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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Projections revisited

Couple of months ago I broke down what I thought might happen the rest of the way. Let's go back and see how I'm doing. Here was the quote.


With these projections the totals are:

Spokane - 83 pts
Seattle - 77 pts
Everett - 70 pts
Kamloops - 66 pts


Currently Spokane sits at 83 points, so clearly I was low on them... but I also did that purposely for the illustration that it was going to be nearly impossible for Seattle to catch them. I should have included Kelowna, but Seattle didn't come close to catching them either.

Seattle stands at 62 points with 9 games to play. In order to get to 77 the Birds have to get 15 out of a possible 18 points. That seems out of reach but it may not be. With 8 home games and the way they are playing at the Sho I would expect the Tbirds to win 6 of those games straight up. If you win in Portland for their final road game that's 14 points. All you need to do is take a 7th game to OT and you have 15 of 18. My guess... they will finish at 75 points which is still pretty darn close.

Everett currently has 59 points and would need 11 in their last 9 games. With their play of late... that would seem to be a bit of a stretch. A look at the schedule and I think it is nearly impossible for them to get to 70 points. I can see them getting about 6 or maybe 7 which would put them at 65-66 points. Still... pretty close to the 70 I called for, not bad.

I had Kamloops for 66 points, finishing in 7th but they appear to have a leg up on Everett for 6th. They sit at 62 points with 8 games to play... only needing 4 points in 16 possible to make it to my projection. Loops can probably get 1 of 2 games in PG.... but then look at the rest of the schedule. Home Calgary, Home Portland, At Vancouver, Home Vancouver, Home Kelowna, At Kelowna. I don't believe Kamloops has beaten Kelowna all season. So suddenly... 4 points in their last 8 games doesn't seem like such a stretch. I'll say they finish with 72 points and finish 3 behind Seattle.

All in all... not bad. I missed pretty badly on Spokane... but again that was mostly to see how Seattle might catch them.

Last Chance Hockey Challenge

I wanted to throw out one last request to donate to the Hockey Challenge. The schedule is out and looks like this:

Hockey Challenge 2009 Schedule
Game 1 - E&D vs. Mobile Services, 11:35 a.m.
Game 2 - SQL Server vs. Exchange, 1:30 p.m.
Game 3 - Windows Live vs. MS IT, 3:25 p.m.
Celebrity Autograph Session - 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on west concourse of ShoWare Center
Game 4 - Seattle Thunderbirds vs. Portland Winter Hawks, 6:05 p.m.
Game 5 - Celebrity All-Star, immediately following T-Birds/Winter Hawks game

I play in the first game of the day on the E&D team (if anyone cares) and will be wearing #33.

Please donate if you can... even if it is only $5 that would be great. The link is right here:

When making donations online please reference "Tyler Hunnex E&D Team".

If you have already donated... thank you very much.

Don't you guys think I should be in the celebrity game next year?? haha


Prospect Updates - 92's

Seattle has a handful of players still on their list that they either drafted or listed later who are not currently with the team. Keep in mind that these players might still join the team for their 17 year old season and they might still turn out to be really excellent players. Greg Scott didn't come to Seattle until his 17 year old year and now is signed and one of the Tbirds best players.

Brandon Carlson - 3rd Round - Defense

Some of you may recall that Carlson was in camp this year and looked like a solid candidate to make the team. With his NCAA eligibility on the line... I suspect the Tbirds weren't sure they could give him enough playing time to burn his options and chose to let him go right before the first exhibition game. Carlson is still listed and I would think the hope is that he comes back next year and is ready to step in to a top 6 defensive role. This season Carlson is playing with the Chicago Missions in the Tier I elite Midget AAA league and has played 33 games with 4 goals and 12 assists to go with 26 PIM's. Carlson also has a shorthanded goal and 2 game winning goals in his total. I think Carlson is a real sleeper here for the Tbirds and it would not shock me to see him step into a Top 6 next year and grow into more playing time from there.

Connor Cleverley - 9th Round - Forward

Cleverley was also in camp this year and after being cut has been playing for the Winnipeg Wild in the Manitoba AAA Midget League. In 25 games he has totaled 14 goals and 16 assists to go along with 20 PIM's and a Plus/Minus rating of +12. The standings were last updated on December 2 and at that point the Wild were 17-2 and in 2nd place in their division. Justin Lachance - 7th Round - Forward Lachance was also in camp this year and has played for the Vancouver NE Chiefs in the BC MML (same team as Connor Sanvido). He has played in 32 games and has 13 goals and 10 assists to go along with 34 PIM's.

Jason Zucker - 4th Round - Forward

Zucker may or may not be another lost cause in the US market. Zucker has committed to Denver University and would enter in the fall of 2010... nobody ever said he couldn't go there and then come to Seattle but for now he seems pointed at the college route. Zucker has played for the Las Vegas Tour Rebels in addition to being selected to the roster for the U.S. U17 World Championships in Port Alberni, BC. His stats with the U-17 team: 46 games played, 19 goals, 10 assists, 53 PIM's and 6 of his goals were of the GWG variety which leads the team.

Jacob Fallon - Listed - Forward

Might as well tackle Fallon right after we tackle Zucker. Fallon was also selected to the US team for the U-17's. He had a hat trick in the Bronze medal game over Canada West. He has previously committed to Michigan. While playing for the American U-17 team he has played in 44 games with 15 goals and 20 assists to go with 36 PIM's.

