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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Correction and Rouse hit

Correction from what I said earlier... there is NO free WHL stream for tonight's game. I guess that ended on the 29th.

Also... got to look at and replay the Rouse hit a few times. I think it is unfortunate because Rouse did bump him, it was from behind and the Klassen did go down hard. To that extent, as bad as the officiating was last night I really can't say I blame them for making the call.

Now... did Rouse deserve a Major? No, not really... there was no malicious intent. Might have been a bad decision but certainly nothing you would call dirty or excessive. I think I'm pretty comfortable with a major and a 1 game suspension. If he received anything more than that it would be excessive but to my knowledge he will get only the 1 game suspension.

I can handle stupid...

My biggest complaint about Sunday's game against Chilliwack was the complete lack of hustle and effort by most of the roster. Last night against a very good Saskatoon team, the Tbirds only really played one "good" period of hockey but at least they played "hard" for 3 periods... and I can live with that, for now.

Seattle digs itself a hole it almost was able to climb out of last night. Falling 4-3 to the East Division leading Blades. It's easy to pick on the Tbirds for the penalties at the start of the game but I really didn't think either one was really that bad. Especially the Warg penalty. That call was atrocious by an officiating crew who had a terrible night. That kind of pushing and shoving happens every single time the puck is frozen by a goaltender and Montsion/Byblow decided that the time to call that was with Seattle already down a man.

Ok... side rant about the officials. I hate complaining about officials but wow it seems like I wind up doing it a lot more than I probably should. I guess it is only fair to complain about the officials having a bad night if we're going to complain about teams and players having bad nights. That crew last night had a horrible night. The first call of the game, an interference call on Dillon, I am fine with as long as you are going to uphold that same level of enforcement for interference the rest of the game. Of course... they didn't. In the 3rd period Lockhart is interfered with in a way that was just as bad and just as far away from the puck as the Dillon call and they let it go. They miss an obvious high sticking on Ramsay and then drill him with an Unsportsmanlike Conduct (which was deserved but Ramsay was rightfully upset). They screw up the roughing call on Warg that led to a 5 on 3 for the Blades... and it wasn't just against Seattle... I'm not that biased. The holding call on Morin was also really soft.

In addition, Digby raised my ire as well. Look buddy... you're a linesman, your job is to call offsides and break up scrums. There isn't a single person in the arena who was there to see you and how well you can police faceoff circles. Twice Digby interrupts a faceoff to push wingers back when they weren't even inside the faceoff circle. God complex just a little bit? Power trip just a little? Look guys... your job is to go unnoticed and you failed at that last night. Just like Seattle, I hope you bounce back with a better effort on your assignments tonight.

Ok... back to the game.

Seattle just couldn't dig themselves out of the early hole but it wasn't for lack of trying. For the most part I really liked what I saw from their effort. They may not have played very smart in the first two periods, they may not have played very well in the first two periods... but they played hard and eventually hard work is rewarded and it certainly was in the 3rd period.

A few observations.

- Chance Lund... nice to see you. I've only been waiting 88 games to see you do something like that. Forget the goals (but really how could you). Lund flashed some speed last night I hadn't really seen and even if the first goal had been stopped my Morrison as it should have been I was very impressed with the speed. The second goal, just as good if not better because he went to the net hard like he should. When you are as big as Lund you have to use your size to get to the net and he did that in a big way on that 2nd goal. A fan pointed out to me lately that Lund has been playing much better and honestly I hadn't really seen it... but boy I sure did last night. Welcome to the show Chance Lund... can't wait to see more of that.

- Let's not get too carried away with the game that Branden Troock had last night... but boy he sure did look pretty good. He looked nervous early and I saw on one play he didn't really go after the puck as he should have trying to avoid getting hit, but he seemed to quickly get over that and showed some nice awareness to go with an ability to shoot the puck. Troock nearly scored on his first ever shot in the league but was instead rewarded later with his first point when Lund knocked in his rebound in the 3rd period. It will be nice to see this kid develop over the next couple of years. I'm not sure we have seen a 15 year old debut like that since, gulp, Thomas Hickey... Again... let's try not to get too far ahead of ourselves.

- Attached to the last comment. The best line on the team last night was Lund-Alos-Troock. Alos remains one of my favorite players on this roster because of the way he hustles all over the ice and his willingness to throw his body around despite a relatively smallish frame.

- Prab Rai is still really good at hockey.

