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Hockey Challenge 2014

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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


Comment Answer

Question was asked about the start time for the game tomorrow and my comment about scheduling.

The way the WHL scheduling works is that teams request dates and opponents in an orderly fashion. I've obviously never sat in on this process so I can't tell you exactly how it would go.

Home games vs. Portland are obviously big for the TBirds because they can draw a much bigger crowd than a different opponent or a different day. So they would like to play Saturday home games against Portland as much as possible.

Additionally.... they wouldn't have wanted to give up a Saturday home date vs. Portland because the Huskies are on the road (just another draw away from hockey). They also wouldn't have wanted to start the game at 7:05 with a 466 mile bus ride to Cranbook facing them before a 5:00 game the next day. If you assume the bus ride is about 8 or 9 hours it would have been a pretty tough trip to leave at 11pm from the Key and arrive in Cranbrook around 8am on the same day as a game. The 2:05 start just gives them plenty of time to make it to Cranbrook and give the boys a decent night's rest before Sunday's game.

Hope that answers the question.

Weekend Games

This weekend proves to be an interesting one for Seattle.

They begin the weekend with a rare 2:05 afternoon start time vs. the Portland Winterhawks. Seattle needed to start this game at 2:05 to avoid losing a Saturday home game in November vs. their I-5 rival. They are then scheduled to hit the bus directly following the game and head to Cranbrook where they play Kooteney in Cranbrook at 5pm on Sunday evening. Tough turn around...

I would expect to see some 15 year old call-up's on this eastern road swing with 6 games in 8 days. Seattle is off on Monday and Thursday on the trip.

Also interesting is the fact that we will all need a brand new roster sheet in order to tell who is playing for Portland tomorrow night as they traded away 5 players yesterday in exchange for 7 new players.

Let's hope the boys can get the trip started right with a home win over the 3-15 Winterhawks and circle the wagons on their 8 day Alberta swing.


Will Farwell make a move? Injury update, Reekie update

Yesterday's big news (besides Kamloops firing their coach/G.M.) was the Blazers trading their 1st round NHL draft pick Keaton Ellerby to Moose Jaw for former Silvertip Brady Calla. The swap of 19 year olds made some sense for the Blazers after Ellerby was a healthy scratch for the struggling Blazers the other day.

Why is Seattle not in on this deal? My suspicion is that they were but for whatever reason Moose Jaw's offer of Calla was better than whatever Seattle wanted to offer.

Something has to give as Seattle still has only 5 D on the active roster and Scott Jackson not expected back until after the conclusion of the Road Swing.

No update yet on the injury to Josh Schappert but the fear is that it might be more serious than initially thought. How long will he be out?? I don't know... but it appears that he will not play this weekend at the very least.

Also... it appears that Everett will be given a week to figure out their O/A situation with David Reekie set to come off the 60 day Disabled List tomorrow. Personally... I don't understand why Everett is allowed extra time. 60 days isn't enough time to figure out what to do with him? This means that Everett will be allowed 4 O/A players for a full 7 days longer (actively) than any other WHL team and I think that is a poor decision on the leagues part.

Why should the Silvertips be afforded the luxury of an extra week when teams have known for several weeks now that Reekie was healthy. Comments?

Edit: Everett has apparently placed Reekie on waivers and this has been confirmed by Nick Patterson's Blog


Tuesday Morning Update

I'm going to steal a few items from other bloggers around the league... but they are nice items and I wanted to share.

Alan Caldwell did a quick study of winning percentage as it relates to the average age of the teams in the WHL. One would think that age would have a correlation to winning percentage (and for Seattle that is the case) where older teams have better records... There are however a few exceptions such as Vancouver and Tri City. I knew the Tbirds were a bit on the young side, I had no idea they were the 2nd youngest team in the league. This probably explains a lot about the inconsistency thus far.

