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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Seattle loses second exhibition game to Everett

Seattle loses 7-4 tonight. I missed the game and was told to be glad that I did. Let's hope the Tbirds can figure this out a little bit more before the season starts.


Seattle loses first exhibition game to Chilliwack

Thunderbirds drop their exhibition opener this morning at the EEC 4-2.

Seattle got on the board in the first when David Richard picked off a horrible D to D pass and raced the other way going top shelf backhand over Bruin goaltender Lucas Gore. The goal was shorthanded and unassisted.

Seattle then took a 2-0 lead in the 2nd period when Matt Hallick had a nice forechecking effort to take the puck away from Chilliwack behind their own net and fed to Jeremy Boyer who's shot was blocked but trickled past Gore for a 2-0 lead after two periods.

Seattle then completely fell apart in the third period, playing uninspired and having way too many breakdowns as 16 year old Kevin Sundher scored the natural hat trick before the Bruins added a 4th goal for the 4-2 victory. Jacob DeSerres went the entire way for Seattle.

Some observations I wrote down during the game...

- Boyer skated really well in the 1st and 2nd... I expect a big year from him.

- Warg whiffed on slappers twice but when he connected he had a good shot

- Sena and Ramsey were chirping at each other multiple times in the 1st and 2nd period and then finally fought with about 7:3o to go in the game. I would score the fight mostly a draw with a slight edge to Sena as he landed the only really solid shot towards the end of the bout. Keep in mind that Ramsey checks in at 6'5" and 210 while Sena is listed at 5'11" and 220. Ramsey had substantial reach but Sena more than held his own. I would be shocked if that is the last time we see those two fight.

- Pretty give and go with Prab Rai and Connor Sanvido almost resulted in a goal.

- Warg had some really nice stick handling that lead to a nice feed to Petrino who clanged one off the crossbar. Petrino looked solid again today and I would keep him if I were Seattle.

- Betker with a nice forecheck and steal and fed to Petrino in front who was stopped by Gore.

Players not listed on the Seattle roster who were still in camp on Wednesday:

Conner Cleverley
Tyler Alos
Dan Gibb
Ryan Armbruster
Mitch Elliot
Kevin Spotts
Brandon Carlson

Shocked would not be the right word... but I am very surprised by the absence of Brandon Carlson. On the surface it appears that they chose to keep Reid Johnson and Erik Fleming over Carlson. It almost makes me think there is more to the story. I'm totally speculating... but I wonder if they could not assure Carlson more playing time and they chose to send him back to California. I have absolutely no information that this was the case... just a guess because he looked a lot better than Fleming or Johnson in the main camp.


Rough Roster Breakdown

After seeing most of the last two nights... here is how I would think the roster shakes out.

Goaltenders -

Jacob DeSerres (18)
Calvin Pickard (16)

Kyle Jahraus (18)

Jahraus will be needed at some point this season but I can't see them actively holding him in Seattle.

Forwards -

Locks to make the roster

Ashton Hewson (20)
Devon Leblanc (20)
David Richard (19)
Prab Rai (19)
Lindsay Nielsen (19)
Jim O'Brien (19)
Jeremy Boyer (18)
Charles Wells (17)
Brenden Silvester (17)
Chance Lund (16)

That is 10 forwards. I imagine they will keep 13 or 14 so we're looking at 3 or 4 spots for the following.

Matt Hallick (19)
Matt Betker (19)
Chip Petrino (18)
Spencer Edwards (18)
Isak Quakenbush (18)
Mike Krgovich (18)
Luke Lockhart (16)

I don't see them keeping two 16 year old forwards so I think Lockhart is out. I think Quakenbush is in. He has too much size and potential to be left off the roster. I think at some point he has to produce in some games in order to keep a spot on the roster but he has looked good and improved in camp so far and I think they aren't ready to give up on him. I think Krgovich is in as well. I think Chip Petrino has looked really solid in the games I have seen and he could have an edge on Edwards. I haven't really seen much out of Hallick so far so I think I would give the edge to Betker and Petrino.

My 3 would then be Quakenbush, Krgovich, Betker with Petrino, Edwards and Hallick battling for the last forward spot. All of them could be kept around initially with players gone to NHL camps.

Defense -


Thomas Hickey (19)
Brenden Dillon (18)
Sena Acolatse (18)
Stefan Warg (18)
Brad Haber (18)
Steve Chaffin (17)

Lots of questions after these 6 and I think there are 3 more spots for the full season and 1 or 2 additionally while kids are at camp.