- Speaking of my favorite players. Let's talk about Scott Ramsay's night. Starts a fight 23 seconds into the game because he is a tough guy and wants to get the team going. Unfortunately, both him Dziurzynski (I will not type that again) lost their balance and fell before any real punches could be throw and in the process Ramsay wound up hurting his hand... doesn't play the rest of the period but gets patched up and returns for the 2nd only to get high-sticked (the missed call) gets a penalty yelling at the Referee, goes off again to get patched up, returns before the period ends and goes straight on the ice (good move Rob) and basically plays a double shift. The cap to my Rammer night would have been a rematch with the player who will not be typed again. By the way... Ramsay was +1 and is +6 on the season which is tops on the team.

- Honestly I didn't see the hit Rouse laid on the Saskatoon player to draw the Major for CFB because I was looking for Ramsay and said untyped player to start a rematch but I was told it was a good call. I guess they got one right last night. I'll dial up the replay today and take another look. This would logically put Rouse out for tonight's game in Portland. Look for Troock to definitely be in the lineup again and possible a Tutt sighting? or more likely Mitch Elliot.

Seattle heads down to Portland this morning for the annual New Years Eve game that starts at the strange time of 8 pm. As a reminder, the WHL is allowing fans to watch the crappy Insinc game feeds for free over the holidays so everyone can go to and watch the game tonight. Hey, I can't really complain about free even if the video quality still sucks.


Seattle vs. Saskatoon Game Thread

Comment of the week... from of course Anonymous... I wish I could give this person due credit.

"Everyone should try to make they're (sic) own conclusions about players. When you watch the games look for players who stay too high in the defensive zone and do not stay high when they're (sic) the 3rd man to enter the offensive zone. Look for players who avoid doing the work in the corners and along the board and allow others to do the work so they can pick up the loose puck. Watch the players who hold the puck too long and will shoot from anywhere rather than pass. Watch who really backchecks and who just halfheartedly goes through the motions. If you look at the +/- for the first half it will also give you some clues."

Comment of the week. I'm not sure I could have said it better myself.

I will add... don't just look for these things and notice them one time. Every player is bound to slip up at times. Look for the players with whom you see it happen often and consistently. Basically... don't notice Nielsen not dig a puck out one time and try to tell me why he sucks. We are looking for patterns here, not single occurrences that validate your own opinion.


Dust Storm

That was a pretty nice dust storm I kicked up yesterday wasn't it??

Let me clarify a few points here.

- Earlier in the season I have preached patience for the fact that this team is very young and generally inexperienced and didn't have the veteran high end talent that other Seattle teams have had in previous seasons. These "excuses" all still apply to the team we saw on Sunday night but I think there is one very big difference. I have said all along I wouldn't get too caught up in the wins and losses and my frustration stems a lot more from the lack of effort and team play than the fact that they lost the game. Was I happy when the game was tied 1-1 after the 1st?? Heck no, I was pissed... Was I happy when they led 2-1 after the 2nd? A little bit. Was I happy that we sent the game to regulation and "earned" a point?? Heck no... because the 3rd period stunk, the 1st period stunk and the 2nd period was just ok. Losing with effort is much different from losing with no effort and no heart and that is what we saw from the Tbirds on Sunday.

- I love the fact that people disagree with me. I do. In fact I welcome it. What the heck do I know... I'm just some guy who grew up playing hockey and watching the Tbirds and I was never good enough to play past Bantams. My opinion is just one of many... but... if you're going to come on here and disagree with me or provide an opinion, don't expect me to take you very seriously if you provide no facts or at least an attempt at evidence. If you don't... just expect that I will say "well that's your opinion, you are entitled to it..." and nothing more.

- I'm really not sure how Nielsen has become the lightning rod for this conversation. I'm not saying Lindsay is the greatest 20 year old to ever play for Seattle but I could probably name 7 or 8 players on this team that I'm a lot less happy with than him. Like I said... everyone is entitled to their opinion but I have to assume that the coaches and Farwell probably agree with me and not with you guys. I'll take my chances with that... no offense to anyone.

- I'm not saying trade everyone... haha. I'm saying, the coaches and the players know which guys are playing hard and which ones aren't. They also know which guys are playing for the team and which guys are not. I'm just advocating trading the players who aren't playing hard and/or aren't playing for the name on the front of the jersey. Give me 22 guys who want to play for the Seattle Thunderbirds and don't play like they need goals to improve their draft status and I will take the wins with the losses. In two years, if you are a contender you can afford to grab a player like Mitch Fadden who can help put you over the top. You have to build that foundation first and I don't see that happening with this group.

I'm very curious and anxious to see how the team responds on Wednesday against a Saskatoon team that it probably top 3 or 4 in the entire WHL.


Troock added to Roster

Already noted on the forum board. Branden Troock has been added to the roster and I believe he was in the arena as a healthy scratch last night.

