vancouver and Chilliwack in the previous games.

Thomas Hickey scored his 5th goal of the year in the third period which tied him with Jeremy Boyer for the team lead in goals. This tie lasted only :58 seconds as Boyer buried his 6th of the season to reclaim the goal lead.

Seattle now starts to pick their schedule up a bit as they play 3 times this weekend starting by hosting Saskatoon on Friday, visiting Spokane Saturday and coming home for the Brandon Wheat Kings Sunday evening.

Whenever the Eastern Conference teams come in for a visit it is important to earn points and this weekend will be no different. I will call for at least 4 points from the Tbirds this weekend with any more being a bonus and any less being a disappointment. If games were played on paper I would guess they hold serve at home on Friday and Saturday and lose in Spokane but you can get to 4 points a number of different ways.

Get two games to OT and win one of the home games would feel like a different weekend but still yield 4 points and at the end of the season... points are all that matter.


Game 8 Recap

-Riku Helenius in goal for Seattle. I imagine that Jacob DeSerres would likley get the start tomorrow night in Portland.

-Seattle off to a real slow start... Giants outshooting them 6-0 in the first 5 minutes. Tbirds can't afford another 50 shots on goal like they did in Chilliwack.

-O'Brien is really fast... I'll probably write that like 50 times this year, he splits two defenders and draws a penalty. Shots on Goal are still 8-0 in favor of Giants.

-Richard draws a trip to negate the last :17 seconds of the Power Play and Blum bangs home a rebound about a minute later and Vancouver takes a 1-0 lead.

-Tbirds finally show a little bif of fire at the end of the period, but trail 1-0 and Vancouver outshoots them 13-5 in the period. Much of the same from Chilliwack, Tbirds need to find their game again.

-Richard and Henry drop the gloves... maybe a slight edge to Richard.

-Giants go up 2-0 on a weird angle goal. Evander Kane threw it in from the end wall and I believe it goes off Olson's skate and trickles into the corner of the net. 2-0 Giants.

-Very critical goal by Bud Holloway, shorthanded with 1:12 left in the 2nd period. Vancouver turnover led to the 2 on 1 and Holloway stayed open all the way to the net and flipped it up over the glove of Sexsmith. Very big goal to end the 2nd period down only 1 instead of 2.

-Shots on Goal after 2 periods... 27-18 Vancouver.

-Tbirds have tied it up! Another Giant turnover leads to another 2 on 1 and Holloway this time fakes the slap shot, both the defender and Sexsmith bite on the fake and Bud slides a perfect feed across the middle to Eberle who bangs it home and we're tied at 2-2.

-Tbirds showing much more fire and confidence since the end of the 1st period.

-Teams trade chances but nobody scores and we head to overtime tied at 2-2. Shots on Goal after regulation are 40-23 for Vancouver. I said earlier that they cannot afford to give up more than 35 shots, so we'll see how this turns out.

-Horrible bounce off the boards in overtime leads to an easy feed by Wright across to Berube who buries the game winner at 3:10 to play in OT. Tough break for Seattle.

Overall I can't say the Tbirds really deserved to win that game so the outcome seems justified. I thought the effort and determination was really solid after a shaky first period. Sumner was quoted after the game saying it took about a period to get their confidence back and it showed. 1 point is still better than 0 points and Vancouver is a quality team. If this happens tonight in Portland I would be much more concerned.

Let's review the keys to the game...

1. Crack the Giants PK unit and score at least 1 PP goal. - No... Tbirds finish 0/7 on the PP and fail to tally a PP goal for the first time this year.

2. Limit shots on goal to under 35 (since 30 didn't work last time). - No...Vancouver managed 41 shots on goal, 40 of which were in regulation.

3. Punch the Giants in the teeth... meaning Seattle must establish a physical presence early in the game. - Yes and No... I thought Vancouver really took it to them in the 1st period and later Seattle got physical.

4. Continue earning more PP chances than opponent. - Yes... a good sign again the Tbirds earn 7 PP's to the Giants 5.

Let's Go Birds blog 3 stars of the game.

1. Evender Kane, VAN. Goal and Assist in the win for Vancouver
2. Bud Holloway. Really kept Seattle in it with his goal and assist
3. James Wright, VAN. Tallied 2 assists including the pass for the game winner

Honorable mention... Riku Helenius, certainly can't fault his game stopping 38/41 shots and the game winner was a horrible bounce to set it up.