Jeremy Schappert (18)
Eddie Friesen (18)
Reid Johnson (17)
Kaydon Trumbley (17)
Eric Fleming (16)
Brandon Carlson (16)

What happens with Jeremy Schappert is anyones guess. I've heard he has a shoulder problem again and could be out half the year, but I haven't seen him around and I have no idea. At this moment I think the team waits for him to recover by mid-season to see if he can contribute this season. I think Carlson has looked a lot more solid than Fleming and I think Trumbley gives them some added muscle on the blue line.

My guess is that Friesen stays for now with Trumbley, Carlson and perhaps Fleming with Schappert up in the air and Johnson being the odd man out.

Now... lets assume everyone is back from NHL camps. I would imagine roughly 13 forwards and 9 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. DeSerres and Pickard are the goaltenders.

If you have to hold my feet to the fire... here is who I would go with.


Ashton Hewson (20)
Devon Leblanc (20)
David Richard (19)
Prab Rai (19)
Lindsay Nielsen (19)
Jim O'Brien (19)
Matt Betker (19)
Jeremy Boyer (18)
Isak Quakenbush (18)
Mike Krgovich (18)
Charles Wells (17)
Brenden Silvester (17)
Chance Lund (16)


Thomas Hickey (19)
Jeremy Schappert* (18)
Brenden Dillon (18)
Sena Acolatse (18)
Stefan Warg (18)
Brad Haber (18)
Eddie Friesen (18)
Steve Chaffin (17)
Erik Fleming (16)
Brandon Carlson (16)

Yes I just listed 10 players... because we know for at least half the season Schappert won't be around. I think Trumbley might be the odd man out unless the Tbirds decide to let Fleming and/or Carlson develop away from the team for another year.

So there is my best guess people... talk to me about what you think.

Team Blue wins 4-3 over Team White to end Scrimmages

Team Blue skated to a 4-3 win last night over Team White. I didn't keep track of all the scoring but I will include some notes I took during the game.

Cut from Tuesday's game was Daniel Dale, Joey Baker, Joe Glithero, Zach Maclellan and Jordan Salahor. All are 15 except Maclellan who I had heard had played well so that was a small surprise.

- Haber and Quakenbush scrapped. Quakenbush landed an early shot and Haber held a slight advantage the rest of the way. Neither guy looked like he was very interesting in hitting the other guy really hard... which is probably a good thing in Training Camp.

- Later Eddie Friesen who is listed at 5'10" and 178 scrapped with Kaydon Trumbley who checks in at 6'3" and 195. Frisen was really scrappy here spinning Trumbley around several times before the two finally spun to the ice. Good showing for Friesen though I still think he may not make the final roster.

- Ryan Armbruster was having a bit of a rough game last night but the kid is 6'3" 193 as a 15 year old and has a bright future.

- Leblanc added an assist later in the night but looked horrible offensively for stretches in the 1st and 2nd. I still like the way he skates and he's on the team for sure.

- Hewson had a bad giveaway that led to a nice top shelf goal by David Richard with assists going to Leblanc and Friesen

- Luke Lockhart scored off a rebound to beat Jahraus. Reid Johnson put a nice shot on goal from the point to get the assist.

- Hewson then scored on a nice 2nd effort. The initial setup was a nice pass from behind the net by Jeremy Boyer after Hewson had missed on a breakaway. Krgovich had the second assist.

- Warg drilled Matt Betker and unfortunately Betker's head and face twisted with the hit and smashed into the glass. Warg is definitely not afraid to hit people.

- Zach Walker has played well for most of camp but looked his age tonight (15). He was hit hard several times and was bullied and pushed way out of the play one time by Hewson. The word bullied is appropriate considering that Hewson tips the scales at 6'5" and 231 while Walker is listed at 5'9" and 163.

- Dillon had a nice shot that caromed off the bar and over the net.

- Nice crunch by Spencer Edwards on Krgovich on the far wall.

Team Blue holds off Team White to win it 4-3.

A little later today I'll take a look at what I think the final roster might look like. There are certainly some interesting battles.


Defense and Goaltending lead Team White to the 2-0 victory

I made it down to the KVIC last night for the 2nd scrimmage of training camp. Day 1 featured a ton of scoring as the two teams combined for 13 goals. Game 2 was quite different.