At this point... I'd love to see him get in there and see if he will at least hustle and play a solid team game.

Tbirds get what they deserve...

This is going to be pretty short, sweet (rotten?) and to the point.

That game last night was disgusting. The game last night left me significantly less hopeful for the future than I was 24 hours ago and (of course) I will tell you why.

That was a Seattle team that just doesn't care about winning. Chilliwack sucks people, they aren't good... Seattle has loads more talent... but at least the Bruins play hard, at least they played with an edge to their game, with some effort, with some desire.

The 1st period last night was one of the worst I have seen by a Seattle team in a while and only by the grace of God, er Pickard, they somehow were tied 1-1 at the end of the period. Seattle should be lucky that Pickard didn't just fall out the zamboni door with how much the ice appeared tilted towards their own zone.

The trade deadline is just a couple of weeks away and after what I saw last night, this team is full of players who just don't care enough to be winners. I would be completely in favor of cleaning house and getting rid of a bunch of players. Maybe they will play harder in a difference system or in a different city.... who knows.

Over the next week or so I'm going to be working on a post for the trade deadline that will take a look at every player on the roster and my opinion on some of them changed after last night.

On the slightly positive side... it isn't everyone. Some players are trying, a lot aren't. Prab Rai had a sick goal last night and Calvin Pickard was the only reason why Seattle nearly stole 2 points from Chilliwack.

This isn't a coaching problem, this is a player problem. Unfortunately, it is usually easier to fire the coach than fire the players... except in Junior Hockey where players aren't really contracts and big signing bonuses (well... not really). This is a systemic problem and if Russ were as smart as I think he is he would be on the phone getting rid of any player who doesn't want to work hard and play the game hard the right way.

"When you pull on that jersey, the name on the front is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back." - Herb Brooks

Find me some more players who believe in this and I'll get excited about this team.



An announcement that has been in the WHL Media Guide for the entire season (I don't know this, but I've been told) finally was made public(?) as the WHL put out an official press release on their website.

Good news for Tbirds fans as 3 of the games that will be aired will be Seattle road games.

January 29th at Spokane
February 4th at Portland
March 5th at Kelowna

There will be other games as well and the full schedule and release can be found here.


Winter break....

I just want to wish everyone a happy holiday... we all get a 7 day break from hockey which is actually a bit shorter than normal.

Seattle hits the break just a game past their actually midpoint in the season at 13-19-5 good for 31 points and 9th in the Western Conference.

We have seen some really good play by this team and some real stinkers by this team on nights where they just don't seem to want to work hard enough to earn points. The good news is that you really aren't even that far away from Kelowna in the 6th spot in the west and this team can still definitely make the playoffs if they want it badly enough.

The PP has not been spectacular but has been a solid improvement in the first half checking in at 19.7% which is good for 14th in the WHL.

The PK has been truly outstanding led by Lindsay Nielsen, Charles Wells and others. Seattle is killing penalties at a clip of 84.6%, good for 2nd in the WHL. Even better... at the start of the season they were taking too many penalties and putting too much pressure on their PK and as of late they have improved that as well.

A good PK always starts with your goaltender and that has really been the biggest story for the TBirds in the first half. I'm just going to go ahead and say it without qualification... at 17 years old I think Calvin Pickard is already the best goaltender in the WHL. Pickard has the 7th best GAA in the league despite being the only goaltender in the top 12 to have double digit losses (a testament to the quality of his own team).

In addition he ranks 2nd in the league behind James Reid in Save Percentage at 92.4% to Reid's 92.7%. While trailing Reid by 3 tenths of a percent in save percentage Pickard has done it facing an additional 324 shots.

Or said another way... Pickard has faced 35.13 shots per game to just 28.33 for Reid.

He also posted a 57 save shutout of the top team in the Western Conference in one of the best goaltending performances I have ever seen.

Which leads me to my last comment on the first half of the season before I take a little bit of a break myself this week.

I know people/fans have been a bit frustrated by this team. I know that people are frustrated that ShoWare Center isn't sold out every single game (or weekend at least). I know that some of these boys can be very frustrating to watch at times.... but.... Calvin Pickard is the kind of goalie you truly build championships around and this team has 2.5 more years to put together a team around him that can win a our first WHL Championship and that is the task that Russ Farwell has ahead of him. To a certain extent, I don't really care about the outcome of games this year. Sure... I'm happy when they win, I'm upset when they lose, but this season is nothing more than 72 chances for this team and this organization to see where they are at for 2010-11 and 2011-12.

During the break I will be working on the annual trade deadline post and we will take a look at what Seattle might be able to do before the deadline to better prepare themselves for the next two seasons. Until then... Happy Holidays to everyone.


