Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail


Hockey Challenge 2014

Recent Articles


Fire in the Engine Room

Right now... this team just doesn't compel me to write. Tuesday night the effort was good for 2 periods but after falling behind the Tbirds showed little in the decisive 3rd period leading to a 2-0 loss in front of a sellout crowd at ShoWare.

Last night was obviously a lot worse with the Birds dropping an 8-2 decision to Chiefs in Spokane.

I want to be careful not to freak out too much about just two losses but the product that I'm seeing on the ice would suggest that this team might be in trouble.

Former "Bird Brain" blogger Mike Caccioppoli who now "blogs" for ESPN 710 believes that Russ Farwell "...needs to find a way to make the team better at both ends of the ice. A sniper, a solid defenseman, whatever it takes. If it means out bidding other teams, so be it. If it means giving future draft picks, then do it."

Really? This is the season? This is the team you want to sell the future for? Sorry... I'm voting against doing that. This would be a very poor year to try selling the farm to make a deep run in the playoffs when it appears likely that you are no better than 4th in the ultra-competitive U.S. Division.

This team lacks skill. While improved from last season this team is still not a team that I could envision making a run at a WHL Championship even WITH a top notch sniper and another defensemen.

Did anyone see the price that Portland just paid for Craig Cunningham?

Do you want to see the Thunderbirds trade Lockhart, Rouse, TWO 1st round bantam selections and a 2nd rounder AT LEAST for a guy like Jordan Weal? and pay a similar price for a top defensemen just to "take a shot" with a team that just got outscored 10-2 by Spokane in the last two games? Who knows if that would even be enough to land those players. With the price being paid by Tri-City and Portland in the last two big deals... it's a seller's market.

"Going for it" is always going to be a calculated risk and unfortunately for Seattle fans we haven't had too many seasons where it really truly felt like the Tbirds should go for it. This isn't the season to do it. The season to "go for it" has always been Pickard's 19 year old season.

Mortgaging your future for a playoff run has a time and place... but it's a gamble you better be pretty sure about or you're going to pretty quickly find yourself in a Portland type of situation where you are going to be bad for 2-3 straight seasons and you risk destroying your fan base.


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone....

Just a quick update this morning thanks to our friend Gregg Drinnan who reports that Thunderbird Dave Sutter will not be a part of team Switzerland at the World Junior Championships. Sutter will presumably head back to Seattle with the rest of the team at some point this weekend and be ready to play on Tuesday.


Holiday Break

Quick update...

Seattle wrapped up the unofficial midpoint of the season with a well deserved 4-2 victory over Portland last Saturday at ShoWare Center. The action was impressive for Seattle who consistently showed the most energy in the game and came away with the deserved 2 points.

Calvin Pickard made 50 saves on 52 shots and while I would never say that 50 saves is easy... it was as easy as you are going to get for 52 shots. The Tbirds were able to keep a majority of the shots to the outside and Pickard seemed to have little trouble locating shooters and maintaining vision.

Brenden Dillon registered 4 assists, a career high in both assists and points to lead the Seattle offense. Dillon has now already doubled his career high in points and it is becoming harder each day to imagine how he won't get signed to a free agent professional contract.

Burke Gallimore had a goal and an assist, which included a beautifully threaded wrist shot to the upper corner on the Power Play that essentially sealed the game by giving Seattle the 4-1 lead with 16 minutes to play in the game.

Colin Jacobs also continued his recent strong play by notching a goal and an assist. Jacobs has now surpassed his career highs in goals and points from last season and is on pace for 32 goals and 61 points.

Jacobs was also named to the CHL Top Prospects game and will represent Team Orr on January 18th and 19th at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Seattle is back in action next Tuesday at home against Spokane.

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Enjoy a few more days without hockey and get ready for what should be an interesting and exciting 3.5 months to the end of the season and the start of the playoffs.


Great bounceback win...

A wonderful bounce back win for the Birds last night coming from 3-0 down to force overtime before Travis Toomey potted the big GWG with under a minute left.

This type of win proves to me that this team has some character. Having been blown up the night before and falling behind 3-0 on the road to the same team would have given most teams plenty of reason to fold up the tent for the night.