Lead by Riku Helenius and Calvin Pickard, Team White pitched a shutout 2-0 over Team Blue. By memory I believe the two goaltenders made 31 or 32 saves for the shutout.

Jacob DeSerres and Kyle Jahraus also played well for Team Blue. I did not make it down in time to see who scored the first goal for team White but 2nd goal was scored on a pretty pass by Kevin Spotts and an even better finish by Tyler Alos who directed the pass into the top corner over the shoulder of DeSerres. Prab Rai received the 2nd assist on the play.

I was also told that "Preacher" Steve Chaffin fought Kaydon Trumbley but I did not see it.

A few observations from last night. I tried to pay less attention to the players who are more established... the Greg Scotts, Boyers, Nielsens... whatever... they are gonna make the team. I tried to pay attention to the kids who I didn't know as well and notice how many times I had to look down at my sheet to check and see who THAT player was. So here are the kids I had to check on the most...

Keep in mind... while I was there, there were several players who just didn't see as much ice time as others as well so this should not be seen as an indication of who I think will make the team. I'll do a bit more of a breakdown on that probably tomorrow.

Team White

Brandon Carlson (16) #3 - looks good and very calm with the puck, but was beaten once to the outside by Richard (not a total shame there at all).

Tyler Alos (15) #14 - Scored the second goal for Team White and despite the fact that he is small he was involved in the play several times to the point where I had to keep checking on his name as well.

Matt Hallick (19) #15 - I had to check my sheet like 6 times for him. He skated hard and wasn't afraid to throw his body around.

Ashton Hewson(20) #23 - Wow he is a big kid and he was really playing hard and looking to crush people, I liked what I saw.

Kevin Spotts (17) #28 - He was involved a lot also and had the pretty pass to Alos for the goal. Spotts is a local kid who was in Everett camp last year.

Team Blue

Dan Gibb (16) #2 - He saw a ton of ice time and looked ok to me.

Ryan Armbruster (15) #3 - Big kid and loved to throw his weight around.

Stefan Warg (18) #8 - Didn't really see a ton of ice time while I was there but looked very calm and collected on the blue line.

Connor Sanvido (15) #11 - The Tbirds 1st round Bantam pick didn't do anything spectacular but also did not disappoint. He seemed to be involved in everything while he was on the ice.

Chip Petrino (18) #13 - Another local kid (Vancouver, WA). I'm not sure there is room for him to make the team but he impressed me and I thought he played well. Petrino was I believe in Chilliwack's camp last year.

Luke Lockhart (16) #15 - Another kid who I had to check my sheet for about 5 times.

Chance Lund (16) #23 - All the reports were spot on for this kid... He didn't do anything special that I saw but hes a big kid who skates well and should make the team.

Devon Leblanc (20) #24 - Leblanc looked good as well and also threw his weight around a little bit, which was nice to see.

Eddie Friesen (18) #25 - My gut tells me that Friesen doesn't make the team, but from what I'm told and saw last night the kid has skated hard and played pretty well.

I'll be down there tonight to check out the third and final scrimmage and throw up some roster thoughts tomorrow.


Part 2 of my Q and A with Coach Rob Sumner

Hunnex: Can I act like a fan for just a moment and ask… how awesome is the new building going to be and should we not expect that the fans are going to pack that place, make it loud and provide a great home ice advantage?

Sumner: We are very much looking forward to the new building to state the obvious. There are things like the noise and excitement as you mention that will create a great environment inside the building but there is actually more to it than that for us. We will finally have our game rink, practice rink, and office under the same roof. Combine that with a new group of fans merging with a strong, loyal, current fan base. So, yes, I do expect it to be packed and contribute towards a great home ice advantage.

Hunnex: Talk a little bit about the players that have been acquired or listed in the off season. What kind of player is Mike Krgovich (I heard he is “your” type of player)? Spencer Edwards? Warg? Palat? (I heard he is likely not coming until next year?) Devon LeBlanc? Houston?

Sumner: A very brief comment on each guy…

Krgovich – a tenacious responsible player, yet has untapped offensive potential as well.

Edwards – a very fast top end skater.

Warg – good all around skill, good size, good skater. He appears to be a very competitive player.

Palat – you’re correct, probably a next year player.

LeBlanc – good size and skill level. I believe he will reach a whole new level to his game.

Hewson – fresh start will be beneficial. Great size and very good person who could just be a great fit.