Game #37 vs. Swift Current Broncos Game Thread

Tbirds try to run the winning streak to 2...

A morning after running commentary...

(please excuse the formatting I can't figure out what blogger is doing this morning)

These dang holiday parties keep me from watching or going to some of these December games... but never fear loyal readers I have fired up the old Insinc machine for a little running commentary here early on this Saturday morning.

- Tyler Alos comes out like a house of fire in his hometown delivers two nice hits early in the game. I think Alos is really going to be a player eventually. Right now he is still learning and that's why he is still on the 4th "checking" line but he gives you great effort when he is out there.

- Prab cuts to the middle and is saved on a shot that honestly I expect him to bury. That is a scorer in a really dangerous scoring location.

- Seattle with good effort early... Pickard with a big stop from the same scoring location and kicks it out with the right pad.

- Roughing penalty on Mitch Wahl and Seattle goes on an early PP.

- Pretty good stuff from the 1st unit PP for Seattle but really nothing from the 2nd unit.

- Pickard with a big save on Miller at the near post.

- Dangerous pass by Jacobs in his own zone almost stolen by the Chiefs.

- Another penalty to Mitch Wahl and this one is a slashing.

- Seattle has to take better care of the puck on the PP... they basically just gave it away twice before getting set in the zone.

- I said it several weeks ago... Teams are now bearing down on Sena a lot more expecting that slap shot on the PP. Sena is still doing a pretty good job getting good shots off but he isn't being given nearly the space he was before.

- Nice pass by Wells re-directed by Nielsen and saved by Reid.

- Big save by Pickard on Letts... that line of Elliott, Lund and Alos just can't get the puck out of the zone.

- Spokane P by P guy screams about a tripping no-call.

- Parker works a puck that "scoring zone" in the high slot but is saved by Reid. Pretty good shot and pretty good save by Reid reaching up with the glove. Maybe I'm wrong about Reid... maybe is he good... I don't know, I'm still confused because I think generally speaking Spokane just plays really good defense.

- Spokane should have been up 1-0 on basically a 2-0 in front of the net but Tanner Mort's shot was deflected at the last moment by Fleming.

- Spokane has the momentum here now with 5 minutes left in the period... Pickard makes another stop on Letts.

- Good pad save by Reid on Parker.

- Dillon wrister stopped and held by Reid who has been sharp here in the first period.

- Great forecheck by Sentyurin who is looking more and more comfortable each game.

- Goal Spokane. Moments later a great feed by Kenton Miller up the middle to Wahl who comes in and makes a great move on Pickard and roofs a backhand and Spokane leads 1-0. Schappert... who is having a great season just let Wahl get behind him there and Miller made a great pass to get the puck into Wahl for the breakaway. 1-0 Spokane and you could argue that Seattle doesn't deserve to be behind.

- Gal stopped by Pickard at the near post. I think Seattle has generally played well here in the first period but they have given Spokane far too many wide open chances on Pickard.

- First period comes to an end. Seattle trails 1-0 but the effort was decent. Spokane led the shots 12-8 in the period.

- Seattle moving right to left now on my computer screen.

- I don't find Spokane's P by P guy to be that bad... I have really heard worse. But I just saw Leedahl basically two handed Jacobs in the face (no call) and the announcer called it a "good check"... wow.

- and moments later Jacobs picks up a Boarding call. I should have seen that coming, Jacobs takes a shot to the mouth and gets no call and lets his frustrations get to him and picks up a penalty. The call on Jacobs is a good one, but it never happens if either Iverson or Smith makes the initial call on Leedahl... A frustrating sequence for Seattle. I guess 1 out of 2 calls isn't too bad guys... geez.

- Puck off the post as Spokane nearly takes a 2-0 lead on the PP.

- Wells and Nielsen deserve a lot of credit for how good the PK is for Seattle, they do a fantastic job.

- Save by Pickard on a BIG shot from Kichton from the point and the PP expires.

- Lund misses a pass because his stick isn't on the ice ready for it.

- GOAL SEATTLE. Mikhail Sentyurin gets his second of the season unassisted as the puck just barely got through Reid and trickled over the line at the speed of a Banana Slug. Credit to Colin Jacobs for a strong fore-check that causes the turnover by Baldwin and Sentyurin intercepts the puck and fires the shot that "beat" Reid. Frustrating goal for Reid who has been sharp so far and now Seattle has equalized.

