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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Tbirds drop one to the Tips on the road

Seattle loses tonight 2-0 up at the Comcast Arena to the Silvertips and the race for 4th place gets just a little bit tighter.

Let's face it the atmosphere in Everett for games between these two teams is electric right now and that made it very difficult to win on the road and Seattle just couldn't get off the the fast start that would be necessary for that situation.

Tbirds give up 23 shots in the first period and if not for Jacob DeSerres would have been in a much bigger hole than the 1-0 hole they were in.

Then Everett gets a quick goal about 2 minutes into the 2nd period on a puck that should have been cleared out of the crease area and the rest was Leland Irving.

Irving tonight ties the WHL Career shutout record held by former Tbird Bryan Bridges at 21 and he was really excellent all night but especially in the 1st and 2nd periods while Everett was building their 2-0 lead.

Seattle gets back to work tomorrow night with a special 6:05 start time with the Hockey Challenge celebrity game going on after the Tbirds. Seattle will face a rested Kelowna team who is hot on their heals and especially after the Birds fail to earn any points tonight.

You knew the race would get tight....

Three Stars of the Game... I agree with the box...

1. Leland Irving
2. Dane Crowley
3. Jacob DeSerres

Friday Update

Big weekend coming up here for the Tbirds who are in Everett (6th) tonight and then host the Kelowna Rockets (5th) tomorrow night at the Key.

4 points by Seattle this weekend wouldn't lock up the 4th spot and home ice, but would make it very difficult for either team to catch the Tbirds.

Let's open up a little debate here....

What team would Seattle rather face in the first round? or what might be the best matchup? and what teams do you think are a bad matchup for Seattle, either in the West or the entire WHL?


Quick note today...

Former Tbird Gavin McHale was named the top goaltender in the MJHL yesterday. Seattle fans will remember that McHale stands at 6'7" tall and played in 33 games over 2 seasons with the Tbirds.

McHale went 10-16-1 with a save percentage of .897.

Story can be found here...


Big weekend for the Birds...

I was away on vacation this weekend and couldn't post... It was a big weekend for the Tbirds as they get a huge win up in Kelowna to pass the Rockets for 4th place and then finish the weekend with another "take care of business" win over the Winterhawks in front of 8300 plus at the Key.

Kelowna earned two huge points tonight in Vancouver by winning in a shootout 3-2. Even with the 2 points, Seattle still has a 1 point lead with 1 game in hand over the Rockets.

The win by Kelowna also keeps them 3 points clear of Everett for 5th. We're getting dangerously close to a first round matchup between the Everett and Seattle.

Tbirds have another big weekend coming up with a trip to Everett on Friday and the Rockets coming to town Saturday.


I was wondering about that...

Attending the Seattle game in Everett last Saturday I wondered aloud about the vicious nature of the hit that Steve Chaffin took and resulted in a concussion.

When I initially saw the hit I thought it was unnecessarily high and to the head, but no penalty was called.

Apparently the league agreed with my version of the event and not that of the officials.
This courtesy of Gregg Drinnan's blog...

"Everett was without D Graham Potuer, who started serving a two-game suspension. He got hit under supplemental discipline for an unpenalized hit on Seattle D Steve Chaffin on Saturday. Chaffin is out with a concussion."

Tbirds dominate Prince George, now 1 point behind Kelowna

Seattle blasted the Cougars last night 6-1 and now sit only 1 point behind Kelowna. The Tbirds got off to a really fast start, let by Prab Rai and Jim O’Brien. For Rai the 2 goals and 1 assist give him 52 points in 60 games on the season and he looked extra motivated facing his former team. Rai now has 14 points in his last 11 games, with 7 of his 13 goals on the season coming during this stretch.

For O’Brien, one can understand why O’Brien gathered a few “overrated” votes in the Best in the West poll when the voting happened over a month ago. If the voting were to happen again right now, my guess is that he wouldn’t be listed on any “overrated” ballots. O’Brien now has 42 points in 58 games and 13 points in his last 9 games.

