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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Bantam Draft Thursday

The WHL Bantam Draft goes down tomorrow and you can watch it in Real Time at Alan Caldwell's blog is also an excellent place to find information.

The Saskatoon newspaper did a Mock Draft and made a interesting projection for the Thunderbirds. They are projecting (keep in mind... this isn't exactly the NFL draft we're talking about) that Seattle will select RW Shane McColgan from the Los Angeles Junior Kings midget AAA. If that actually became true (doubtful) it would be an interesting selection considering that Seattle is looking for and hoping another Los Angeles player (but playing for the LA Selects, different team) Brandon Carlson will come to the WHL next season.


Rob Sumner and Bud Holloway on the BJ Shea Show

Topping Off Ceremony

Holloway now signs with L.A. Kings

This deal has been much rumored for days now and has finally been made official. The three-year entry-level contract likely ends his Thunderbird career as he will be eligible to play in the AHL for the Manchester Monarchs as a 20 year old next season.

A big blow to Seattle's scoring power for next season, Seattle will now likely have two 20 year old spots available next year.

Official press release by the Thunderbirds can be found here.

Some other items....

Tbirds held a "topping off" ceremony at the new KEC last week and a "video blog" of the BJ Shea Morning Experience from when Coach Rob Sumner and Bud Holloway visited during the 2nd round of the playoffs.

I will post videos in subsequent postings.


Holloway signs with Manchester

Bud Holloway has signed a tryout deal with the Manchester Monarchs (AHL team for the LA Kings) and will be playing in their upcoming playoff series with the Providence Bruins. Holloway signs with fellow WHL player Oscar Moller of the Chilliwack Bruins (don't be confused).

The Bruins... Providence that is... will feature some familiar faces with former Thunderbird Nate Thompson along with Wacey Rabbit (Vancouver), Jordan Knackstedt (Moose Jaw) and Zach Hamill (Everett).
Stories from:

Thunderbirds can be found here.

Monarchs can be found here.


More season ending thoughts...

- Fans can talk all they want about the officiating in the series and the entire playoffs (and believe me I have some of the same thoughts) but you must be able to kill those penalties, whether they are legitimate calls or not you simply cannot give up Power Play goals at a rate of 50% and expect to win games, much less a series against the team with the #1 overall record in the league. Give Tri-City a lot of credit for having a very good Power Play and creating chances and goals when they got those opportunities.

-For Ian McKenzie, Benn Olson and Scott Jackson it is the end of the road. I know Benn Olson and Scott Jackson are likely headed somewhere and my guess is after the outstanding playoffs McKenzie had, he will be headed somewhere as well. Without a doubt the hardest part about being a Junior Hockey fan is watching the growth of these kids into young men and watching them leave after their 20 year old year. Best of luck to all three... I think I speak for all Tbird fans when I saw they will be missed.

-Was Riku Helenius hurt? I wasn't really shocked to see Jake DeSerres in net last night for Game 5, but I was a little surprised and now I hear from one devoted fan that Riku might have been banged up in Game 3. We saw the return of Thomas Hickey last night and saw a few guys take what I thought were some high hits on him early in the game. For good or for bad, it is part of the game and I'm sure Hickey was expecting it to happen. Prab Rai did not play and that was to be expected after suffering concussion like symptoms after Game 4.

-Seattle lost only 6 games in regulation at Key Arena in the regular season and wound up 2-4 at home in the playoffs. Not exactly what the Tbirds were looking for, but the Key does not provide the type of playoff intense atmosphere that most buildings can and I would bet we see that intense crowd feeling next year in the new Kent Events Center.

-Let the speculation begin on what this team might look like next year. We know from previous seasons that things tend to change a lot more than we ever expect. We know the 20's won't be back. My gut tells me that both Holloway and Hickey will be back, Riku Helenius almost certainly will not and Seattle will have one 20 year old spot to fill. I wouldn't be surprised to see some deals made on some guys that didn't really develop enough this year to expect that they will be back.

-Last but not least I wasn't to thank everyone who has read and (hopefully) enjoyed the blog this year. It was an exciting first year blogging about the team, I had a lot of fun doing it and I hope that I can continue to get better as a writer/blogger as we move into a new era of Thunderbirds hockey next season. Thanks to everyone who helped click on my ads.... I almost raised enough money to buy a beer at the Key next season haha. Keep checking in on the blog as I will still be doing as many Tbird stories and news items as I can over the summer.


Tbirds season ends in a thud

Seattle loses tonight 4-0 and is shutout on 32 shots by Chet Pickard as the Tri-City Americans win the best of 7 series 4 games to 1.

Tbird Jim O'Brien clanked one off the post early on and Seattle was just never able to break through on Pickard while the Americans again converted on 2 of 4 Power Play chances in the victory.

It was a great season for the team, despite ending up short of the ultimate goal and I will have more thoughts and season ending thoughts in the next couple of days.

Hickey is warming up...

but he also warmed up before Game 2 as well.

Jake DeSerres is also in net again for Seattle.

Season on the line tonight in Game 5

Unlike Game 3 of the first round where the series technically could not end... tonight is all about survival.