- Dear Spokane announcer... you don't have to say "no call" every time a Chiefs player goes down and it isn't a penalty. See... this is hockey where you are allowed to forcibly dislodge someone from possession of the puck with your body. In the process of doing this, sometimes players will be forced off their skates and onto the ice. If a penalty was called every time this happened there would be 15 PP's per team per game and nobody really wants that. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. Sincerely, Some Dumb Blog Writer.

- Lockhart checks someone right into the Seattle bench and Kuhn slams into the stanchion.

- Big save by Pickard on Mitch Wahl who has been a force tonight when he hasn't been in the box. Parker picks up a slashing penalty trying to prevent Wahl from getting a good chance.

- Wahl hits the post on the PP, wow he has been dangerous tonight.

- Koper misses a chance wide open in front of the net and the Seattle kills the penalty. Not a good penalty kill from Seattle but they manage to escape without being scored on.

- Furious action here as Schappert walks the slot and fires a shot that is stopped by Spokane and kicks out creating a 3 on 2 the other direction. Credit Parker here for hustling his butt off to get back into the play or it would have been a clear 3 on 1. Koper feeds to Ulmer who puts it back to Koper who fires it off the crossbar. Pickard has been equally good and lucky here in this game.

- Hey... Wells is taken off his feet... "No Call...."

- Delay of Game penalty to Leedahl and Seattle goes on the PP with 5:40 to play in the 2nd.

- Nice drive by Rai is stopped by Reid... and Miller comes the other way and creates a scramble in front of Pickard, dangerous chance.

- Whoa... Wells almost lost it and created a chance for Spokane by is able to whack it away.

- Letts almost has a 2 on 1 for Spokane but loses the puck. This was a terrible PP for the Tbirds.

- Koper drills Lund over on the boards and a little chat room develops... no penalties.

- Bardaro has had a nice game so far and we already know he is rewarded later.

- Koper and Ramsay have a little chat at the buzzer. Koper does not want to mess with Rammer, that is a fight he can't win.

- Second period comes to a close with the score 1-1. Hockey is a funny game... I thought Seattle was better in the 1st and was down 1-0 and I thought Spokane was better in the 2nd and the Tbirds tied the game 1-1. - Really lazy pass/clearing by Dillon. I guess that was supposed to be a pass but it was horrible... He’s got to do better than that. That was worse than the play that resulted in the goal for Seattle and those plays usually wind up in the back of your own net.

- Interesting matching there as Sumner sends out the checking line and Spokane counters with the Wahl line. Aggressive move by Spokane.

- A Tbirds player with a nice hit along the boards, I couldn't get a number though quite possibly Lund or Alos.

- Wahl just undresses Dillon and gets a chance point blank on Pickard who makes the save. Horrible start to the 3rd period by Dillon.

- Fleming is crushed in the corner... he needs to be heavier on his skates.

- GOAL SEATTLE. Prab Rai with a slapper past Reid to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. I couldn't tell from the angle but it looked like Reid might have been screened on the play and Rai just hammered one past him. Also the announcer said it beat Reid glove side, but it looked more blocker side to me... tough to tell from the camera angle. Either way Seattle takes the lead 2-1.

- Another nice fore-check from Sentyurin causes a turnover.

- Jacobs with a nice turnaround shot that Reid stops.

- Ugh... chance for Nielsen, Schappert and Wells and they just couldn't get a quality shot off.

- Wow... the Spokane radio feed just missed nearly a full minute of the game. Who is in charge of those commercial breaks??

- Leedahl with a shot that directs to the right of Pickard and the net was wide open but Nielsen gets there first and skates it behind the net.

- Bit of a sloppy 3rd period but for the most part Seattle is playing better and tougher than Spokane and has earned the lead.

- Sentyurin feeds Jacobs who gets off a pretty good shot from the sharp angle and it is stopped by Reid.

- Rai with a couple of nice moves but is only able to get a soft shot on goal stopped by Reid.

- Sena flashes some nice speed and unloads a slapper that is deflected over the glass.

- Spokane Goal. Linesmen miss what looked to me like an obvious offside goal and it leads to the goal for Spokane. Bardaro who has had a really nice game, finally gets rewarded as he flips a backhand towards Pickard who isn't able to handle it and it trickles over the line and the game is tied at 2-2. I can't tell what exactly happened... whether Pickard expected it to hit someone and didn't or it actually did hit someone or whether Pickard just flat out misses it off his glove. Regardless... we're tied now with 8:54 to play in the 3rd.

- Elliott with a big hit on Mort and moments later Lund has a chance and can't quite beat Reid. Great shift by that line.

- Tbirds have been the aggressors this period.

- Pickard nearly misplays one behind his net but I wouldn't call it a "close call".