The numbers: (number in brackets after age and win% is league rank in that category)
Spokane: Avg age: 18.087 (7); Win%: 0.806 (1)
Vancouver: Avg age: 17.875 (19); Win%: 0.725 (2)
Tri-City: Avg age: 17.875 (18); Win%: 0.722 (3)
Medicine Hat: Avg age: 18.077 (11); Win%: 0.684 (4)
Swift Current: Avg age: 18.091 (5); Win%: 0.658 (5)
Regina: Avg age: 18.083 (8); Win%: 0.650 (6)
Moose Jaw: Avg age: 18.042 (14); Win%: 0.647 (7)
Calgary: Avg age: 18.08 (9); Win%: 0.625 (8)
Chilliwack: Avg age: 18.125 (3); Win%: 0.611 (9)
Brandon: Avg age: 18 (15); Win%: 0.605 (10)
Everett: Avg age: 18.217 (1); Win%: 0.588 (11)
Lethbridge: Avg age: 18.043 (12); Win%: 0.579 (12)
Seattle: Avg age: 17.826 (21); Win%: 0.567 (13)
Kelowna: Avg age: 17.783 (22); Win%: 0.529 (14)
Edmonton: Avg age: 18.19 (2); Win%: 0.528 (15)
Prince George: Avg age: 18.125 (4); Win%: 0.5 (16)
Kootenay: Avg age: 17.958 (16); Win%: 0.476 (17)
Kamloops: Avg age: 18.087 (6); Win%: 0.406 (18)
Prince Albert: Avg age: 18.043 (13); Win%: 0.368 (19)
Saskatoon: Avg age: 17.913 (17); Win%: 0.324 (20)
Red Deer: Avg age: 17.826 (20); Win%: 0.286 (21)
Portland: Avg age: 18.08 (10); Win%: 0.167 (22)

Also out today was the weekly WHL Rankings: Seattle was voted 13th which is also probably about right at this point. Rankings are courtesy of Gregg Drinnan

The Western Major Junior Hockey Writers weekly rankings of WHL teams, showing last week’s ranking, first-place votes and total points (22 points for first-place vote, 21 for second and so on):

1. (2) Spokane Chiefs (15) 393
2. (1) Vancouver Giants (3) 378
3. (4) Tri-City Americans 360
4. (3) Medicine Hat Tigers 331
5. (6) Regina Pats 326
6. (8) Swift Current Broncos 297
7. (5) Calgary Hitmen 289
8. (9) Moose Jaw Warriors 255
9. (12) Brandon Wheat Kings 249
10. (11) Everett Silvertips 235
11. (7) Chilliwack Bruins 224
12. (13) Lethbridge Hurricanes 199
13. (10) Seattle Thunderbirds 196
14. (15) Kelowna Rockets 152
15. (18) Prince George Cougars 143
16. (16) Kootenay Ice 138
17. (17) Edmonton Oil Kings 105
18. (14) Kamloops Blazers 95
19. (19) Prince Albert Raiders 73
20. (21) Saskatoon Blades 57
21. (20) Red Deer Rebels 40
22. (22) Portland Winter Hawks 19

(Voters: Everett Herald, Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman-Review, Chilliwack Progress, Kamloops Daily News, Kelowna Capital News, Kelowna Daily Courier, Kootenay NewsAdvertiser, Calgary Sun, Red Deer Advocate, Lethbridge Herald, Swift Current Prairie Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Prince Albert Daily Herald, Brandon Sun, Moose Jaw Times-Herald, Prince George Citizen, Medicine Hat News.)


Game 15 Recap vs. Spokane

Make it a perfect 3-0 for the Spokane Chiefs as the Thunderbirds fall tonight to Spokane 5-3.

The good news is that Seattle finally scored on Dustin Tokarski and it only took them :55 seconds to do so. Ian McKenzie made a nice little "extra pass" to Jim O'Brien who nets his 3rd of the year and an early 1-0 lead for Seattle.

Spokane answered at the 9:07 mark in a sign of what was to come scoring a Power Play goal to tie the game at 1-1. Mitch Wahl got the goal as Spokane did a really nice job getting the puck in deep on Seattle and putting a lot of pressure on Helenius in the crease and at the goal-mouth.

Bruton then converted his first of two goals and the second PP goal for spokane at the 11:35 mark of the 1st.