I will be attending the Hear See Hope Charity Auction tonight and will not be able to provide any kind of analysis for the game in Portland tonight. If someone watches or listens to it, feel free to comment.

Tbirds lose in Overtime

Seattle loses in Overtime tonight 3-2 to Vancouver. I will share with everyone my game notes and more commentary tomorrow morning. For now I am going to go to bed... It was a disappointing loss but the Tbirds did earn a point against a quality opponent. More tomorrow...


Game 8 vs. Vancouver Giants

11pm hockey games on Thursday night have a way of sapping the energy out of a blogger on a Friday morning.

Seattle comes into tonight's game with a record of 4-1-1 (.714) having their unbeaten (in regulation) record snapped in a big way Wednesday night in Chilliwack. The Tbirds are 3-0-1 at home this season.

The Giants come into tonight's contest with a record of 7-1-2 (.800) which is good for 1st in the WHL on a Point Percentage basis. The Giants are 4-0-1 on the road this season.

Special Teams Report:

Seattle is now 8/53 on the PP good for 14.5% and 17th in the WHL. They have scored at least 1 PP goal in each of their first 7 games. They are averaging 7.57 PP chances per game.

Vancouver is 12/64 on the PP good for 18.8%. They are averaging 6.4 PP chances per game.

Seattle has slipped to 5th in the WHL with their PK unit and have killed 38/44 Power Plays which is good for 86.4% kill rate. They are giving up 6.28 PP chances per game.

Vancouver takes over the #1 spot in the WHL on the PK and have killed 58/64 Power Plays good for a 90.6% kill rate. Vancouver is surrendering 6.4 PP's per game.


Obviously no game early in the season is a "must win" game but there is no doubt that this is a big game for the Thunderbirds. Not only are they playing a team that is ranked #1 in the WHL but they will also have to rebound from the debacle in Chilliwack on Wednesday and need to be able to defend their home ice tonight.

I expect a much better effort from Seattle tonight, but a much better effort might still not be enough against a solid opponent like Vancouver. The Giants owned Seattle at Key Arena in last years playoff series outscoring the Tbirds 12-3 in the 2 games played. They clearly feel comfortable playing in the "Key" and should be able to match Seattle's team speed.

Keys to the game:

1. Crack the Giants PK unit and score at least 1 PP goal.
2. Limit shots on goal to under 35 (since 30 didn't work last time).
3. Punch the Giants in the teeth... meaning Seattle must establish a physical presence early in the game.
4. Continue earning more PP chances than opponent.

I think the effort will be much better tonight for Seattle but I will call for a close Shootout Loss. Last game I predicted a Win and that did not turn out well... we'll try the other way around tonight.

Prediction... Seattle 3 Vancouver 4 F(SO)


Bruins 6 Thunderbirds 2

The good news is that this one only counts as one game on the schedule because the Tbirds got beat tonight and they got beat badly.

I agreed with TB on the radio that I cannot remember a Rob Sumner team getting dominated that badly over the course of the game. Sure the score was nearly even in the 2nd and 3rd periods but the shots on goal were an indication of how bad this game was.

Helenius was not horrible but wasn't as good as we have seen from him up to this point. Jacob DeSerres actually played pretty well stopping 30 of 33 shots (in only roughly 45 minutes!) and I don't think the game was even as close as the score indicated.

There were a couple of bright spots... Jeremy Boyer takes over the team lead in scoring (who had that bet at the start of the year??) and Bud Holloway gets his second of the year. The goal by Boyer was a Power Play goal, meaning that Seattle had now tallied a PP goal in each of their first 7 games. They finished a paltry 1/11 on the PP, but I will choose again to focus on the positive of that number (they scored and generated 11 chances).

The tough part was the PK unit, which came into the game ranked #1 in the WHL and will longer be such tomorrow. Chilliwack scores 3 times on only 8 chances with Oscar Moller getting 2 of those 3.

Let's check my keys to the game before the night started and see how they did...

-They have more PP chances than the Bruins - Yes, 11-8
-They convert on at least 1 of those chances - Yes, 1
-They do not allow more than one PP goal - NO, allowed 3!
-They do not allow more than 30 shots on goal - NO, umm no 50 shots against doesn't count.