A lot of frustrated comments in the previous game thread and that is totally understandable and to be expected. I share in the frustration of the fans even if I don't always agree with each opinion 100%.

Things aren't perfect, they aren't really even very good... but no matter how poorly the team has played lately the victory last night was an impressive bounce back win. Now the trick is to see if Seattle can actually use Tuesday as the low point of the season and try to build some momentum.

For those of you wanting to see Baecker and/or Frank... well I imagine you'll get to see at least one of them Saturday with Sutter away at the Swiss WJC camp.


Pickard Cut

In what I would consider a slight upset, Calvin Pickard was cut this morning from the Team Canada Camp. This is of course glorious news for the Tbirds and obviously disappointing news for Pickard.

Pickard will be eligible again next year as a 19 year old and you would have to think he would be a near lock to make it next year unless something weird happens in the next 11.5 months.

This development is especially surprising considering this quote from the Canadian Press from the last camp game last night... "None of the four goaltenders has leapt up and grabbed the starting job in camp. The favourites going in were Calvin Pickard, who has been perhaps the best in camp, and Mark Visintin, who has struggled. Olivier Roy and J.P. Anderson are also in the running."

I don't want to hear any crying from my buddies in Canada if they lose the Gold Medal this year and the cause is goaltending.

Final roster can be found here.


Absolute Garbage - Open Thread

Long story short... I stayed home tonight to take care of my wife, who is recovering from surgery (she's doing great, thanks for asking) so I had to watch this one from the comfort of my recliner.

What a stinker... I have no idea what is wrong with this team but if Rob Sumner doesn't figure it out pretty quickly this season is going to slip away.

Open thread folks... you tell me what you thought about what you saw tonight?


Rough Weekend

Rough weekend for the Tbirds as they drop two games to the Tri-City Americans. Some notes on the weekend.

- I wasn't able to catch the game in Tri on Friday night, though I suspect it looked a lot like the game Saturday night at ShoWare. Seattle just looks tired and/or lazy right now. I'll try to relate this as best I can as someone who plays a little bit of hockey. Some nights you just can't get your feet moving. Your brain tells you to skate hard but your feet and energy level just don't seem to have the ability to get things moving. That is what Seattle looks like right now. A team full of guys who, for whatever reason, just can't get their feet moving right now. I'm not sure if they are tired, lazy or most likely a combination of both... they just simply look slow right now.

- This "tired" is showing most obviously in two aspects. Shots and penalties. Friday night they were out-shot 48-23 and 20-3 in the 3rd period. They also gave up 10 PP chances with the Americans cashing in on 2 of them. Saturday night the shot total was a little bit better, ending the game at 33-26 but that doesn't really tell the true story of the game as Seattle was out-shot 19-7 in the decisive 1st period that saw Tri-City jump out to the 4-0 lead. In addition... they took another 10 minor penalties that resulted in PP chances for the Americans (scoring twice again). The officiating in Saturday's game was not good, Matt Kirk is supposed to be one of the best in the WHL but Saturday was an off night for him to put it mildly. However, the problem is... Seattle isn't really giving officials very many chances to give them the benefit of the doubt when they aren't moving their feet. In summary... Officiating was bad but so was the Seattle effort and I'm far more concerned about the effort than the officiating.

- On paper it looks like Michael Salmon struggled on Saturday night in his first game filling in while Calvin Pickard is away at camp for Team Canada but that doesn't really tell the story. Of the 4 goals I saw (I bailed after the 2nd period, it was too gross to watch) I would only categorize the 4th goal as being "soft" and even that shot came through a partial screen and just squeezed through the 6 hole (between the arm) of Salmon. Salmon has improved so much since the first time I saw him play down in Portland last season that he should be commended. I think with some regular playing time here while Pickard is away and you're going to see some nice performances.

- It's official. Dave Sutter has become the new fan whipping boy... but in all honesty I don't really understand why. Sutter was terrible on Saturday night, there is no excusing that, but let's call a spade a spade. We knew all along that Sutter would likely be a project and overall he is still a +4 while logging some pretty significant ice time. Is he good yet? No. But the key word there is "yet". Did fans expect Sutter to come in and immediately become Scott Jackson... er... maybe that' a bad example since he is a former fan whipping boy himself. Fans probably need to adjust their expectations for the big Swiss defender. I'll make a deal with you guys. If he is still having trouble at this time next season, he'll deserve the wrath and I won't defend him. For now... let's give him time to develop before we start dumping on the kid.