Hunnex: Address if you would like, the most common criticism that I have heard from fans since you took over as head coach, that your system heavily favors defense and does not allow for forwards and offensive players to take aggressive chances to create scoring opportunities? It seems to me that our forwards are taught not to leave the zone and stretch towards the neutral zone until after the puck has cleared the zone… whereas it seems to me that other teams take more chances attempting to stretch before the puck has been fully cleared from their own zone. I’m not sure if I’m describing this very well….

Sumner: I think I understand your question so I will attempt to answer it. Perhaps I am a bit misunderstood if the perception from some is that I limit players offensively. It couldn’t be further from the truth, as a matter of fact we have spent huge chunks of practice time trying to develop and encourage offensive play. I also stress a strong team oriented defensive system and that won’t change.

The best teams are the teams that are consistently strong on offence and defence. The winner of our league over the past 4 seasons has been in the top 4 of both categories. Look at last year’s champions, Detroit in the NHL, and Spokane in the WHL, were not run and gun teams, instead very good at both ends.

The numbers say that in the last 4 years we have been in the top half of the league defensively for all 4 years, and offensively for 2 of the 4 years. I think if you take it a step further, our powerplay has held us back in overall offensive production. I have more concern about getting better results there than I do with our 5 on 5 offensive play.

Finally, to address the specific example you made…I encourage our players to break for holes and break ahead of the play through the neutral zone once possession is gained, not once the puck has cleared the zone. We will keep working towards playing a top end offensive style along with a top end defensive game, not in place of it. I hope that helps the fans that you are referring to understand my way of thinking.

Hunnex: I’ve heard from various sources that there could be some surprise kids that are coming to Seattle next year from the U.S. and other parts. What players, who were not with the team last year, are being invited to camp and/or could make an impact this year or next? For example… maybe one of the kids from Minnesota, Matt Betker or Brandon Carlson?

Sumner: We will have several players who were not with last year’s team in Training Camp. I don’t think there are any big secrets but there are a couple of guys with experience in the league with other teams that will be in camp. LeBlanc, Hewson, Hallick, Betker, Krgovich, Edwards, Jahraus and Petrino will all be there, along with other players who are without experience in the league. I’m not too hung up on experience, my job along with Russ is to select the best players and work towards making those players into a team.


Part 1 of my Q and A with Coach Rob Sumner

Hunnex: Coach – First off, how was your summer? How did you spend your time this off-season? Did you get a chance to play a little golf? Did I hear that you had another addition to the family? Were you able to visit all/most of the boys at some point during the summer?

Sumner: Summer has gone very well. I have been very busy trying to adjust to such a full scale organizational move. The only down side is that in the current market, I have not yet been able to sell our house. I am writing these answers to your questions on Monday August 18 so if I am a little short and direct with some of my answers its because I’m pretty busy putting the finishing touches on some of my planning for the season. I do love to talk hockey so I hope my answers help fulfill what you are hoping to accomplish. So sticking with your line of questions, I golf quite rarely and quite poorly. My pattern seems to be to golf once a year with our goalie coach Paul Fricker (who is very good). The addition to our family was just over a year ago, although it seems like yesterday. My boys are Reid (3), and Will (1), and any free time I have is spent being a dad, which couldn’t be better. I did my ‘tour’ this year in mid July. A little later than I normally would go but that’s just how it fit this year. It actually turned out well because I was able to include Hewson and LeBlanc in my travels.

Hunnex: The Schedule… You guys play a lot of road games in the first half of the season and a lot of home games in the second half. My take is that it is extremely smart from an organizational stance and that you have to play 36 on the road and 36 at home no matter what... but clearly the schedule puts you guys in a tough spot in the first half of the year and potentially a great spot in the second half of the year assuming the team doesn’t surprisingly fall far off the pace in the Conference. How do you feel about the composition of the schedule? Is this the type of group where a lot of road games early on provide an opportunity to come together? Or does spending most of 2008 in a suitcase provide some unusually difficult circumstances?

Sumner: The schedule is challenging. It’s easy to look ahead at the second half and get big eyes but the reality is that we have to play the first half and we have to play it first. With that being said, we will take it a step at a time and not let it overwhelm us, nor will we use it as an excuse during tough times as they arise. We have been a good to very good road team over the last few years, so it’s just about being focused and ready for the challenges ahead.

As far as the type of group we have? We don’t completely know that yet. I do know that the core of returning guys are good players and will take on bigger roles within our team but we also have a mix of guys that are experienced in the league who I don’t know very well and who don’t know me. There will be tremendous opportunity for several players if they are ready to grab it. I like several of the new young players we have coming in, and I see a couple of them really being able to help us right away. Ideally we have the type of group that is ready to go right from the start where time together on the road proves to be beneficial.