Tyler Sybil - Listed - Forward

Sybil is actually playing in town for the Kent Valley Selects U-18 AAA Midget team which is coached by former Thunderbirds goaltender Danny Lorenz. Through 35 games, Sybil has played in 32 of them and has 10 goals and 19 assists to go with 88 PIM's. They have actually played several more games since the last update but that is all I have at this point. They were 22-10-3 in those games. Anthony Petruzzelli also plays for Kent and he was in Tbirds training camp, not sure if he is still listed by Seattle.

Jared Crema - Listed - Defense

Probably saved the most interesting one for last. Crema is listed at 6'4" and 190 pounds and plays for the North Island Silvertips of the BC MML. He has played in 34 games and has 10 goals and 12 assists to go with 20 PIM's. The kid lists his long term goals as "NCAA Div. 1 scholarship", which might be the reason why he went undrafted... but with numbers like that it is pretty clear why Seattle decided to list him.


Mea Culpa... and a couple of notes.

- It was correctly pointed out to me that Kelowna has actually closed the gap on Spokane for the #3 spot in the Western Conference... so planning for Kelowna in the first round is definitely premature.

Spokane has two games in hand, so they effectively lead Kelowna by 3.7 points (don't ask) but they do have a very tough schedule the rest of the way. Kelowna may end up in 4th, but to assume so is a little bit foolish at this point.

- Also... game photos from Mick White can be found here.

- Rumor has it that Oscar Moller will be sent to Seattle within a week. I don't know this to be true, but I do know that he has to either go back to the Kings or to Seattle by the end of the week.

- A quick statistical word on Seattle's road record. The entire league so far has played 686 road games and earned 650 road points on the season for a win % of .473. Seattle has played 35 road games and earned 23 points for a win % of .329. IF they had played at the league average clip they would have earned about 33 points. So we're looking at them being 10 points below average on the road.

It's not good... but it's also not so horrible that you can say the won't win a road game in the playoffs. Rather than focus on Seattle's record on the road, it is probably more relevant to look at the home records for their possible opponents. Kelowna is 24-7-1 at home and Spokane is 23-8-0. Should the Tbirds have trouble winning on the road in the playoffs, it will probably have as much or more to do with the teams they are playing rather than their own struggles.

- Thom also has a new blog entry up this morning.


Now... we're talking...

Seattle completes the perfect weekend with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Giants and have now handed them 2 of their 7 losses in regulation on the season.

This team can beat anyone........ They have now shown that they can absolutely beat anybody on any given night if they have the motivation and the desire.

They complete a 3 wins in 3 nights weekend over Spokane, Portland and Vancouver... and yes they still haven't been able to get a signature road win but wins over Spokane and Vancouver at home prove that this team could be dangerous come playoff time.

Getting David Richard back is big in the way that it improves the overall depth of the lines and starts to get guys back into their natural roles. The question becomes whether the return of Lindsay Nielsen pushes Acolatse back to defense or whether it pushes another forward to the bench.

Seattle gets two goals tonight from Jim O'Brien and a penalty shot goal from Jeremy Boyer, who came streaking out of the penalty box to grab a loose puck and come streaking in on net, only to be hooked from behind and be awarded the free chance. Boyer then converted the chance and tied the game at two with a quick snap shot that beat Jamie Tucker to the low glove side.

O'Brien then provided the game winner by sneaking a Power Play goal past Tucker on a shot that was deflected by his own player and slipped between his legs, giving Seattle a 3-2 lead with just over 8 minutes to play in the game.

Seattle didn't play their best game of the year but they played a stout game and were able to take advantage of the chances they were given. The difference in the game tonight was the play in front of their own net. Seattle was able to clear out chances and keep Vancouver from stuffing home a number of chances in front of the net. In addition to that... Calvin Pickard was again very solid tonight stopping 40 of 42 shots to pick up the win.

Seattle had now won 3 straight after the loss in Spokane and is 7-3 in their last 10 games and now move 1 game over .500 for the first time all season and 2 points clear of Kamloops for 5th place..... Better start looking at the drive to Kelowna for the first round.

Seattle is back in action on Saturday for the Hockey Challenge and I will be playing in the first game of the day at 11:30.


Seattle sneaks past Portland

Seattle played just well enough to sneak by Portland 4-3.

I still think the Tbirds played uninspired for the most part... but the important thing is that they picked up 2 points and moved into 5th place in conference.

Currently they are tied for 5th with Kamloops with 62 points but also have a game in hand on the Blazers.

Seattle got a big night from Jonathan Parker who tallied 2 goals and 2 assists including the Power Play game winner with just over a minute to play in the game. Greg Scott also added 2 goals and an assist and Prab Rai had two assists.

It was a sloppy game for the most part but I thought Seattle did a nice job of just getting pucks to the front of the net on Portland goaltender Kurtis Mucha and sending multiple guys to crash for rebounds which is exactly how the 2nd and 3rd goals were scored.

Calvin Pickard wasn't as solid tonight as he was the previous night but also didn't get as much help from his defense in clearing rebounds as he did on Friday night at home.

Seattle returns home tomorrow night with a chance to sweep the weekend and start to get a little traction on that 5th place spot. To do it... they will have to beat the Vancouver Giants again who actually have been struggling a bit lately and needed overtime to beat the Kamloops Blazers tonight. Vancouver is "only" 7-2-1 now in their last 10 games and I believe will still be without star defensemen Jon Blum.