It doesn't matter how you get it done... physical play, finesse and speed, Power Play, Shorthanded, etc. Tonight the Tbirds have to get it done in Kennewick or the season is over.

My gut tells me that Thomas Hickey will play and Prab Rai will not, but I wouldn't be shocked to see the Captain out of the lineup again tonight and hope for a return to Game 6 back at home.

A loss tonight and the season is obviously over... but a win tonight and Seattle has a chance to take back momentum of the series. Change the momentum and win Game 6 and anything can happen in Game 7, no matter where the game is played.

Seattle must improve their PK tonight in order to win. I don't care one bit about what calls the officials are making or aren't making, the team still has to kill the penalty and too many times in this series they haven't been able to do that.

Players who have been great all year or in the first round must find that magical touch again tonight. Greg Scott is due, David Richard is due, Bud Holloway is kind of due. All of these guys must play their best game of the season tonight to get things done.

I have no idea who is starting in the pipes tonight for Seattle but my gut again would tell me that Riku Helenius is back. Jake didn't start Game 4 because of anything Riku did in Game 3 and Riku starting tonight would have nothing to do with anything Jake did in Game 4.

7:05 from the Toyota Center tonight... its time to open the proverbial gas tank and see how much is left.


I've seen the Olson penalty...

and wow that is a bad call.

That would have been a horrible call if it were a 5 goal game in the 2nd period in November, much less with 22 seconds left in a pivotal playoff game that is tied and going into overtime.

I still say that you can't put the blame on officials for losing.... but that is just an indefensible call by any referee, much less the one that was awarded the WHL's top award for officials last year.

Post #200 a heartbreaker

Seattle loses a heart breaker last night and their season will be on the line Friday night in Kennewick.

I was busy last night winning two GSHL championships and my heart sunk checking the score after I got out of the rink.

I know there are a lot of disgruntled Tbird fans today with a Benn Olson penalty late in the game that resulted in the PP with which Tri-City scored the GWG on in the overtime period. Having not seen the game its really not fair for me to judge either way, but I absolutely hate being in the habit of blaming officials for wins or losses. Over the course of a game there are probably a dozen things or more that a team can do to win or lose games regardless of the officiating and the bottom line is that Seattle didn't get it done last night.

Andy Thiessen is generally regarded as one of the better officials in the WHL and for the most part I have never really had an issue with the way he calls a game.

Officials, like players, are subject to making mistakes because they are human just like anyone else and due to the nature of the job sometimes those decisions and mistakes affect the outcome of sports/hockey games. You can't concern yourself with the officials.

So Seattle has got to put these last two days behind them and focus on the fact that Tri-City is a very good team and both games were close enough to go either way. You might get your Captain back on Friday and if you steal one in Kennewick you come back to your own barn with a chance to win at home and send it to Game 7 where anything can happen.


Game Story Links

Seattle Times here

Seattle PI here

Tri City Herald here

More thoughts on Game 3

The Tbirds really have their backs up against the wall tonight in Game 4 after an effort in Game 3 that just wasn't playoff quality.

Don't pay any attention to the close 3-2 score. This was a game that was mostly dominated by the Americans and only an incredible 18 save 2nd period by Riku Helenius and two outstanding goals by Jim O'Brien kept Seattle in the game.

Helenius was outstanding, especially in the 2nd period when Seattle was able to tie the game at 2-2 on O'Brien's 2nd goal. I bet though, he would love to have the GWG back as a backhand fluttering goal found its way under his glove and into the back of the net. It was a shot by Taylor Procyshen that he got only partially and it handcuffed Riku, who I imagine thought the shot would come in higher.

Seattle was 0/9 on the Power Play and as much as I hate it when fans yell "shooooot" when the boys are on the Power Play, in this case they were right. A 5-3 Seattle enjoyed in the 2nd period netted only 1 shot on goal and ended with only 24 for the game and never more than 9 in a period.

Seattle also gave up a PP goal early in the first after taking a 1-0 lead when Eddie Friesen (just called up) was hit with an interference penalty. Tough situation for the kid, but you just can't make mistakes like that in playoff games, especially when you just joined the team.

Helenius would probably also like to have the Americans second goal back, as Adam Hughesman poked in a puck at the near post from behind the net while the goal light went off and both referees looked at each other dumbfounded. After a short review, the goal was awarded and Seattle trailed 2-1. The goal was also a PP goal and Tri-City was 2/5 with the man advantage.

So.... Seattle is up against the wall facing a must win game tonight and they will certainly be without the services of captain Thomas Hickey again.

I'm all but certain that Hickey is out again tonight but it is the playoffs and it is a must win game so I suppose anything is possible.

I have a bad feeling that this playoff series is starting to look like the series last year against Vancouver and I think Seattle goes down in Games 4 and 5 and lose the series 4-1.

Prove me wrong boys... I'd love to be wrong about that prediction.


Tbirds lose Game 3, fall behind 2 games to 1

Riku Helenius did everything he could tonight to keep Seattle in it but eventually fell to Tri-City 3-2 tonight.