Tbirds only do two of the four things needed to win. I would also give them an "F" on trying to get the other two things done.

Tbirds drop to 4-1-2 on the season and .714 Point Percentage while the Bruins move to 8-3 and a .727 point percentage.

Seattle at Chilliwack, Game 7

Ummm can we start this one over?

Seattle trails 3-0 after the 1st period of play. They were outshot 19-4 in the period with Helenius being replaced by DeSerres after giving up 3 goals on 17 shots (can you really blame him).

The Tbirds gave up a breakaway goal :43 into the game to Oscar Moller, who then tallied a PP goal after Seattle was assessed a bench minor in conjunction with Benn Olsen receiving 5 minutes for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct. Its always hard to tell exactly why one guy gets a 10 and the other doesn't and I'm sure that is why either Sumner or another player was hit with the extra 2 minute bench minor.

Shots after 1st, SEA - 4, CHIL - 19

Seattle at Chilliwack Preview

Tbirds take on Chilliwack tonight and put their undefeated (in regulation) record on the line.

-Seattle comes into the game with a record of 4-0-2 (I combine OT losses and SO losses since they both count as a point) good for 10 points and 3rd place in the U.S. Division. Based on Points Percentage the Tbirds are 1st in the WHL at .833 but have also played 2 less games than the Brandon Wheat Kings and 3 less games than anyone else in the WHL.

-Chilliwack enters with a record of 7-3-0 good for 14 points and .700. The Bruins have already played 8 home games and they are 5-3 in those games.

-The Bruins are 10/54 on the Power Play good for 9th place in the WHL. This works out to 5.4 Power Play chances per game.

-Bruins are also 55/65 on the Penalty Kill for 84.6% which is good for 12th in the league. Giving up 6.5 PP chances per game.

-The Tbirds are 7/44 on the Power Play for 15.9% and good for only 16th in the WHL. They have however generated 7.33 PP chances per game and if you take the perspective that they have scored 7 PP goals in 6 games which would place them behind only 8 teams in PP goals per game.

-Seattle is also 1st in the WHL in Penalty Kill at 33/36 for 91.7% and has surrendered 6 PP chances per game.

Goaltending comparison:

-Matt Esposito is 7-3 with a 2.56 GAA and 90.2% Save Percentage. He has only faced 24.4 shots per game making 22 saves per game and recording 1 shutout.

-Riku Helenius is 4-0-1 and leads the WHL in GAA at 1.58 with a Save % of 93.8%. He has faced 25.6 shots per game, stopping 24 of them per contest.

Scoring comparison:

-Mark Santorelli leads the Bruins with 4-11-15 pts and a +4 rating. He has compiled 1.5 points per game while Colby Kulhanek leads the team with 6 goals. Oscar Moller lead the team in goals last year and has 3-6-9 pts to this point. Brandon Campos has scored 4 times for the Bruins since being acquired from Everett a couple of weeks ago. Nick Holden leads the Bruins Defensive core, the 20 year old has 3 goals and 5 assist while posting a +7 rating.

-Seattle is lead by Thomas Hickey, the 18 year old captain has 4 goals and 3 assists in 6 games. Last year Hickey had 9 goals in 68 games and is on pace for 48 this season. Speaking of which... Jeremy Boyer is tied with Hickey for the team lead in goals at 4 and would also be on pace for 48. I'm going to go out on a very thin limb (catch the sarcasm here guys) that if Hickey and Boyer each score 48 goals this season this team is in very good shape. Jim O'Brien is second in points at 5... the 1st round pick has 1 goal and 4 assists in only 4 games since joining the team.

Keys to the Game:

The formula for a Seattle victory is very simple. For the Tbirds it has and always will start from back to front. Seattle has to limit the mistakes in their own zone and allow Riku Helenius to do what he is capable of doing. If Seattle can avoid any silly mistakes in their own end they should be able to control the Special Teams battle and earn more chances than Chilliwack.

Seattle wins if...
-They have more PP chances than the Bruins
-They convert on at least 1 of those chances
-They do not allow more than one PP goal
-They do not allow more than 30 shots on goal

Prediction... Seattle 3 Chilliwack 2

We'll check and see how accurate I am tonight...