Seattle answered with a nice PP goal by Lindsey Nielsen who flicked a Greg Scott pass up over the shoulder of Tokarski to tie the game at 2-2 at the 19:38 mark of the 1st period. Spokane outshot Seattle 12-7 in the 1st period.

Spokane then spent nearly the entire period in the Seattle zone and if not for several very good saves by Helenius the game could have been out of control. Instead Spokane managed only the go-ahead goal by Bruton, his 9th of the year, at the 5:21 mark of the 2nd period.

Spokane outshot seattle 16-2 in the 2nd period and held a 28-9 advantage through two periods.

Spokane comes at you in waves as they have numerous good scorers and playmakers and a very solid D core.

Seattle managed to tie the game at the 10:19 on a goal by Jeremy Boyer who managed to power in a rebound past Tokarski as he was caught out of position trying to play a wrap behind the net.

With 9 minutes to play it looked as though Seattle might be able to manage a point out of a game they really had no business being in but Spokane changed that only about a minute later when Drayson Bowman was able to make Seattle pay for a 5-3 Power Play opportunity at the 11:33 mark of the 3rd. Bowman got clear in the slot and wired in a sweet wrist shot into the very top corner of the net over the glove hand of Helenius.

Ulmer then made it elementary with the first goal of his WHL career on a slap shot from the right point over the blocker shoulder of Helenius at the 16:18 mark of the 3rd.

Normally when a goalie is being beaten this many times over his shoulders and into the top corners it means that he is being pushed back into his net and isn't able to successfully cut down the shooting angle. This is normally a sign of generally poor defending from both the D-men AND the wingers.

Spokane finished with a 40-16 advantage in shots on goal. Helenius finishes 35/40 and Tokarski 13/16.

With the 5-3 win, Spokane moves to 13-2-3, 29 points and a .806 point percentage and that is good for 1st in all of the WHL. Seattle falls to 7-5-3, 17 points and a .567 point percentage which is good for only 3rd in the U.S. Division. Suddenly the Silvertips have closed on Seattle with a point percentage of .562 they are nearly tied for 3rd. Fortunately for both Everett and Seattle there appears to be no race for the 4th spot as Portland is now 3-15 with 6 points and would need to really turn things around to contend for that 4th and final spot.

Final thoughts.... I just think that at this point in the season Spokane is a much better hockey team than Seattle and it showed in both games this weekend. The TBirds game is to be a fast team that uses their skating to play solid D and create a few chances and Spokane really beat them at their own game by looking like the better skating team.

I'm not saying that Seattle can't close the gap, but I would say Spokane is at least as good if not better than Vancouver in teams I have seen this season and I would think those two would be the top two teams in the Western Conference and maybe the WHL right now.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. Drayson Bowman, 1 goal and 3 assists and had the game winner.
2. Mitch Wahl, 1 goal and 3 assists also in the win.
3. Chris Bruton, 2 goals in the win.

Honorable Mention.... Greg Scott, 2 assists in the losing effort and that line of Nielsen, Holloway and Scott looked good again tonight. Riku Helenius, tried his best to keep Seattle in it and there were just too many shots and chances to succeed.

Absent this list is Thomas Hickey for the first time all year and I thought he struggled for the first time all year. I have to wonder aloud whether the number of minutes he is being asked to log each weekend is starting to take its toll in the 3rd game in 3 nights. Seattle has 11! 3 game weekends this year that is more than the 9 they had in 06-07 and I can't think Seattle can afford to go on this roadtrip without picking up some 15's or 16's D-men to help out on the trip.

Stars in the Arena:
1. Bowman
2. Bruton
3. Wahl


Game 14 vs. Tri City Recap

Tbirds win tonight in dramatic fashion and what better way to break a 3 game losing streak than to break it in this way.

For 40 minutes tonight this game looked like the exact blueprint for a Rob Sumner type victory.... and then the 3rd period happened and Seattle won in a very not Rob Sumner system type of game.