- Fans want a call on Ramsay who bumps Brassart from behind and sends him into the boards. Probably a 50/50 call there, Brassart turned his back towards Ramsay and the "check" was definitely more of a bump than anything else. Hard to believe Brassart can't stay on his skates there. With 3 minutes left I think that would have been a pretty tough call so in that sense I think the Refs got it right.

- Pickard a stop on Wahl who has really been a one man wrecking crew tonight.

- Pickard stops another Wahl shot.

- Some furious back and forth action here at the end of the game.

- Pickard another stop in front, Spokane is really putting the pressure on here in the last two minutes.

- Parker with another shot on goal that isn't particularly dangerous, I think he is trying to lead the team in SOG's.

- and we are headed to OT. Probably fitting... Seattle has played well enough that they didn't deserve to lose (backhanded compliment I know) and Spokane really hasn't played well enough to take the win from the Tbirds. Seattle was mostly better in the 3rd period with the exception of the last two minutes that felt like it took forever for Seattle to survive.

- Of note... the announcer reminds us that Seattle is 0-1 in OT this year and 0-3 in the shootout. Haha...

- Nielsen wins the faceoff clean to start the OT.

- Good defense here by Seattle so far in the extra session.

- Jacobs a good shot through traffic saved by Reid before Dillon gets a good shot on net... but no traffic in front.

- Parker with another shot on goal saved by Reid... a good tough save by Reid there as Alos crossed in front of him right before the shot.

- Ramsay with some great work on Koper in the corner. The Seattle defense her has been excellent.

- Rouse with a nice feed to Rai but it is barely poked away with 1 minute to play.

- OT WINNER SEATTLE!! Charles Wells with the overtime winner as Ramsay fed Jeremy Schappert up the wing who worked it down deep into the zone with Lockhart going to the net. Schappert puts a good low shot on Reid and the rebound kicks out into the slot where Wells is there to punch home the winner.

Big Big Big Big Big win for the TBirds in Spokane. Seattle played well enough to win and Spokane didn't and while Spokane is a better team they did not play like it last night and the Tbirds were able to steal a win on the road.

In the building the 3 stars were Wahl, Rai and Wells and I would mostly agree with that. Wahl was nearly the only player doing anything consistently for the Chiefs and was the best player on the ice. I probably would give Wells the 2nd star for the game winner and a +2 rating and the work he does on the PK and Rai was dangerous as well and had the blast that gave Seattle the 2-1 lead.

Seattle is back to work tonight at the ShoWare Center against the Swift Current Broncos before starting their 7 day winter break. I, of course, have another party tonight and will miss the game so I'll throw up a game thread and you guys can all tell me how it goes.


Tbirds bland in loss to Spokane

Spokane jumps out to a 3-0 lead last night on their way to the 3-1 victory at the ShoWare Center.

Main observations... I just thought Spokane
did a solid enough job on defense to keep Seattle from really getting very many solid chances on James Reid and while I wasn't really blown away by how Reid played he was above average/solid in the victory.

The shot totals last night were equal at 38 but that really does not tell the truth story of the game. Spokane
's fore-check was really solid for most of the night and had many more dangerous scoring chances than the Tbirds. Most of Seattle's shots came from the outside or from tough angles and with the few chances they had, they were not able to capitalize. In addition, Spokane's defense is really solid, even without team Captain Jared Cowen. They must have had at least 6-10 blocked shots and never really allowed Seattle the time and space to truly create.

's game seemed out of rhythm all night. Hard for me to explain but they often got caught on long shifts because of their inability to break the puck out of the zone, they changed at weird times, they made strange poor passes at bad times... they just seemed "off" all night. The 38 shots were very misleading.

along with Brandon, is probably the hottest team in the league right now and Seattle didn't really do anything to slow them down.

Couple of individual notes… Colin Jacobs is really struggling right now and his frustration is showing. My prediction for a breakthrough from him isn't really happening but I don't think we have any real reason for concern. I say this all the time and people tend to not want to believe it... but excelling in this league as a 16 year old is very difficult for a variety of reasons. Jacobs is going through a natural phase of struggle and I have no doubt that at some point the light will turn on for him and he will turn the corner.

Another guy struggling right now... Jonathan Parker. Only 6 points in 13 games for Parker and it really appears to me that he is trying way too hard to make things happen on his own rather than use his teammates to help set him up for scoring chances.

On the positive side... That is a Spokane
team that is going to be pretty tough come playoff time. They have experienced players and a really solid defense even without Cowen and well... you didn't get blown out by them... that's positive right?

I never get tired of pointing this out. Calvin Pickard was very good in net again last night, making at least a half dozen stops in situations where I almost assumed Spokane would score.