Gagnon reassigned

Aaron Gagnon was reassigned by the Dallas Stars from Iowa to Idaho today. I was just in Des Moines this past weekend and took in an Iowa Stars game. Special thanks to Gagnon for leaving me a couple of tickets.

Gagnon had started skating again last Monday after suffering an ankle injury last month at the Traverse City Prospects tournament. He had just been cleared to play again on Wednesday of last week but was a healthy scratch (technically) for both Iowa games this weekend.

My guess is that he will see some playing time in Idaho and will be back to Iowa before too long.

Article can be found here...


Still Regulation Undefeated

Got home from Iowa last night in time to catch most of the game. I arrived with my wife with about 7 minutes to go in the 1st period.

Let me share some quick thoughts on Friday night's game. Obviously I wasn't able to see the game, but from all accounts it looks as though Jeremy Boyer has arrived.

Boyer was highly touted out of Juniors and came in as an accomplished goal scorer but had only scored once in his first 61 games. That number is somewhat deceptive though since he made the team last year as a 16 year old and dressed most nights on the 4th line. While he had appeared in 61 games, its not as though he had logged a tremendous amount of ice time in those contests. I think what you are seeing now is a kid who is getting better and better, getting more ice time and is starting to produce with his chances.

Which brings me to last nights recap....

-I arrived late.... Helenius in net for the Tbirds. I assume they would like to get him as many games as possible before he leaves for the Junior Worlds which will allow DeSerres ample opportunities to log some games.

-Kamloops maintained an excellent forecheck through the last half of the period and kept the action mostly in the Seattle zone.

-Scoreless after 1st period... SOG's are Seattle-9 and Kamloops-10

-McKenzie delivers a big hit just inside the Kamloops zone but is called for Interference. Helenius stops a nice drive from Juuso Puustinen low to his blocker side and the penalty is killed.

-Richard, Boyer and McKenzie playing together.... not a bad little 3rd line.

-Kamloops again with a strong forecheck keeping the action mostly in the Seattle zone, but Helenius is stout to the challenge and the Tbirds earn a PP.

-Tbirds cannot convert on the PP but several good shots on goal. Schappert and Wells get some action on the PP and do a nice job as well.

-Richard off for Interference in the Kamloops zone... I didn't see it... seemed like a questionable call.

-Halloway and the kill unit give a really nice effort and the penalty is killed. Bud hasn't seen a ton of points to this point in the season but he has been solid on the kill all season. As I have said before, special teams are going to be critical to success and the Tbirds kill another penalty.

-Imac gets a cheap shot to the mouth after a whistle in front of the net by Bender and the two of them scrap for a short time. Imac wins the tussle with a few good right hands. Horrible officiating on this one as Imac gets 2 minutes for Checking From Behind (WHERE???) and 5 for fighting while Bender gets 2 for Roughing and 5 for Fighting. I've seen officials even up penalties all the time... but if you're gonna do it at least call it a Roughing on McKenzie because I have no idea where CFB came from.

-Kenton Dulle goes off for Interference and the Tbirds get another PP.

-GOAL! Tbirds get on the board as Jeremy Boyer stays red hot and flips a nice snap shot to the upper corner over the goaltender LeClerc's right shoulder. The play was set up on a thread-the-needle pass by Prab Rai through the top and left side of the penalty killing box that Kamloops had set up. Hickey with the second assist on the pass over to Rai.

-One second later Shattock and Acolatse drop the gloves. Looked to me like Shattock caught Sena with an early right hand and Acolatse ducked away for a few moments before delivering numerous right hands. I think Shattock caught him a few times but I'd still have to give a slight edge to Acolatse on this fight as well as he landed more quality blows.

-Score after 2 periods Seattle leads 1-0, SOG's SEA-18, KAM-18

-Kamloops goal but Pusstinen as he beats Helenius from a weird angle along the left hand board. I couldn't tell if the shot was deflected or if Riku just simply missed the shot because it didn't appear to be too tough from my angle.

-GOAL! Tbirds back in front a short time later as Josh Schappert scores on a breakaway with a nice forehand wrister over the left shoulder of LeClerc. Schappert got in behind the defence on the right hand side and Brenden Dillon put it right on the tape from inside the Seattle zone. These are the type of wonderful hockey plays that weren't possible before they took out the 2 line pass rule. Tbirds lead 2-1.