Pickard carries Seattle...

Seattle got the goaltending they have been looking for last night as Calvin Pickard stopped all 36 Spokane shots he saw and the Tbirds earned a 3-0 win.

With the win Seattle moves one point ahead of Everett and one point behind Kamloops and sit in 6th place in the Conference.

Sena Acolatse's goal stood up as the winner and Jim O'Brien beat Dustin Tokarski with a slap shot blast to give the Tbirds a 2 goal cushion.

Seattle continued their inconsistent play in beating Spokane by 3 just less than 48 hours after losing by 4 in Spokane. With the Tbirds consistently inconsistent again the real story is Pickard.

If Seattle can get that kind of goaltending night in and night out... perhaps they have a chance to play with a little more intensity on a nightly basis.

Until that happens... I just can't get too excited about another win at home. Watch closely to see what kind of effort we get tonight in Portland. If the trend holds... you would expect the Tbirds to struggle tonight in Portland and then come out with another good effort at home tomorrow against Vancouver.

Photo credit Mick White - Kent Valley Sports:


Back to hockey...

TBirds are in action tonight to start another big 3 in 3 weekend in their hunt for the 5th spot in the conference.

Couple of notes...

- Some of you have heard about the Albany bus crash that happened early yesterday morning. To clarify what I actually know... Benn Olson was on the bus and he is ok. It was a very long, difficult night for obvious reasons but he managed to escape without serious injury. Four players and one broadcaster were kept at the hospital overnight for observation but the Coach Jeff Daniels has stated that none of the injuries were life or career threatening. The River Rats were to play tonight at home and that game has been rescheduled. The players were to meet today and decide whether they wanted to play Sunday's scheduled game. From reports... the team had their equipment scattered over the road as well and goaltender Justin Peters goal mask had been flattened like a pancake and the team wasn't even sure they had the equipment available to play. Here is hoping that all the players recover both physically and mentally.

- I am working on a prospect update for some 1992 born players, but I think I will wait until early next week to post that with the 3 games on tap this weekend.

- Interesting that the post about Griffey elicited some responses.....


Tbirds lose 7-3, eh whatever

Here is all you need to know about the Tbirds game last night...

Spokane is better than Seattle

Spokane plays well at home

Seattle plays poorly on the Road

The game was played in Spokane


7-3 butt whipping...

I'm sorry to say this to hardcore Tbirds fans who don't care about baseball... but the most important news of yesterday was Ken Griffey, Jr. coming back to Seattle. Growing up I played mostly baseball and hockey and my two favorite players were Junior and Glen Goodall. For obvious reasons Goodall can never return to the Tbirds... but Junior could and now he has. This is a truly exciting moment in Seattle sports and even if he hits .220 it is pretty cool to know that the iconic figure of a local franchise is returning for his swan song.


More 93 updates

Got scooped on a few more kids who are on Seattle's list for 93 born players.

Trey Keenan - 7th Round - Defense

Keenan was drafted and isn't listed on the Tbirds website and I'm told he is no longer on our list.

Joey Baker - Listed - Forward

I don't know as much about these kids since they were listed at some point after the draft. Baker is currently playing for the Kootenay Ice team of the BC MML. He has played in 31 games and has 3 goals and 3 assists to go with 62 PIM's. I don't see anywhere his listed height and weight. Baker was in training camp this fall.

Daniel Dale - Listed - Forward

Dale was in training camp this year as well. It looks to me like Dale started the season with the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan AAA Midget league and shortly after the season started moved over to the Notre Dame Argos where he has played 29 games and has 4 goals and 4 assists with 35 PIM's. His stats for the Hounds are not listed but it looks to me like be played about 5 games and had 31 PIM's.

Kevin Loppatto - Listed - Forward

Loppatto is a kid from Texas and is playing for the Dallas Penguins which is another U16 Tier I AAA team in the Dallas area that plays against Colin Jacobs and his Dallas Stars U16 team. Loppatto and Jacobs also played together with the Texas Attack last year. Individual stats are not listed.

Jordan Salahor - Listed - Forward

Salahor is from Eugene and was also in camp this past fall. I can't come up with where he is playing exactly but I think he is playing for a team called The West Coast Hockey Club. Their website doesn't list the roster nor have any stats. Sorry... Came up empty on that one.


Prospect Updates - 93's

I'm picked through a bunch of things to get an update on some of the prospects that are in Seattle's future.

The Tbirds do not make their "list" public, so I really only have the draft picks to go with. I really wish the Tbirds would make their "list" available... but that's life.

Connor Sanvido - 1st Round - Forward

Sanvido looked like an amazing talent in training camp. He is currently playing for the Vancouver NE Chiefs of the B.C. Major Midget League and is second on the team in points with 16 goals and 14 assists in 33 games. The Chiefs are 13-18-5 and sit 8th in the league. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who was the 1st overall pick for the Red Deer Rebels (and who Tbirds fans got to see play when Red Deer was in town this year) leagues the league with 35 goals and 40 assists in 32 games... and no that is not a typo.

Tanner Muth - 2nd Round - Defense

Muth is currently playing for the Calgary AAA Royals. The Royals qualified for the AMHL playoffs with a record of 21-8-5, and their season is now over. Muth has appeared in 25 games and has 2 goals and 4 assists to go with 42 PIM's.