Seattle now sits at 33-20-7, 73 points and .608 point percentage. They have finally caught Kelowna in games played and the Rockets have 74 points. With Everett losing a shootout to Spokane last night at Comcast Arena, the Tbirds stay 2 points ahead of the Tips with 2 games in hand.

Game Recaps can be found in these places.


Huge win for the Thunderbirds...

A night after getting pummeled in Everett the Tbirds found a way to bounce back with a come from behind victory over the Tri City Americans at the Key last night.

Seattle came out with some great effort to start the game and got a nice tipped in Power Play goal from Greg Scott to lead 1-0.

The Ams tied it at 1-1 with a PP goal by Yellow Horn late in the period and it felt a bit frustrating to be only tied 1-1 after the effort of the 1st period.
That frustration only continued in the 2nd period as Seattle again put forth a good period only to find themselves down 3-2 at the break.
The Tbirds continued to pound the net time after time and finally broke through with 5 minutes left in the game as Lindsey Nielsen wired in a rebound perfectly into the top corner over the shoulder of Am goaltender Chet Pickard and tie the game at 3-3.

Seattle was able to take advantage of their momentum and had several scoring chances in the last few minutes but couldn't quite break through. Jim O'Brien had a chance to win the game with a semi-breakaway in the last 20 seconds and was pulled down by Jarrett Toll and Seattle carried a Power Play into the Overtime. Fans wanted a penalty shot but I thought it was the correct call and Toll was at least on O'Brien's hip as he pulled him down.

Seattle then took advantage quickly as Greg Scott fired a shot and send his own rebound into the back of the net only 45 seconds into the extra frame. For Scott it was his 2nd of the night and his 29th of the season putting him on the verge of his first 30 goal season.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. Greg Scott. Great night with 2 goals, 1 assist and the GWG.
2. Colton Yellow Horn. Goal and 2 assists.
3. TJ Fast. Might not be a popular choice with the Tbird fans, but Fast had 2 assists and made several great defensive plays in the game and was +2.

In the Arena:
1. Scott
2. Yellow Horn
3. O'Brien


More thoughts from last night's loss in Everett

Some more thoughts about the game from last night where Seattle was completely dominated after the first 10 minutes of play.
Dan Gendur and Zach Hamill were the best players on the ice all night long and Gendur had a wicked wrist shot working last night.

Everett went after Thomas Hickey as hard as or harder than any team has gone after him this year. Hickey was hammered at each opportunity and they really tried to get him off his game. I'm not sure that Hickey played poorly because of it, but they certainly set the tone for the rest of the game.

Along with the message being clearly sent towards Hickey, Everett just dominated physically all night long. The game plan by Becanic was clearly to hit Seattle in the mouth early and often and it really worked. Seattle just had too many fast (finesse) players and not enough muscle with Ian McKenzie out.
Who would have guessed that Seattle would lose as badly as they did on a night they start 2/2 on the Power Play and end up with 3 PP goals?

Seattle was so sloppy in their own end all night long and they obviously paid the price for doing so.

Riku Helenius' dominance of the Silvertips is over for the time being. I'm sure Riku would love to have some of those shots back. Many times the goals were defensive breakdowns and not solely his fault but when you get beat over the shoulder that many times, it is a sign that you aren't sure of yourself and you are getting sucked back into the net too far and giving up the top corners. Take nothing away from the Silvertips for some really good shots but as a goalie I know that when you don't feel great about your game you tend to seek comfort in getting closer to the net and hoping you can see the puck a half second longer. This, as I stated, tends to leave the corners open and Everett made some great shots to beat him over the shoulder.

The good news is.... its just one game and a strong outing tonight against Tri City would go a long way to erase the memory of last night. Seattle is still in a strong position to earn either 4th or 5th in the Conference and they just need to bounce back to keep that goal in focus.


Why do I bother traveling to Everett...

Make that 0 for 2 for yours truly... In generally just stay away from Everett and watch the game at home and twice now I have gone to games in Everett the past couple of years only to see the boys get whacked.