-Nixon goes off for a High Stick but the Tbirds cannot cash in the PP.

-Wiebe goes off for Interference on a play that may or may not have been a "slight" dive on the part of Benn Olsen. Either way he goes off here with about 11:33 to play but Seattle cannot convert the PP again.

-Helenius makes some excellent stops during the last 10 minutes and Nielsen goes off for Hooking with 2:30 to play.

-Excellent hustle play by Richard results in a penalty for Kamloops at the man advantage is nullified.

-Jackson takes a tripping penalty with 30 seconds to play but Kamloops cannot push through the tying goal and the Tbirds win it 2-1.

-Final SOG's, SEA-29, KAM-25

Let's Go Birds 3 stars of the night

1. Riku Helenius. Not his best game, but he was again solid throughout and made some tough saves when he had to to get the win.
2. Jeremy Boyer. This is a slight nod to his weekend more than this one game, but he cashes in another PP goal to give the Tbirds the initial lead.
3. Justin LeClerc. Obviously didn't get his team the win but made 27 saves and kept Kamloops from giving up more than just 1/8 while being short handed.

Honorable mention... Ian McKenzie, a tough physical game from him all night. Thomas Hickey, what more can you say about this guy. Brenden Dillon, this 16 year old looks very comfortable on the blue line for a kid his age and made a wonderful pass to Schappert for the GWG.


Wednesday Morning Update

Hasn't been a whole lot to blog about the last couple of days... but it feels weird to have not posted anything since the game recap last Saturday. Here are a few notes from around the league.

-Former T-Bird Chris Durand will remain with Saskatoon as one of their 20 year old players. I'm not sure Durand was ever in any real danger of not making the cut, but the Blades have released Curtis Patterson and Michael Kaye trimming their O/A total from 5 to the required 3. The Blades will go with the recently traded Ondrej Fiala, John Flatters and Durand.

Gregg Drinnan has an excellent breakdown of the 20 year old situation for each team the the deadline looming tomorrow.

I will be in Des Moines, Iowa this weekend for a business conference where I am also going to attend an Iowa Stars game on Friday night. I've heard that Aaron Gagnon was to start skating again this week... here's hoping he is recovered enough from that ankle injury to log some ice time on Friday.

As such... I won't have any real live coverage of the two home games this weekend. I will still follow the action as closely as I can and have some thoughts on Sunday or Monday.


Game 4 vs. Kelowna

Tbirds lose tonight in a shootout (shocking huh? aren't we all sick of this) to Kelowna 4-3 tonight. Here is a running tally of my notes as they happened tonight followed by my thoughts on the game tomorrow.

Starting lineups... Jacob Deserres is in net tonight on the second night of a back to back. Jackson, Olsen, Schappert, Scott and Nielsen are your starting 5.

- Tbirds are sloppy early but earn a PP at the 16:06 mark on the first. Kelowna has come out with a much more focused effort and the Tbirds haven't quite responded yet. First line PP is Eberle, O'Brien, Holloway with Hickey and Rai to start but don't produce any real dangerous chances.

-12:42 left in the 1st, Deserres can't quit get his pads sealed on a sharp angle shot and it sneaks through. Hood with the goal, assists go to Leavold and St. Denis.

-Tbirds get another PP and Hickey is leading the energy level back to where Kelowna is... two strong rushes by Eberle earn the Tbirds another penalty and a 5-3 PP chance.

-Hickey gets on the board scoring through a screen on the 5-3 with Prab Rai getting the assist. The goal comes before the second penalty is out and the PP continues.

-Few minutes later Hickey is caught in the mouth with a High Stick from Evan Bloodoff (the older one) and 30 seconds later the Tbirds cash in with a goal from Jim O'Brien (1st career WHL goal) on a nice feed from Eberle.

-Scott Jackson seems to be pressing a little bit.. perhaps trying to do too much. I think he needs to just settle down and play his usual solid game.

-McKenzie with a slashing penalty and Kelowna goes on the PP.

-Olsen and Leavold engage in a little verbal "conversation"... no doubt making an appointment for an engagement later in the game. Referee Thompson skates over to the Kelowna bench to tell Leavold to "shut up".