Ryan Armbruster - 3rd Round - Defense

Armbruster is currently playing for the Swift Current AAA Midget Legionnaires and has played in 7 games and recorded no stats. The Legionnaires are 16-18-4-1 on the season. Armbruster started the season with the Tisdale Trojans and later went home to play AA Midget before being invited to play for Swift Current.

Colin Jacobs - 4th Round - Foward

Jacobs, as you all know, has signed on to play in Seattle next season and has played this season with the Dallas Stars U16 Tier I team. Individual stats are not available, but the team has gone 26-12-4 on the season and will begin their TAHA state playoffs on Friday.

Robbie Newton - 4th Round - Forward

Newton is playing this season for the Saskatoon AAA Midget Contacts in the same league that Ryan Armbruster is playing in. Newton has played in 37 games and has 1 goal and 5 assists to go along with 20 PIM's. The Contacts are 2nd in the league at 23-10-5-2.

Mitch Elliott - 5th Round - Forward

Elliott is playing for the Cariboo Cougars up in Prince George, fellow Tbirds draft pick Dan Gibb is also playing for that team. Elliott, who I remind is 6'5" and 205 lbs already, has played in 26 games and has 1 goal and 2 assists and 26 PIM's. The Cougars are 22-13-1 in the BC MML.

Zach Walker - 5th Round - Defense

Walker is also playing in the Saskatchewan AAA Midget League for the Tisdale Trojans. Tisdale is 23-14-4-1 on the season and Walker has played in 40 games and has 2 goals (1 Power Play) and 7 assists. You might recall that Walker was one of the best young players at training camp this year.

Tyler Alos - 6th Round - Forward

Alos, who if from Spokane, is playing this season with the Coeur d'Alene Lakers... which is a Junior A league team in the Nor Pac League. Alos is having a pretty impressive season notching 16 goals and 13 assists, which is good for 2nd on the team in scoring. Couple of interesting notes here... Tanner Schulze (who is 20) and plays in the league for the Seattle Totems, leads the league in scoring with... 108 points in 46 games, whoa. Also of note... I have no idea where Coeur d'Alene is playing their home games these days as they were playing their games at the Kyro Ice Arena... but on New Years Eve the roof of the Arena collapsed under heavy snow.

Seth Ambroz - 7th Round - Forward

Ambroz was a late round gamble by the Tbirds and it doesn't look like he will materialize. He is playing this season with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL and multiple sources have claimed that he has already given a verbal commitment to attend Minnesota. He wouldn't enter school until the fall of 2011 so things are always subject to change, but it looks like Ambroz is headed the NCAA route. Ambroz has played in 43 games and has 8 goals and 15 assists with 65 PIM's and 113 shots.


Tbirds get past Chilliwack...

This is Chris Cloud driving hard to the net right before dishing to Devon LeBlanc, who made his return tonight and scored the game winning goal in the 3rd period as the Tbirds got themselves a 3-1 win over the Bruins.
Quite honestly... Seattle looked tired tonight and they have struggled with the Bruins all season long in their match-ups. I think someone made a very astute comment earlier today that the Tbirds seem to play to the level of their competition and Chilliwack just isn't a very good team.
The good news is the bigger picture... Seattle took 4 out of 6 possible points over the weekend and have gotten themselves into 6th place in the Western Conference and within striking distance of Kamloops for 5th place.
Calvin Pickard was again solid tonight stopping 24 of 25 shots. I really dislike the 2 goaltender approach and I think Jake and Calvin have shown me again this season why I don't like it. Both Calvin and Jake have played much better when they have been allowed to string together a streak of games. Jake played very well while Calvin was away and now Calvin is playing well while Jake is a little banged up. I wish this team would just settling on a goaltender and treat the other guy like a backup... whoever that is going to be.
Seattle has another busy and difficult week ahead... playing at Spokane on Wednesday night, home against Spokane Friday, at Portland Saturday before returning home for another game against the Vancouver Giants. That is 3 out of 4 games where Seattle would be considered the underdog.
Photos courtesy of Mick White - Kent Valley Sports and all game photos can be found here.

Moller sent out... but not to Seattle

The Kings have sent Oscar Moller to Manchester on a "conditioning assignment".

Let me try to clarify a few things for everyone...

First... note that they have not "assigned" Moller to Manchester. Reason being... as far as I am aware he is not allowed to play in AHL games.

A player who is drafted from the CHL is subjected to CHL rules... even if they are not an American or Canadian player. So to my knowledge... he cannot play games at Manchester.

He did play a couple of games last year in the playoffs for Manchester and that is because the restrictions are lifted for playoff games. Same as in the WHL where a 15 year old can play as many games as they want once the team reaches the playoffs.

I think this pretty much closes the book on Moller coming to Seattle. Clearly the Kings have no intention of playing him in NHL games at this moment in time but that they do intend to play him at some point during the rest of this season. In addition... if I am Russ Farwell.. at some point you ask the Kings not to send him back to lose out on the draft pick upgrade.

I will also add this...

Seattle fans are being selfish by wanting him to come to Seattle... and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I don't care about the LA Kings... I wish them well... but I follow the Thunderbirds, so I want THEM to do well.

But wanted Moller to come to Seattle for selfish motivations... does NOT mean that the reasons why he should be sent to Seattle are selfish.

You simply cannot convince me, ever, that a player is getting the most out of their development by simply practicing with the team and not playing in games. If that were true... you wouldn't even need the AHL or the ECHL. Games matter... a lot in fact and playing in games is very important. Does Moller have anything left to prove in the WHL, no he doesn't... but there is no way he is enhancing his development by simply practicing with the Kings and watching games from the Press Box.