I'll have full thoughts and recap tomorrow morning as Seattle falls to Everett tonight 8-4 at the Comcast Arena and slip one point behind Everett for 5th place in the West. Double whammy is that Kelowna won and now sits 5 points ahead with only one game in hand.

Tbirds continue to roll, beat Bruins

Seattle rolls on tonight beating Chilliwack 4-1. It might have come at a high price as Ian McKenzie left the game in the 2nd period with an apparent leg injury.

Seattle started the game with some great fire and it paid off when David Richard just flew by both Bruin defenders and scored 5 hole to give Seattle the lead.

That seemed to wake up the Bruins as they really took the action back to Seattle in the next 5 minutes and managed to even the game at 1-1.

Seattle was able to take control of the game with the effort and intensity we have seen lately in the 2nd period as they scored twice and out shot the Bruins 14-8. The first of the two goals came on the extended Power Play after Partik Bhungal was given a 5 minute major for kneeing on McKenzie. Mac lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped off by teammates and trainer. We'll wait to see how severe the injury is. Seattle cannot afford to lose players and especially McKenzie at this stage of the season.

As a result.... at one point Seattle used 3 defensemen up from and had 5 D guys on the ice at one time.
Seattle tacked on a nifty Power Play goal in the 3rd period from Thomas Hickey on a sweet give and go with Bud Holloway. Seattle pretty much had the game in hand at that point and Hickey's marker iced the game.

Seattle is really starting to hit their stride here and losing McKenzie for the year or at least an extended period of time would be tough to overcome.

With the win Seattle moved back to within 3 points of the idle Kelowna Rockets for the 4th spot in the Western Conference. They still have 1 game in hand on the Rockets.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. David Richard. Goal and two assists for Richy and he is really starting to come on strong
2. Jim O'Brien. The eventual winner and added an assist. At times was the best player on the ice.
3. Jacob DeSerres. An overlooked night but he made 27 saves on 28 shots and was solid for the win.

Honorable Mention - Thomas Hickey, 1 goal and 1 assist. Benn Olson, 2 assists. Prab Rai, 1 goal and 1 assist.


Maybe I should be sick more often...

Sorry for the lack of updates people... I have been horribly sick and in bed for the past 4 days and the Tbirds didn't seem to mind one bit as they have hammered out a 5 game winning streak. The last two of that streak have been over the team that was the CHL's #1 ranked team (but won't be in the next poll).

Suddenly not only does Seattle have a nice edge on Everett for the 5th spot in the West but they are suddenly within arms length of Kelowna for the 4th spot and home ice in the first round (huge).

I'm not quite 100% but I will try to get back to more regular posting by the end of the week.


Tbirds defeat Portland 3-0

Seattle moves to 9-0 against the Winterhawks this year with a 3-0 victory. I missed the game and I'm now a little under the weather so I will provide the game links today.


Tbirds game cancelled

Seattle Thunderbirds announced this afternoon that their game tonight at Spokane has been cancelled and moved to Monday. This due to horrible conditions in the pass and could not allow the team bus to make it to Spokane.

Story found here...


Seattle vs. Kamloops Recap

I had a very late night last night and wasn't able to really update until today.

Seattle picks up another two points last night and moves ahead of Everett on points and into 5th place in the Western Conference and suddenly with Kelowna losing their last two Seattle has actually started to close the gap on the Rockets as well.

Here are links to the game recaps and then I will provide my own thoughts.

This was a very good win for the Tbirds because at times they looked very sloppy and somewhat disinterested but when they were focused they were very good. This bodes very well for the final set of games and the playoffs. Kamloops doesn't have the talent level that Seattle does but they showed some real grit and drive at points in the game and had the Tbirds on their heels when they cut the lead to 4-3 and had several chances to tie up the contest.