-Seconds late Olsen takes an interference penalty and the Tbirds are killing a 5-3... not a really smart penalty there with 3:04 left.

-Deserres makes the initial save but St. Denis is there to bang home the rebound from a tough angle. Not a lot Jake could do about that one... and again you can't put yourself in 5-3 situations or you are bound to give up goals.

-1st period ends tied 2-2, SOG: Sea- 7 Kel- 10

-Much better energy from the Tbirds to start the second but cannot take the lead. Kelowna generates some chances and Deserres is up to the challenge. Jake looked uncomfortable to me in the 1st period but seemed to settle in nicely in the 2nd.

-Holding penalty to Isak Quakenbush, he REALLY needs to work on staying out of the box. Not a penalty that needed to be taken.

-Another nice save on a drive from the point by Deserres who is keeping the Tbirds in the game on these penalty kills.

-Nice rush by Hickey nearly sneaks in a backhand past Westblom.

-Cross Checking penalty to Dillon... this again was another penalty I thought was undisciplined by the Tbirds with 7:50 to play in the 2nd.

-The Dillon penalty is over for 9 seconds and O'Brien picks up a silly Interference penalty. I thought the call was weak, but still... you can't put yourself in those situations to allow the referee to make a silly call. Deserres again is solid killing the penalty.

-Just 15 seconds after killing the penalty St. Denis scores for Kelowna by bouncing the puck off Deserres from a negative angle behind the net. Puck barely trickles over and Kelowna leads 3-2. Even though 2 of the Kelowna goals haven't been pretty... I think they have earned the lead up to this point.

-Little scrum by the benches results in 2 penalties to Bernhardt and only 1 to Chaffin and the Tbirds get another PP.

-1 minute into the PP O'Brien is tagged with his second Interference call (is the officiating different in the NCAA's??).

-2nd period ends with Kelowna leading 3-2 and outshooting the Tbirds 24-10. Only 3 shots on goal in the period for the Tbirds... That will happen when you are penalty killing the entire period.

-Tbirds really need to get it going here to protect home ice in the 3rd.

-Almond goes off for Interference that feels a little like a makeup call for the one on O'Brien but the Tbirds cannot score. They have picked up the energy and are looking good for the tie.

-Leavold and Jackson fight with 12:42 left. You can look at this two ways... either Leavold is smart for baiting Jackson into a fight and the trade off is worse for Seattle having Jackson off... OR Leavold's been looking for a fight the last two nights, takes on a guy who doesn't normal fight... LOSES the fight (in my opinion) and maybe just gave Seattle a lift. Maybe you should actually take Olsen up on that fight next time?

-Sure enough... the Tbirds look energized by Jackson's effort and O'Brien makes a beautiful feed to Eberle in the slot and we are tied at 3-3. I would say on the whole that was a bad fight by Leavold.

-Olsen picks up a Cross Check with 10:05 to play, but Jamie Benn cancels that out :40 later with a Holding call.

-Seattle nearly scores to take the lead but settles for another PP as Bloodoff is sent off for a Cross Check.

-Schappert with a big hit in the offensive zone and has played well again tonight despite no points thus far. Schappert and Boyer hustle all over the place and its nice to see... hopefully it will pay off in more point for both down the road.

-Both teams hold on for the tie and we head to OT tied at 3-3. Shots are in favor of Kelowna 35-17.

-Great pass by O'Brien in the 1st minute of OT to Holloway but the angle is shut down nicely by Westblom and he covers up.

-No other great chances in the OT and we head to the shootout where the Tbirds were 0-11 last year.

Seattle shoots first...

Eberle - No Goal on a shot
Almond - No Goal on a shot
O'Brien - No Goal on a deke backhand (the puck rolled for a while and had trouble getting flat)
Benn - No Goal shot wide
Holloway - No Goal deke to the backhand
Long - No Goal deke to the forehand
Rai - No Goal shot to the 5-hole
Hood - Goal forehand deke

Kelowna wins 4-3 in SO

Seattle drops to 2-0-2 with 6 out of 8 possible points.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1st Star - Kyle St. Denis... 3 points in the winning effort
2nd Star - Jan Eberle... strong overall game and had the tying goal.
3rd Star - Jim O'Brien... another nice game, another 2 points for OB.