Seattle took the lead at the 3:33 mark of the 1st period when Ian McKenzie made a nice move into the American zone and put a shot on goal to the right of Chet Pickard, the rebound went to the sharp angle where Thomas Hickey swooped in and poked a shot towards the near post that snuck between the post and Pickard's right shoulder and into the net.

Bud Holloway made it 2-0 Seattle at the :31 second mark of the 2nd period on a beautiful exchange between Scott and Holloway. Holloway brought the puck into the zone on a criss-cross with Scott to the left hand side and flipped a pass to the far post where Scott (on his backside) managed to slide the puck back to the other post where Holloway snuck it in on the sharp angle.

Tri then got on the scoreboard with a goal by Procyshen at the 13:33 mark, is was his 11th of the year.

Procyshen then tied the game at 7:02 of the 3rd period when Seattle got caught in a bad line change and Procyshen went in all alone on DeSerres for the game tying goal. A horrible breakdown by the Tbirds at the worst possible moment.

Seattle then battled back and took the lead at the 8:15 mark of the 3rd period on a goal by Greg Scott. Holloway made another great play in the American zone and managed to get the puck to Lindsey Nielsen who fed it across the slot to Scott for the go-ahead marker.

Tri City tied it nearly 3 minutes later on a goal by Colton Yellow Horn who snapped in the tying goal over the right shoulder of DeSerres at the 11:16 mark of the 3rd.

Yellow Horn then put Tri City in front with little over 3:30 minutes to play with a deflection goal coming off the pass of Kruise Reddick. Yellow Horn's 2nd of the night and 7th of the year game Tri City their first lead of the game.

Holloway and the Tbirds then started their march back at the 17:15 mark of the 3rd when Nielsen brought the puck to the right circle where the Am defender took him off the puck but lost it to Holloway who deposited a quicker wrister under the glove of Pickard to tie the score.

Seattle looked headed to OT (as usual) until Thomas Hickey brought the puck from his own blue line down the left hand side of the rink and around the American D where he puck a quick, hard and low shot to the low glove side of Pickard. The rebounded bounded out to a streaking Holloway who completed the Hat Trick by burying the puck into the back of the net and giving the Tbirds a 5-4 lead with :33 seconds to play.

Holloway then completed his night and the game with an empty net marker with :05 seconds to play on a pass from Lindsey Nielsen. His 4th of the night (and also a natural Hat Trick) gave Holloway 4 goals for the game, 5 points for the night and 14 for the season, completing the Thunderbird comeback and an end to the 3 game losing streak.

Seattle finished with an edge in shots on goal 25-22 over Tri City for the game.

Jacob DeSerres finishes 18/22 and Chet Pickard finishes 20/25 (even though the WHL scoreboard says 19/25 and apparently did not accurately record the empty net goal, I know feel Andy Kemper's complaint).

Needless to say this was a pretty big win for Seattle. I never want to say that a game at the #14 mark is THAT big of a win but to stop a 3 game losing streak on home ice against the team in 1st place in your division is a big win early in the season. Couple that with the fact that you had the lead, lost it, and regained to take the game is an important thing.

An added note... this was a horribly officiated game. I don't say that from a one sided prospective. This was, on both sides, horrible. Seattle wa called for ONE minor and Tri City for TWO minors, one of which was the over the glass DOG call. Seriously Matt Kirk... I just saw a WHL game where only two penalties were committed all game? Seriously? Horribly called game. There were at least 2 high sticking calls on each side that were missed. Simply horrible.

Seattle moves to 7-4-3, 17 pts, .607 good for 3rd in the U.S. Division.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. Bud Holloway, 4 goals and 1 assist and a +5 rating and was simple a force all over the ice tonight.
2. Colton Yellow Horn, his 2 goals were more important than Procyshen's so I give him the 2nd star.
3. Greg Scott, 1 goal and 2 assists and had a great game on the Holloway, Nielsen line.

Honorable Mention: Procychen, had 2 goals and could have very easily been #2 or #3. Lindsey Nielsen, 3 assists and had his best game at a Tbird on that line. Thomas Hickey, 1 goal and 2 assist for the best D-man I have seen in the league this year.

Game 13 Recap

Last night's game was so frustrating that honestly I didn't have the heart to do any live updates.