So in conclusion... wanting Moller to come to Seattle is selfish, but that doesn't mean the logic behind sending him here is wrong.

I think this issue will linger for another couple of weeks... but I have a feeling now that he will not be coming to Seattle.

Seattle gets back on track with win over Portland

Seattle batters Portland last night 7-2 to get back in the win column.

A night like last night really doesn't do anything to make me less frustrated with this team. Portland grabbed a 2-1 lead with a goal by Chris Francis (14th) 1:23 into the second period.

Seattle started to get it going as Prab Rai picked up his first of three assists on a picture perfect cross slot feed to Greg Scott. Photo credits to Mick White - Kent Valley Sports.

Brett Ponich and Sena Acolatse then got tangled up near the Portland net and Acolatse had his second scrap of the night.
Ponich ended up taking the extra penalty for Cross Checking and the fight seemed to galvanize Seattle. Moments later... Greg Scott buried another PP goal. Scott has scored from nearly the identical spot at the ShoWare Center at least two other times previously and this one was a beautiful "Bar Down" wrister over the shoulder of goaltender Ian Curtis and the floodgates were opened. Little over a minute later, Erik Fleming flipped home a backhand to extend the lead to 4-2 and Kurtis Mucha came on to replace Curtis. As a side note... I thought the yanking of Curtis was a strange move on the part of Portland coach Mike Johnston. Curtis had not played great up to that point, but had also faced 26 shots through only 32 minutes of work and I thought only the first goal was really one you could have faulted him for.... anyways...
After that... the Tbirds continued their onslaught and before you knew it Seattle had skated away with a 7-2 victory.
Prab Rai finished the night with a goal and 3 assists while Greg Scott and Jim O'Brien each had 2 goals and 1 assists. Jeremy Boyer also had a goal and an assist and Thomas Hickey added 3 assists.
Calvin Pickard again looks shaky at times... but again recovered from an early soft goal to post 27 saves in 29 shots.
For more game photos... please visit Mick's game page found here.


Moller not playing...

Oscar Moller is a healthy (presumably) scratch for the Kings this afternoon...

While we can debate the merits of getting 9 minutes a game in the NHL over being sent back to your WHL club, there is no point in debating the merits of sitting in the press box with a suit on over playing 25-30 minutes a night in the WHL. If they aren't going to play him... do him and us a big favor and let him finish the season with the Tbirds.

Wishful thinking still? Maybe... but it also makes a lot of sense if he isn't going to play for the Kings.



I want explanations... I want someone to explain to me how a team can beat Vancouver (the best team in the WHL, apologies to Calgary) and then 5 days later lose 4-0 to Everett.

The officiating was not good in this game and Everett cashed in on 3 of 8 Power Plays and that was clearly the difference in the game... but it didn't have to be the difference in the game.

The inconsistency of this team absolutely drives me crazy... one game we look like a team that has some of the best players in the league and could beat anyone on any given night and the next game we get shutout on 24 shots on the road to an average Everett team.

Am I going nuts? What is the problem here? Players? Coaches? Leadership? (doubtful) Talent? Desire? Injuries? Goaltending? Offense? (tonight clearly) Defense? (other nights clearly)

What is the problem here...???

Let's pretend to be Rob Sumner for about 20 hours. What is the one thing this team has to focus on to find some consistency.

How much is 9:09 minutes worth?

Oscar Moller was finally activated by the Kings last night and played 9 minutes and 9 seconds in their 2-0 loss to Calgary.

Tons of questions... and not many answers.

Does 9 minutes of playing time indicated that the Kings are set on keeping him with the big club?

Is 9 minutes a game in the NHL more beneficial to a players development than 25-30 minutes per game in the WHL?

How much more valuable is NHL ice time to WHL ice time? The debate isn't which is more important... playing in the NHL is obviously better competition, etc. The question is... for the benefit of the development of the player, which is better?

Is NHL ice time twice as important as WHL ice time? 3 times? Is it not even measurable? Is it simply a case where if he plays for the Kings at all that he should stay with them?

What happens if the Kings wait until the NHL trade deadline (March 4th) to tell Seattle they want to send him back? Do the TBirds still want him... knowing that they will have to upgrade the draft pick to Chilliwack to a 2nd round pick?

I'm not sure I have the answers to these questions. If I allow myself to be completely biased, it seems to me like playing 25-30 minutes in the WHL, playing on a top line with two other NHL properties, logging a ton of Power Play time for the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs... would be more valuable than 9 minutes a night in the NHL.

In addition... Luca Sbisa was sent back by Lethbridge after playing in 39 games because after 40 games it counts as a full year of progress towards the players Free Agency year. Do the Kings wait until Moller reaches 39 games and then sends him back?

I don't have any idea what is going to happen and this issue might still hang in limbo for a longer period of time.


Moller Update and Photos

First off... I know most of you may have already seen this but Rich Hammond at Inside the Kings is reporting that the Kings are at least thinking about sending Moller to Seattle.

This isn't really anything we didn't already pretty much know about... but it is more or less a public statement by Lombardi that they are considering sending him back.

I still stick to my initial prediction that he plays a couple of games and if his minutes just aren't there he will be coming to Seattle. The Kings play at home tonight, Saturday and Monday. I suspect we will know something by Tuesday.