Story of the Week time:

As some of you know... Equipment Manager Jason Berger tried to stop a puck with his face last night on the bench. Jason is ok, but I will have a running story of the week where Jason will be providing you guys with daily updates on the status of his shiner.

Post Game:

Day 2: The morning after.


Game #35 vs. Spokane Game Thread

I probably won't write anything until tomorrow morning... so everyone can use this to fire off their comments.


Haber to Red Deer

Minor trade this morning sees Seattle send Brad Haber to Red Deer for a conditional 7th round selection in the draft next year.

Haber, 19, was clearly not going to be a part of the plans for next season. Hopefully this will give him an opportunity with the Rebels to earn some additional playing time.

The condition on the draft pick is probably that he sticks around in Red Deer for the rest of the season.

Press release is here.


Pickard Owns You

Sorry Tri-City but Calvin Pickard owns you... yeah he does.

Really nice win for Seattle last night at the Sho over one of the top teams in the Western Hockey League and once again it was Calvin Pickard who led the way.

I'm not quite so sure that the 55 shots were 100% accurate but I will say this.. The Americans love to just put the puck on net. Don't get me wrong, they had plenty of good scoring chances but they also had a large handful of shots that were basically just thrown on net or slapped on net that Pickard handled easily and held for a whistle. On a night where a goaltender is off his game and is coughing up rebounds that might have worked but on this night, that strategy never really had a chance.

The Ams did have several good chances as well with Pickard committing full scale grand larceny on several occasions. It sure is fun to watch this kid play when he is on his game.

Some other notes from the game.

- Spirited effort my Mikhail Sentyurin and though I really don't care too much about the 3 stars in the building I thought he was robbed not getting a star. Not only does he pick up his first goal of the season and his career ("Noooo channnce goalkeeeeeeper!!!) that hit off either his leg or hip or something before flipping into the net but I thought he was really good all over the ice and he earned the added playing time he saw tongiht. He checked, he flashed some really nice hands, and he really hustled on the fore-check. I loved what I saw out of him tonight and hopefully we see a lot more of it.

- Charles Wells was a beast last night... another guy who got robbed on the stars. Dare I say it, but I think Wells might have taken his speed to the next level... the Prab Rai level. Wells was a flash last night using his speed on numerous chances to just go right around American defenders. He set up Rai on a beautiful cross-ice pass on the PP to give Seattle the 2-1 lead and best of all he was a monster on the penalty kill. If you look strictly at points and plus/minus yeah Schappert and Alos were deserving of stars but I would have given them to Pickard, Sentyurin and Wells.

- Speaking of Schappert... great again tonight with 3 assists and a +2. I don't really agree with the notion that Schappert would bring you back something in a trade. I think he is type of player right now who is worth more to the team playing out the season than whatever small piece you might get back in a trade. Trading 20s in this league is tough and most teams have their 20s set early in the season and unless you are trading for a clear upgrade, you just aren't going to get much back.

- Nice to see Scott "Rammer" Ramsay get a goal. He was +3 as well.

- Jonathan Parker was +4... really? hmmm that one snuck up on me.

- Also nice to see Tyler Alos pick up a goal and an assist. His goal came with the game somewhat decided but I think Seattle may have something with him.

- 2 fights? in one game? at the same time?? Crazy how much the crowd/fans loved that. Anyone at the WHL paying attention? Fighting down, attendance down. I know there are several other really good reasons why attendance is down across the league but taking the fighting out of the game is one that I believe gets overlooked. The casual fan comes to see a couple of fights each game and fighting serves a purpose within the context of the game (some or most of the time, maybe not all of the time) why are we trying to snuff fighting out of hockey?

- Umm... are we calling him Brendan "Roooos" now? I'm confused.

- Prab Rai... ho hum... another 2 points. Yawn... Remember when people were worried about his slow start? He only has 20 points in his last 10 games. I feel so vindicated.

With the win, the Tbirds move up to 12-17-4 good for 28 points and they gained at least one point on all of the teams they are chasing, Everett lost in the SO to Prince George at home (yikes), Kamloops lost in Vancouver, Chilliwack took a beating from Spokane at home and Kelowna lost in Brandon. Tbirds are now just 2 points out of the 8th spot in the West and roughly 7 points back of the 6th spot. Seattle hits the road again tonight but only travels a short distance up the road to Everett to face the Silvertips at the "Cable Box". If you are curious... no I won't be there I have a holiday party to attend but I wouldn't have wanted to tempt the curse anyway.


Trade Deadline Information

So... there are 31 days until the WHL trade deadline.

I should probably write something about where the Tbirds are at and where some other teams in the league might be... well forget that...