If Seattle can harness the effort and intensity that they showed in spurts last night, I'm not sure you even need to have a deadly Power Play in order to win. Jim O'Brien had a great night and his game is really starting to find itself. He is a legitimate threat every time he has the puck in open space. For as good of a game that O'Brien had... I actually thought Ian McKenzie was even better. Mac beautifully set up both of the O'Brien goals and his goal late in the third gave Seattle a 5-3 lead at a time when Kamloops had threatened to tie the game up. He was also a force all over the ice with his physical play. A game like tonight shows the type of depth that Seattle is formulating. David Richard scores two more times tonight and is on a roll, O'Brien has it going, McKenzie has it going and that doesn't even include the top line of Holloway, Scott and Nielsen who chipped in a point tonight. Charles Wells is really coming on strong, Prab Rai had a "quiet" night with 1 assist and a +4. When you are getting contributions like that from top to bottom you can really be a dangerous club.

Riku Helenius ended up making 37 saves on 40 shots to get the win. I thought Riku's performance was similar to the team as a whole. He was very good at times and was great down the stretch when the Tbirds were clinging to a 4-3 lead. He also had some curious moments like the first goal and some strange moments where it looked like he wasn't seeing the puck very well. Overall... Riku gave his team what they needed to win.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. Ian McKenzie. 1 goal (big) and 2 assists. I thought Mac was the best player on the ice tonight and gave him the slight edge over O'Brien.
2. Jim O'Brien. Breakout game with 2 goals and a very unselfish assist on the empty net goal.
3. Shayne Wiebe. Had two assists for the Blazers and led the comeback that fell short.

In the Arena:

1. O'Brien
2. McKenzie
3. Wiebe


I am certainly useless...

David Michaud, voice of the Kamloops Blazers already has a game preview up on his blog, which means I don't really need to repeat anything here.

Here is his game preview...

UPDATE: Also a decent article in the PI this morning can be found here...


Helenius named CHL co-Goaltender of the Week

Riku posted a 2-0 week last week and was named as the Co-Goaltender of the Week by the CHL. Helenius shares the honor with Thomas McCollum of the Guelph Storm.

He was 2-0-0-0 with a 0.50 goals against average and .980 save percentage in two games.

The story can be found here,


Holy 72 shots!

I would love for someone who went to the game to confirm with me how accurate the 72 shots were... Yikes... The Thunderbird recap says 74 shots but the WHL scoresheet has 72 shots.

Seattle just peppers Jordan White with shots tonight, who makes 68 saves and eventually score 4 third period goals to put the game away and win it 4-0. White made 68 saves on 71 shots which did not include the empty net goal apparently.

I didn't get a chance to catch much of the game tonight so I will point to the game recaps but another nice job by Seattle tonight to take care of business against a team of lesser skill.


Seattle drops a heartbreaker...

Tbirds give up the game winning goal with 14 seconds left last night and come away with zero points. Has to be frustrating after taking an extra long bus ride to Kennewick yesterday and have a 2-1 lead in the 3rd and come away with nothing. Prab Rai and Greg Scott scored for the Birds...

Game Recaps can be found at these places....


More Josh Lazowski

Ok... not really.

I do think it's interesting that the post that has drawn the most page views is the one about Lazowski getting reassigned. I guess I should do some more informational pieces on Josh.

Tbirds hit the road tonight for a couple of big U.S. Division games starting with Tri-City tonight and ending in Portland on Saturday night.

I have lacked a little bit on the posting lately and some posters on the "Forum" are like to still drop some information from time to time, so I don't feel the need to repeat it here. The team is obviously playing much better lately and they are 6-3-1 in their last 10.

If Seattle has any hope of catching Kelowna they MUST stay hot. As well as Seattle has played over their past 10 they have actually lost ground to Kelowna who is 7-2-1 in their last 10.

Meanwhile, a little closer to the north the Silvertips have gone from hot to cold as they had won 6 straight and have now lost 3 straight. By point percentage Seattle is actually ahead of Everett so they don't really need to "catch" them in the standings but they do need to continuing winning and the points will take care of themselves.

If Seattle can earn 3 or 4 points from this weekend I would consider that another success.

WHL Scoreboard