I'm very happy and pleased to announce that local photographer and Tbirds fan Mick White has given me permission to use his game photos on the blog. Mick and his team take a ton of pictures at the Tbirds game and I am quite honestly thrilled to be able to borrow his stuff and use it on the blog.

Quick reminder to donate to my team for the Hockey Challenge. You can do that here. Please reference the E&D Team Tyler Hunnex.


New blog address...

This will be much easier to type and much easier to remember... so I decided to take the plunge.

You can still get to the blog with the old URL but you can now also get here by punching in

Moller Activated

I don't think this closes the door on Moller being sent to Seattle, but I think this is a sign that the Kings have intentions on playing him in LA and not in Seattle.

Open letter...

Dear Mr. Lombardi-

Just send Oscar Moller to Seattle... please... we are all begging you. Tonight he was basically a healthy scratch because you guys are on a roll and you don't want to mess things up and you won again in OT. That's fine... totally understandable... but give the kid a chance to play 30 minutes a night. You aren't hurting him by sending him back to the WHL and you certainly aren't helping by having him just practice with the Kings and wear a suit at night.

This is public begging.. grovelling... pleading!!

Send Oscar to Seattle... please?

Sincerely... Tyler... and Tbirds Nation


For what it's worth...

The new weekly update is up.... I have a feeling this isn't the whole story but....


#12 David Richard – Hand – 1-2 weeks
#18 Lindsay Nielsen – Ankle – 2 -3 weeks
#24 Devon LeBlanc – Hip Flexor – day to day
#29 Jacob DeSerres – Groin – day to day

Hockey Challenge 2009

Dear readers...

I have been asked by a friend of mine to participate in the Hockey Challenge this year. As some of you may know, the Hockey Challenge is an event put on by the Thunderbirds in conjunction with Microsoft and the Ronald McDonald House to raise money for the RMH.

The RMH is a very important part of Seattle's Children's Hospital, providing a place for families to stay while their kids are receiving treatment.

My team represents the "Entertainment & Devices" Division of Microsoft and we will be playing in the first game of the day at 11:35 in the morning.

The team goal this year is to raise over $10,000.

I know that in the current economic climate, it is very difficult to ask people for donations. No amount is too small and donations can be made online for as little as you feel comfortable.

Please visit and follow the instructions to donate online. When making a donation online PLEASE reference E&D Team (Tyler Hunnex) so that the funds are counted for our team total.

For anyone who doesn't already have tickets to the Tbirds game on the 28th against the Winterhawks, I encourage you to do so. The Tbirds issued a press release this morning.

For anyone who feels compelled to donate... I thank you very much in advance even if you can only spare $5.


Just watched the Parker Major...

Let me first say that obviously we never want to see any of these kids hurt... and Chet Pickard played in net for the Americans last night so obviously he is not injured.

As a fan of the Tbirds I often find myself questioning and constantly trying to curb my enthusiasm for the team in an effort to be objective. I guess my goal would be to never be called a "homer" and to never have anyone think that my opinion is based either solely or even in part simply towards the best interest of the Tbirds.

Having said that....

All this talk about Parker getting a Charging Major and being suspended in my opinion is complete and total crap.

I just watched the video from the Americans feed and here is my take.

- The play develops as a 3 on 2 for Seattle with Wells bringing the puck over the blue line on the right side of the zone.

- He leaves a pass for Parker who takes a shot from the high slot that Pickard stops but allows the rebound to trickle out to the near post to his left at the bottom of the circle.

- Parker, following his own shot has the puck coming towards him and swings to get a stick on the rebound at which point Pickard alertly pokes the puck over his stick and towards the near side boards to the blue line.

- At the point at which the puck jumps over Parker's stick he is no more than 2 feet from Pickard with his momentum going straight forward at near full speed.

- As the puck clears Parker's stick he could have made one of potentially three choices... Peel off to the left towards the middle of the goal and/or the far goal post, try to stop and potentially fall over Pickard, or peel off to the right.

- Parker chooses what would prove to be the wrong course of action and peels to the right where he runs into Pickard. Clearly in this case a poor decision....

- On the video you can clearly see that Parker's arms never come up, his stick never comes up, and his feet never leave the ground until after the collision as he is tripping over the fallen Pickard.

In my opinion... this is a textbook 2 minute minor for Goaltender Interference and nothing more. I see a player trying to score on a rebound who failed miserable to avoid the goaltender after the puck hops over his stick. To call this a 5 minute Charging Major is really a shame because it places it in the same category as a truly dangerous hit that includes an intent to injure.

This is nothing more than a guy accidentally running into a goaltender, who despite leaving the game was clearly not hurt on the play. I think if he is suspended for more than 1 game the league really gets it wrong.

As an added note... can I please get a set of home team announcers who don't automatically jump to the conclusion that best suits the home team?? Anyone? All I'm asking for is an announcer who can hope for the best for their home club while calling a game objectively at the same time... is it really so tough to do that?

Tbirds clinch playoff birth... sort of

Alan Caldwell did all the mathematical work on this one for me... which is why he also has an incredible WHL blog.

The post can be found here but the general idea is that a team in the Western Conference has to get to roughly 55 points in order to make the playoffs.

Today the Tbirds sit at 25-27-4 which is good for 54 points. The Tbirds would need to go only 0-15-1 the rest of the way to still get to 55 points and probably make the playoffs.

So while they have not mathematically clinched a playoff spot they would need a historic collapse in order to miss them.