Honorable mention to Jake Deserres, Dylan Hood, Bud Holloway

Scoresheet three stars were a little different...

1. St. Denis
2. DeSerres
3. Holloway

Saturday Morning Update

I didn't post a three stars of the game from last night, since I was really only able to watch the last 15 mintues of the game.

The Kelowna guys gave the three stars to:

1. Thomas Hickey
2. Jim O'Brien
3. Cody Almond

I'd say you throw in Helenius for a mention to go along with Lindsey Nielsen.

Other notes from around the US Division:

-Mucha made 31 saves and Portland doubled their scoring total for the year going from 3 to 6 as they shut out Everett in the "cable box" 3-0. Everett is now tied with Hawks for 5th in the US.

-T.J. Fast scored the OT winner and Tri-City beat Spokane 4-3. Kruise Reddick, who is on fire, had another goal and leads the league in points at 15. The Ams are now 6-1-0 on the season the Chiefs fall to 3-1-1.


Game 3 at Kelowna

My good buddy Sean Runnels and I have been experiencing some major technically difficulties trying to dial up the internet broadcast so I apologize for the lack of updates.

Tbirds lead 3-1 after two periods as Greg Scott, Thomas Hickey and Ian McKenzie have scored for the Birds.

I'll be back with more later as I just got the internet back working.

With roughly 10 minutes to play the Tbirds has lost momentum but still hold a 3-1 lead. Most of the action has been in the Tbirds end for a good portion of the last 8 minutes but Kelowna has not been able to generate very many really good scoring chances.

Lindsey Nielsen scores a nifty empty net goal to ice the game for the Tbirds. He banged the puck around a forward and then beat a D man to the outside for the easy tuck into the back of the net.

I had so many internet issues tonight that I can't really describe a lot of the action for myself but this is exactly the type of game the Tbirds like to win. Score a couple of early goals, get the lead, get solid D and goaltending and win a relatively low scoring game.

Riku Helenius again was solid between the pipes... I'm so impressed with his calm nature in net. He never looks rattled, never looks panicked but at the same time doesn't look slow or lazy. Hes quick without needing to seem like in a rush to make a save.

Jim O'Brien is going to be a nice addition to this time. OB ended the night with 2 assists and from the parts of the game that I saw looked very comfortable on that 1st line with Holloway and Eberle (EE-ber-lee according to the Kelowna announcer).

Overall the Tbirds end 1/5 on the PP and kill 6/7 PP's for Kelowna. Lindsey Nielsen's empty net goal game on the 4-6 so they will get credit for another shorthanded goal. Special teams are going to be critical all year and I thought both units looked pretty good again tonight. I believe that is the 3rd shorthanded goal of the year so far for the Tbirds.

Saturday night the Tbirds are back in action against Kelowna at home. I'll have a recap probably late on Saturday night.

Tbirds now 2-0-1 on the season with 5 points of 6 possible.

Friday Game Day Update

Few items to note before tonight. As per usual I will be watching the game and doing live game reports as it goes on for those of you who want to share your thoughts.

The Silvertips won their first game the other night over Spokane and some of you know that Zach Dailey was injured in the game and sent to the hospital as a result of a hit from Justin Falk. Falk received a Major and a GM for charging but the league has since reviewed the game tape and not only did they not suspend Falk but they rescinded both penalties.

Fortunately, Nick Patterson over at the Everett Herald ( reports that Dailey was diagnosed with a concussion and will be out for at least a couple of weeks. For those of you that saw the hit, it has to be considered good news that the injury isn't worse.

Also of note in that game was the "Michigan" goal scored by Kyle Beach. If you do a little digging you can find the video of the game and watch both the goal and the hit. Say what you will about Kyle Beach, but the goal is one of the most impressive things you will ever see.

Also (sorry for all the Tips news!) the Silvertips traded Ondrej Fiala to Saskatoon for a conditional 3rd round bantam pick in 2009 which is pretty good value for an O/A Import when everyone in the league knows they needed to unload a guy. The Tips are now down to 2 Imports and 4 O/A players, but with David Reekie suffering from mono the Tips will get a roster exemption until he is healthy.