Not Seattle's best effort and I will will have some more additional thoughts tomorrow.

Hickey Out for Game 3

Rob Sumner and Bud Holloway were on 99.9 KISW this morning and Rob stated that Thomas will not play tonight.

The way he phrased it... my guess is that he will be out for Game 4 as well but that is just a guess.


Hickey held out, Tbirds lose Game 2

Thomas Hickey was "held out", even though he the team said he was cleared to play. You have to wonder how healthy Thomas really is if they held him out of a playoff game for precautionary reasons.

So while their captain sat out, Tri-City converted on 4 of their Power Play chances and shutout the Tbirds 4-0.

The series is now tied at 1-1 and shifts back to Seattle for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday night at Key Arena.


Game 3 Comment Thread

Seattle goes for the huge 2-0 series lead tonight.

I would expect Tri-City to come out on fire and give their absolute best effort in tonight's game to ensure they head to Seattle even in the series.

Reports on Hickey is that he will be fine and in the lineup tonight.


Game 1 Comment Thread

Check out Alan Caldwell's preview of the series right here.

Comment on Game 1 as you wish.

Great 1st period by the Tbirds.... Americans took back to back penalties around the middle of the period and although Seattle failed to score on the 5-3 it really took the momentum away from the Americans and Ian McKenzie got his first of two shortly after the penalties expired.

Seattle must match this intensity and effort for the next two periods and they just might steal Game 1 in the series.

Hickey is helped off the ice with what looked like a leg injury while receiving a penalty. The penalty call looked ridiculous to me... but then no penalty was called as Holloway created a breakaway and scored shorthanded to give the Tbirds a 3-0 lead.

Tbirds with another great period and Tri-City is frustrated as Seattle leads 4-1.

Seattle just scored two more on goals from Scott Jackson and Lindsay Nielsen and the Tbirds have chased Chet Pickard.

Seattle dominates tonight and wins 7-1 over the frustrated Americans.


Seattle penalty kills their way into the 2nd round...

Tbirds survive and advance tonight... but that makes it sound as if they didn't play well. Seattle looked like the better team tonight in winning 4-2 over a gritty Kelowna team that would not quit and made them work for 59:30 of Game 7.

Seattle was a perfect 8/8 killing penalties in the game including a critical 5-3 in the 2nd period and a 4 minute double minor to Brendon Dillon in a critical portion of the 3rd period. They also got the eventual game winner from Lindsay Nielsen shorthanded in the 2nd period.

I know a lot of Tbirds fans were not very happy with the officiating in this game, but I personally didn't have a problem with many of the calls that were made. I, along with coach Rob Sumner, didn't really see or seem to understand the too many men on the ice call in the 2nd period, but one was promptly called on the Rockets about 3 minutes later.

Seattle got goals from Bud Holloway and Ian McKenzie in the 1st period but again surrendered a goal at the end of a period as Brady Leavold scored with just 5 seconds left cutting the Tbird margin from what would have been 2 to 1.

Riku Helenius was at his best in this game facing 33 shots and making 31 saves including a handful of very good and/or game saving saves.

So Seattle wins the series 4-3 and what a great close and tight series it was. Hats off to all of the Rockets for pushing Seattle about as far as they could go without taking the series.

Seattle now opens up Round 2 of the playoffs in Kennewick on Friday night to take on the Americans, the #1 team in all of the WHL.

Let's Go Birds Three Stars of the Game:

1. Riku Helenius - 31 Saves
2. Bud Holloway - 1 goal and created and assisted the GWG
3. Jamie Benn - Gave his team everything he had with 1 goal and 1 assist

Honorable Mention - Lindsay Nielsen with the SH GWG

In the Arena:

1. Helenius
2. Holloway
3. Nielsen

Nice Tbirds Article...

by a fellow Blogger/Writer about some of the history involved with hockey being played in Key Arena/Coliseum.

Can be found here

Holloway named WHL Player of the Month

Bud Holloway was announced as the WHL Player of the Month.

Thunderbirds Press Release can be found here

WHL Story to be found here

Game 7 is Tonight!

Tonight is for all the marbles... well ok, not really. The WHL or Memorial Cup is not on the line tonight, but the opportunity to play for those things is.

Seattle must win tonight to extend their season in a building where they lost only 6 times in regulation this year but is only 1-2 so far in this series. This game at home is the reward for all the hard work the team put in down the stretch to catch and overtake Kelowna and Everett in the standings.

As I stated a few days ago... tonight could possibly be the last game for Scott Jackson, Benn Olson and Ian McKenzie. I expect those three guys to lead the way tonight.

Regan Bartel is reporting that the officials assigned to tonight's only WHL game is Andy Thiessen and Derek Herman which will likely mean that the game will be decided by the players. Credit to the WHL for assigning a really good crew for tonight's game 7.

The Tbirds MUST find a way to create space to use their speed and not allow Kelowna to clog things up at the blue line. This team has shown that when they are ready to play they are capable of dominating Kelowna... I would be very surprised and disappointed if that team didn't show up tonight.

WHL Scoreboard