Hunnex: While the team fell short in the playoffs, it was a tremendously successful off-season for player development with Jackson, McKenzie, Olson, Scott and Holloway all signing Professional Contracts. How proud are you to see that so many players are leaving Seattle and moving on to the next level? Talk about the impact of those losses… especially the potential loss of Thomas Hickey and Greg Scott who did not sign until July and was expected to be the teams top returning scorer?

Sumner: I am very proud of the players moving on and the success our organization has seen helping our players realize their dreams and goals. I will talk about the impact to our lineup of players moving on but first I want to address the term “fell short” in playoffs. I don’t think we fell short, and don’t get me wrong, I know as good as anyone the importance of winning but I loved our team’s attitude right to the end. Our goal going in was to give our best, and not in a general sense but to actually give what each guy can every night, no matter what. We went up against a very good Tri City team that was healthy and playing well. We were far from healthy, and our injuries were to top end guys. I don’t bring this up as an excuse, instead I just want to express that I was really happy with how hard we played right to the end, our guys were mentally tough even though our play wasn’t good enough to beat that team under the circumstances.

As far as the impact of players moving on, we’ll choose to dwell on the players we have here instead of the players we don’t. We lose excellent players in every possible position but we lose them in a very positive way…they’re turning pro. So instead of our next wave of guys viewing it as losses to our lineup, I would imagine they will view it as opportunity along the lines of “…if those guys got signed playing hard for our team, so can I”, and if we have guys coming in with that kind of attitude, we’ll be a healthy group.

Hunnex: With the loss of so many players from last season to the professional ranks, you are obviously looking for all of the players to have improved over the summer and step up their games. What players in particular are you expecting to take their game to the next level and fill the shoes of some of the departed players?

Sumner: I am going to choose to avoid this question in detail. Instead of giving a vague answer that doesn’t really answer your question, I will just say this…I have had one on one meetings with guys and our mutual expectation is very clear with each individual. For me to hand out roles before they are earned would be unfair. I don’t think our guys would want to play on that kind of team. We have some very ambitious players so the opportunity available is very well recognized by most or even all.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of my exclusive Q and A with Coach Rob Sumner before training camp begins.


WHL Logo Rankings

Thanks to "The Reporter" on the forum for this...

The Hockey News ranked the best logos in the WHL and your Tbirds came in #1 (hard to argue with that).

Also nice to see the Silvertip described as "A semi-tough, semi-cuddly bear"


Season Preview and Q and A with Coach Rob Sumner

Rookie Camp begins this weekend and I will be out of town... Anyone who would like to contribute to the blog, please feel free to attend rookie camp and send me some of your observations and I might post them up here.

The Thunderbirds and Coach Rob Sumner have been gracious enough to submit to a Q and A session where I will ask Coach about his thoughts on this past season and what we can look forward to seeing for the 2008-09 season.

I'm looking to this Friday for Part 1 of my exclusive Q and A with Coach Sumner with the 2nd and 3rd installments coming next week before training camp starts.



I haven't posted anything in some time now... and I assume that some of my regular readers are wondering what is going on. I started writing a bit of a season preview by covering the goaltenders and what I think will be Seattle's first line for the 08-09 season, but I have put the "season preview" on hold for the time being. I am working on a huge multiple part article which "might" include a Q and A with coach Rob Sumner and I want to make sure everything is ready and looking sharp before publication.

Rookie camp is but a few weeks away with training camp to follow and the season opening in Prince George not long after that. Win or lose, this is going to be ONE of the most if not THE most historical season in Thunderbirds history and I'm hoping to provide a level of coverage that has not yet been seen by the loyal Seattle fan base. I have already received several tips from some great fans and I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate all of the great fans out there who throw information my way and care so much about the team.

Some of you may have noticed that the blog has changed slightly... Google has discontinued their use of the AdSense program and as such I was forced to change the Ad banners on the site. My hope is that these banners are not TOO annoying as they are only a small way to possible offset the cost of all the time I spend writing for the blog (don't worry folks... last season I made $7.98, barely enough for a beer... all fans are welcome to buy me one at the games next season!).

So there is the update... I was feeling guilty that I had not posted in a while... Rest assured that this is only the calm before the storm there there will be a TON of content to follow.

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