Still no word yet on how long Jon Parker will be suspended for the Charging Major he received on Saturday night in Tri-City.


Seattle brings down the mighty Giants

Seattle uses a mix of excellent play and a sprinkle of luck tonight to take down the Vancouver Giants and hand them only their 5th regulation loss of the season.

Thomas Hickey had two goals while Greg Scott added a goal and two assists for the Tbirds tonight.

Hickey's two goals coming tonight on his 20th birthday.

It goes without saying that this was a big win for Seattle and getting 4 out of a possible 6 points this weekend over 3 quality opponents qualifies as a very successful weekend. The ability of the Tbirds to bounce back after a horrible night last night on the road to put forth their best game of the season has to be commended.

We'll get the bad news out of the way first. Seattle lost Devon LeBlanc in the first period with an undisclosed leg injury and Jacob DeSerres wasn't even dressed tonight and honestly I have no idea who the kid was who suited up as the back up goaltender... he was not even listed in the box score report.

Now for the good parts...

-Chris Cloud obviously has a bone to pick with the Vancouver Giants. Cloud has just a bit more pep in his step against the Giants and it showed again tonight as he picked up Seattle's first goal of the game off a feed from Devon LeBlanc (before the injury obviously). The goal was scored 4 on 4 and Thomas Hickey scored a Power Play goal shortly after to give the Tbirds a 2-1 lead.

-Calvin Pickard was again not good in the first period giving up a soft goal to Pierro-Zabotel 52 seconds into the game and two more first period goals on longer shots from Mike Piluso and Nick Ross. But Pickard recovered to post back to back scoreless periods in the 2nd and 3rd and ended up stopping 32 of 35 shots on the night.

-Dillon had a horrible night, misplaying the puck on the goal by Piluso and getting a penalty a few minutes later that led to the Ross Power Play goal.

-The overall team defense tonight in the 2nd and 3rd periods was excellent and was more like what we have seen in the past years from the Tbirds. A lot of the Vancouver shots came from the outside and a majority of the time the rebounds were cleared out by the defenders. While Vancouver had their chances and Seattle has to feel fortunate to have dodged a few Giant bullets, I also feel like they deserved the luck they got tonight.

Seattle now pulls to within 2 games of .500 at 25-27-4, good for 54 points and they currently sit 1 point behind Everett (who won tonight) and 3 points behind Kamloops (idle tonight) with one game in hand. Oh... by the way... Kelowna took down Spokane tonight and Seattle sits 15 points behind Kelowna and 17 points behind Spokane.... it's going to be pretty tough to catch either one of those two teams.


Tale of two nights...

Seattle is simply hammered tonight in Kennewick 7-1 at the hands of the Americans. The result is certainly a concern... but the bigger concern is the health of goaltender Jacob DeSerres who suddenly left the game in the 2nd period after stopping all 14 shots he saw.

Calvin Pickard then entered at the 11 minute mark of the 2nd period and promptly gave up 4 goals on 9 shots for the rest of the period and the Tbirds turned a 1-0 lead into a 4-1 deficit.

In Pickard's defense... being a backup goaltender who has to enter in the middle of the game has got to be one of the toughest jobs in sports. As much as they try to stay "ready"... having to enter the game in the middle of the period, ice cold, is nearly impossible. Starting at a new period is tough enough... but coming in mid period is just really difficult.

The carnage only got worse in the 3rd period as the Americans tacked on 3 more goals and Jon Parker picked up a Charging Major with about a minute and a half left in the game.

The good news is... I didn't expect the Tbirds to win this game and as bad as it was... it's only one game. The bigger concern is what happened to DeSerres, how bad it is, and how long he might be out.

Seattle and Vancouver both get a tough turnaround as they both sit on the bus right now headed back to Kent to face off tomorrow for a 5:05 start time.

If anyone reading this blog actually isn't going to the game tomorrow, the game will be carried on FSN.

More thoughts on last night's big win...

Seattle scores the final 4 goals of the game last night and picked up a big 2 points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Greg Scott was simply amazing last night scoring 4 times while adding an assist for a 5 point night. Jon Parker had 4 assists and Prab Rai also had a goal and 4 assists on the night.

Scott also missed on a penalty shot in the 2nd period. Metsola stoned him with a big glove save on the play.

Seattle was not great early in this game as they allowed Brody Sutter to walk unmarked into the slot and finish a pass from Brent Henke. The checking and intensity were not quite there in the early going and it allowed Lethbridge to take a 2-1 lead on a Power Play goal by Zach Boychuk mid way through the first period.

Calvin Pickard was not great early, making only 7 saves on 9 shots in the first period and giving up a goal to Boychuk early in the 2nd period but he recovered and played very well the rest of the way giving up only the Power Play goal on the doorstep to Kyle Beach. Ah yes... Mr. Beach.... who gave Lethbridge a very important 4-3 lead with about 15 minutes to play in the game and taunted the crowd after the goal.

But Seattle had the last laugh as Scott chipped in his own rebound over Metsola to tie the game at 4 with over 8 minutes left and Rai gave the Tbirds the lead for good with 3 minutes left off a feed from Scott.

Two minutes later Sena Acolatse stuffed in a rebound off a Jim O'Brien shot and Scott added the empty netter to cap the 5 goal period and give the Tbirds the 7-4 win.

With the win... Seattle moves to within 1 point of Everett who picked up an overtime point last night in Kelowna despite being out shot 47-16 and within 5 points of Kamloops with 2 games still in hand.