Find everything you want to know over at Alan Caldwell's blog right here. That guy is money...

Chaffin Retires

The worst kept secret around the arena lately has sadly come true. Tbirds announce the retirement of Steve Chaffin this morning after suffering a number of concussions.

This is truly a bittersweet moment for myself and for all Tbirds fans. I feel for Steve and I know the difficulty that comes with the end of an athletes career. On the positive side, Chaffin can now focus his efforts on going to school and getting his education and live a long healthy life without worrying about the dangers that are associated with severe head injuries.

I wish Steve the best of luck and we wish him well in his future endeavors.

Press Release can be found here.

EDIT: Tbirds website link is not currently working so I am going to directly cut and paste here.


Chaffin will take full advantage of WHL Scholarship

Kent, December 10, 2009 - Seattle Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell today announced that defenseman Steve Chaffin has retired from hockey.

"After consulting with team doctors, my family and the T-Birds, I have decided to retire from hockey," said Chaffin. "I have enjoyed my three years with the T- Birds but after suffering multiple concussions I have decided not to risk further injury."

"Steve was a valuable member of our team and will be missed," said Farwell. "But this decision is in his long term best interest and we support his decision and wish him well."

"Steve will take the rest of this year to determine his field of interest and will move on to make use of the WHL Scholarship," continued Farwell. "This is the purpose of our scholarship program and we expect Steve to make full use of this benefit."

The T-Birds take on the Tri-City Americans on Friday, December 11, at 7:35 p.m. at ShoWare Center.

T-Birds single game tickets for the 2009-10 season are available online at the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare Center box office. The ShoWare Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday game days at 10 a.m. and Sunday game days at noon.

T-Birds Group tickets are currently on sale. Group tickets can be purchased by calling the T-Birds office at 253-239-7825.


Please buy tickets TOMORROW

Most of you probably already know this but I think it deserves as much publicity as it can possibly get.

In honor of the fallen Lakewood Police officers the Tbirds are going to donate 100% of the ticket sales for the game on Friday against the Tri-City Americans TOMORROW between 9am and 9pm to the Police Independent Guild.

If you are planning on buying tickets for the Friday game... wait until tomorrow at 9am.

If you have friends who are thinking about buying tickets and going to the game... tell them to buy tickets tomorrow at 9am.

I'm really surprised that the team is doing this and I think it is a really nice gesture on their part.

So buy tickets TOMORROW for the game Friday between 9am and 9pm. The full story is here.


Sweet victory!!!

Seattle beats Everett tonight 3-2 as I finish the night with a little "Youngblood"....

Tbirds with an overall "good effort" tonight... I didn't think it was an awesome effort but it wasn't a bad effort either. The first period was excellent and it was enough to carry the result of the game. Seattle was very good on the PP tonight scoring twice in six chances and being dangerous on nearly 5 of them.

The win gets Seattle to within 3 points of the 8th place Chilliwack Bruins and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

A nice night by Prab Rai who nets 2 goals in win... and Charles Wells picks up two assists on a night where he was dangerous on numerous chances with the puck. Captain Lindsay Nielsen also has 2 assists on the night and now has 6 points in his past 3 games.'

Seattle now is exactly 4 games through their 8 game steak of game against the U.S. Division and return to action next Friday against the Tri-City Americans.


At Spokane Game Thread

I won't be able to get to a computer to give a running, live game updates... So I'm going to throw up a game thread here for comments as the game goes on and/or after.


Trade coming...

Tbirds have announced on Facebook that they are making an announcement. If you thought that sounded funny... you aren't alone.

Stay tuned...

UPDATE - Erik Bonsor is the guy, Seattle gets him from Calgary for a 6th round bantam selection. Bonsor is an 18 year old defenseman and will help fill the void Seattle has on the blue line right now with Steve Chaffin still listed as being out indefinitely with a concussion.

I can't say that I know much about Bonsor... he had a nice rookie year in 08-09 logging 2 goals, 9 assists a +13 rating and 20 PIMs in 51 games with the Hitmen.

No reason to think Bonsor will not be able join the Tbirds this week and be ready to play when they travel to Spokane this weekend.

Sorry... link here.

No WJC invite for Pickard

This isn't really too much of a shock and only one WHL goalie was invited and it was Martin Jones of Calgary. I did think there was an outside chance that Pickard would be invited and I don't think it would be a stretch to think it was down to Jones or Pickard and they went with Jones given he is a 19 year old.

Quite an impressive list for Team Canada with 14 NHL 1st round picks. Only 10 players from the WHL were invited and only two players from the '92 year were given the coveted invitation.

The full list can be fonud here.

WHL Scoreboard