Tbirds lose again last night 3-0 to Spokane and if this were Soccer they would be down 5-0 on aggregate (ask me if you don't understand that one).

Seattle is now officially in a slump having lost 3 straight and scored only two goals in their last 180 minutes of hockey.

I am a big defender of coach Rob Sumner's style of play... I think it allows the team to stay competitive in almost every single game and at the end of the season allows you to accumulate more points based on the number of games that Seattle manages to get to overtime and earn an extra point. The problem is that this system hinges on being able to play solid D, good goaltender play and timely scoring and if those things aren't happening you see a lot of low scoring losses like we have seen in the past three.

Seattle isn't playing particularly good D right now having surrendered another 40+ shots to an opponent last night. They are getting good goaltending as you can't really fault Riku Helenius for any of the goals except perhaps the 2nd goal. As for timely scoring... well obviously there is nearly none right now.

I'm hoping the team is just going through a bit of a slump right now, but perhaps they aren't as good as we thought they were? Spokane looked awfully solid last night at home in winning their 9th game in a row. The next two games loom as pretty big with Tri City and Spokane coming in for two home games. Hopefully the team can turn it around on home ice.


Game 13 Preview at Spokane

I'll have the video feed up and running on the T.V. tonight so I should be able to provide some live game updates as we go along.

Seattle is 6-3-3, 15 pts. (.625) which is good for 3rd in the U.S. Division and 5th in the Western Conference. Spokane enters the contest 11-2-2, 24 pts. (.800) which is good for 1st in both the U.S. Division and Western Conference. They are also undefeated in regulation on their home ice at 5-0-1. They have won 8 games in a row including a 2-0 victory in Spokane last weekend over the T-Birds. Seattle is losers of 2 straight.

I would expect to see Riku Helenius in goal for Seattle, but I have no idea on the goaltender for Spokane as Kevin Armstrong would technically be their #1 with Dustin Tokarski coming off a shutout over Seattle last weekend.

Spokane is lead by Drayson Bowman (10-8-18), Chris Bruton (5-11-16) and Mitch Wahl (4-12-16). Jared Spurgeon leads the team with a +11 rating followed by Jared Cowen at +11 as a rookie.

Seattle is lead by Thomas Hickey (5-7-12) who is averaging a point per game. Hickey had a point streak of 10 games (to start the season) snapped in Spokane last week with the 2-0 shutout. Prab Rai (0-9-9) and Bud Holloway (3-6-9) are tied for 2nd in points for Seattle. Hickey also leads the team with a +4 rating.

As usual Special Teams will be critical to the outcome of the game. Seattle ranks 21st out of 22 teams on the Power Play in the WHL. After showing some Power Play success through the first 7 games Seattle is now 12/89 good for 13.5% on the power play. Is it really as bad as the numbers seem to indicate?

I did a little number crunching research and Seattle still ranks #2 in the league at earning PP chances at 7.417 chances per game. Only Everett earns more per game at 7.467 per game.

They also rank #14 in PP goals per game. So the numbers may not be quite as bad as the #21 ranked PP would suggest, but there is no question that Seattle isn't capitalizing on their numerous opportunities.

Spokane ranks 10th on the PP having converted 16/85 for 18.8% but rank 16th in earning chances and 12th in PP goals per game. I would contend that Spokane's PP hasn't been much more of a factor than Seattle's.

Seattle ranks 4th in the WHL at killing PP's. They have killed 62/72 for 86.1%.
Spokane ranks 7th in the WHL at killing PP's. They have killed 67/79 for 84.8%.

About equal there.

I have one and only one key to the game.

-Seattle MUST get off to a fast start and earn the lead at the end of the 1st period. Spokane is 8-0 when leading after the 1st and 8-0 when leading after the 2nd.

Prediction: Seattle cannot be expected to win this game on the road against a team that is super hot and unbeaten (in Reg.) at home. At the risk of sounding like a complete homer though, I'm going to predict that Seattle bounces back from a disappointing end to last weekend and gets out of Spokane with a tight 3-1 victory.

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