Tbirds will have plenty of action coming up and it continues tonight in Tri-City and return home to face the WHL-best Vancouver Giants tomorrow at the ShoWare Center.

The crowd at the Sho last night was awesome and you can literally feel the momentum building in that Arena. The crowds are getting bigger and the Birds are showing a habit of coming back late in games and really setting the crowd on fire.... It would be great to see that again on Sunday and see the Tbirds go for the big upset over the Giants. First things first though as the Tbirds try to get points from a very tough Americans team who also play incredible well at home.

Well that wasn't boring...

What an incredible come from behind victory by the Tbirds tonight. I went out to enjoy a few beverages after the exciting win (probably a reason why I don't get paid to do this??) so I will have some more specific thoughts tomorrow.

Greg Scott and Prab Rai were incredible tonight and what a big win for the Birds.


I'm bored...


I feel like I haven't had anything to write about all week and it's a little disappointing.

There is no update on Moller, who still has not played for the Kings since returning from injury and I have no clue what that does to the probability that he comes to Seattle.

The Tbirds are stuck in this exhilarating race for the 5th to 7th spots in the Western Conference, where their playoff destiny likely will hinge on the match-up in the first round.

Who would you rather play in a 7 game series..... Tri-City, Spokane or Kelowna??

This weekend looms large... as Seattle will be "favored" to only win 1 of the 3 games on tap. Anything more than 2 points will be somewhat unexpected and 4 points or more would be outstanding.


Monday Morning thoughts...

In an effort to continue trying to be positive about this team... I will say that after an 0-2 start to the week, getting to 2-2 feels pretty darn good.

One thought on the comments. Look guys and gals... I really don't want to censor people. I love the fact that this blog has come from a day when I never got comments (and wondered if anyone was reading) to having multiple posts lately where we had over 20 comments on one post. I want everyone to feel like they can voice their opinion, I love when people disagree with me... but this isn't the forum board (nothing against it) and it just isn't going to be. If you are going to resort to childish retort... I'll just delete it. Find a way to intelligently articulate a point or go troll the message boards. My hope is that I don't really have to address this again or very often because quite frankly I know it isn't entertaining to read me whine and complain about comments.

I know there was some disagreement over whether Seattle "deserved" the 2 points on Saturday against Kelowna, but the bottom line is that they got the job done and picked up the extra point in the overtime period. The win in Everett was a big one for many reasons... the most immediate of which is that it pulls Seattle to within a point of the Silvertips in the standings. I still stand by my prediction that Seattle will wind up in front of Everett in the Western Conference but I'm not so sure anymore about Seattle catching and passing Kamloops... the head to head losses amounted to an 8 point swing where I was counting on Seattle splitting (which would have obviously been a 0 point swing/no swing). Tbirds have to play pretty lights out at home the rest of the way to catch Kamloops or hope Kamloops goes into a bit of a tailspin.

Revisiting the prediction?

Seattle has been a bit of a mixed bag (sounds like this season huh?). They are on pace with the 4-2 record I had them with against Everett as they are 2-1 since that time and they picked up a win over Tri-City, but they also would need to now win 2/3 over Spokane (2 are at home) and I had them winning both over Kamloops and they actually lost both which I talked about above... a huge 8 point swing. They picked up a .5 over expected by beating Kelowna, but lost that .5 point by losing to Medicine Hat. Seattle needs a win Friday over Lethbridge or they will risk falling further off the pace.

Spokane still hasn't lost... so catching them is totally out of the picture. They are 9-0 since I crunched the numbers and they would need to lose all 4 of their remaining match-ups with Tri-City (and that is the reason why Spokane has closed the gap so quickly with Tri), twice to Seattle, twice to Kelowna, once at Koots, and twice to Vancouver which doesn't seem like as much of a slam dunk with the way the Chiefs have been playing. Oh btw... the first of those Vancouver-Spokane games... this Friday in Spokane.

My prediction on Everett is actually looking pretty good. Despite getting only 6 points since my projections they really aren't too far off what I expected them to do. They are definitely off the projected pace with Spokane as I pegged them for 2-2 and they are already 0-2.

Kamloops has obviously given themselves the edge in the race for 5th as they picked up two wins over Seattle and a .5 point over expected against Medicine Hat.

Other notes for today....

- Benn Olson recently returned from injury and was sent down to the ECHL's Florida Everblades. As I understand it, Olson is being sent out to get some games under his belt with the Everblades having 7 games in a 10 day stretch. Olson returned this weekend and fought twice... locking up the second night with old friend Myles Stoesz, formerly of the Spokane Chiefs (also Chilliwack and Regina).

- Luca Sbisa has been returned to the Lethbridge Hurricanes after playing 39 games with the Philadelphia Flyers. I wouldn't bother mentioning this normally except for the fact that Seattle plays Lethbridge on Friday. That is a big boost to the Hurricanes right before heading out on their US Division tour (except Spokane).

- Oscar Moller has not yet returned to action for the Los Angeles Kings. I actually think this might slightly increase the chance of him coming to Seattle. He is travelling with the Kings on their 5 game road trip, which would suggest that he is to return very soon. He also participated with full contact in the Kings practice today. I will still state that we will probably figure out real quick whether there is a chance of him coming back based on his minute numbers.

- I've been told that the Tbirds are actively running radio ads for their ticket deal for Friday.

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