Which Kelowna team will show up tonight to play the Tbirds in Kelowna?? The team that lost to Vancouver 5-0 in their last game? Or the team that upset the Silvertips in Everett 6-4?

We'll find out...

The Rockets in the past week have aquired two interesting players this week. Jamie Benn joins the team after leaving the Victoria Grizzles where he scored 42 goals in the BCHL last year. The Rockets also traded for 20 year old Brady Leavold. Leavold had 55 points to go along with 12 fights last year for Swift Current. The move means the Kelowna now has 4 O/A players in Captain James McEwan, Goaltender Kristofer Westblom and Lyon Messier (yes that Messier).

Either way it appears that Kelowna will be parting with an interesting name before the O/A deadline next week.


Bakken Reassigned

D-man Brad Bakken was reassigned to the Langley Cheifs of the BCHL this morning.

This might signal the end of his career as a Thunderbird. Bakken was a slight surprise for a roster spot as a 17 year old last year and management clearly felt he hadn't shown enough progress as an 18 year old to merit keeping a roster spot.

I suspect this is a sign that Sena Acolatse is back in the good graces of the coaching staff (for what reason he was not is unknown) and Bakken merely became the odd man out.

This also likely signals more ice time and a high level of confidence in young Defensemen Steve Chaffin and Brenden Dillon.

With Jeremy Schappert out until possibly January with his second shoulder surgery, the Tbirds now have only 6 healthy defensemen. I have a feeling the Tbirds aren't quite done tinkering with the roster yet...

Official press release can be found here...


Regression to the Mean

More details in the morning... but Everett is no longer winless and Spokane and Tri Cities are no longer undefeated.

Everett - 4
Spokane - 0

Prince George - 5
Tri Cities - 2

Quick Wednesday Morning Update

Anyone else think that maybe the Ams are for real??

The Ams won the first of their two in Prince George last night and are now 5-0 to start the season. They got 3 points out of Kruise Reddick, Yellow Horn and Vey and Chet Pickard made 39 saves as they defeated P.G. 5-2.

Reddick now has 4 goals and 8 assists in those 5 victories for the Ams.

Swift Current defeated Lethbridge 3-1 matching their current record of 2-1 while Lethbridge falls to .500 at 3-3.

Medicine Hat got two goals from Ennis and Ringrose and defeated P.A. 6-2. The Hat is now 3-1-1 on the season while the Raiders fall to 1-3-1.


Andre Herman released

Just announced by the Thunderbirds is the release of 20 year old Andre Herman.

Personally this comes as a very big surprise to me considering that Herman has been healthy and Ian McKenzie has not been for several weeks now. I like both McKenzie and Herman but I have always felt that Herman was a very underrated player who did a lot of the little things that people didn't tend to notice. McKenzie skated at practice today which would seem to indicate that he is very close to returning to games.

In the end, Farwell seems to really like players with size. Ryan Gibbons and Isak Quakenbush being the most obvious examples from the last couple of years. It looks like he couldn't bear the thought of losing a forward the size of McKenzie (6'5").

With this move the TBirds get down to their allotted 3 O/A players.

Here is the official press release

Jim O'Brien Cleared

O'Brien has been cleared to practice and will be with the team for this weekends games against Kelowna.

O'Brien likely fits in as the line 2 center, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him center line 1 or move to a wing on either of those lines.

Here is the official press release by the team

Cody Hanson traded to Regina

The Tbirds announced this morning the trading of Cody Hanson to Regina. The team will receive a conditional selection in the 2009 Bantam Draft.

Hanson had been a disappointment to the team after being a first round selection in the 2005 Bantam Draft. Hanson had been a healthy scratch in the first two games and had been a mild surprise to have made the team this year in the first place.

The official press release can be found here.


Monday Morning

Not a lot to report on this morning. I'm working on finding out a reason why Sena Acolatse was a healthy scratch for the home opener on Saturday night.

Also... with the Tbirds getting set to play Kelowna twice this weekend (in Kelowna Friday, Home Saturday) I am going to link to Regan Bartel's blog about the Rockets. Regan is the Rocket's play by play man and keeps a very nice blog about the team.

I think its "possible" that Jim O'Brien will join the team this week... but I wouldn't count on anything until we actually see him over at Kingsgate.

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