- I was asked by a fan via email about the trade that Tri-City completed on Friday, picking up Carter Ashton from Lethbridge in exchange for Nils Moser, Tanner Olstad and 1st, 2nd and 5th round bantam selections. Every season I'm asked about whether Seattle will make a big splash in the trade market and most seasons the fans are disappointed with the "smaller" moves that are made by General Manager Russ Farwell. Well, if you are disappointed by "smaller" moves I think you're going to be disappointed again this season. Even though you would probably never get Farwell to admit this, they are likely playing for next season and any moves getting made this season will be made without having any large impact on next season's roster. The biggest move I could see them making might be a move of a 19 year old. So why would they move a 19 when I just said they wouldn't make a trade that would impact next season? Because with four 19 year old players on the roster they could trade a 19 year old and get back an 18 year old they like for next season and not completely disrupt the roster.

One thing is for sure though... they are most certainly NOT punting this season away. I think everyone in the organization believes that it is very important from a progress and morale standpoint to make the playoffs this season. If you fancy yourself a contender next season, you would prefer the first playoff game of the 2012 playoffs not be the first for most of the kids on your roster.

- Speaking of playoffs. Seattle currently sits in 7th position in the Western Conference but they are only 1 point out of the basement. The race for the playoffs in the West has likely never been tighter than it is this season.

- Quick Massey Ratings check again. Seattle sits in 13th overall. Offense 18th, Defense 6th. Home-Ice Advantage is 21st, which surprises no one with the way they have played at home vs. the road lately. Things should theoretically get a tad easier as they have played the #1 toughest schedule in the league. Massey Ratings


Mercer Arena

For those of you who don't go back to the days when Seattle played at Mercer Arena. I stumbled across this cool photo. This is a picture from when the Seattle Eskimos played in the PCHL. Full credit to the Seattle Times.


Another Home Loss

I'm not going to spend a thousand words writing about the game last night when Seattle has to turn around and play in Kelowna tonight and have two more games in Prince George over the weekend but I will add a few thoughts.

Seattle is playing horribly right now. Why? I don't really know why, but they are horrible. Medicine Hat made them look like a Junior A team at times last night skating circles around them. The Tbirds looked slow, tired and frustrated. Maybe they need a mental break? Or a physical break? I have no idea but something has to change. Seattle was once again lucky to head into the 3rd period down only 1-0.

I was going to list the individual players who I thought had particularly bad games but then realized that I was listing pretty much half the team. The bottom line is that Seattle after 25 games the Win-Loss record is better but the team doesn't look that much different from last season. Too many mistakes, too many shots given up and too many missed opportunities. With their goal differential at 71 GF and 71 GA this team looks no better than a .500 team going forward until they start playing better.

Seattle was 0-5 on the PP and 1-4 on the PK and strangely that was probably the least of their problems.


New Sponsor

You might notice down on the lower left hand side of the "widgets" that I have added another sponsor to the webpage. Generally speaking I'm not a very big fan of advertisements and I am generally skeptical of "poker" ads... but Poker Junkie is a pretty legitimate website for information and message boards related to Poker. So if you're a big fan of poker... run over there and check them out.


World Junior Roster impact

The World Junior Camp invites were announced today for Team Canada and not surprisingly Calvin Pickard has been invited. It would be a complete shock to me if he didn't make the team and I think if Canada knows what is good for them Pickard will be the starter. The competition is stiff though... Olivier Roy is a 19 year old goaltender from Acadie-Bathurst in the Q and he will be the veteran of the invited group. Roy was selected in the 5th round by Edmonton back in 2009. Mark Visentin would appear to be the best competition for Pickard. Visentin was the 2nd goaltender selected in the 2010 draft (behind American Jack Campbell) and before Pickard. Visentin was selected 27th overall by Phoenix. The third invite is JP Anderson. I don't really know much about Anderson, he was undrafted this summer but was then signed by San Jose and he is having a very strong season for Mississauga of the OHL.

My best guess is that Roy will make the team and Picard will need to beat out Visentin for the other spot.

As far as the impact on the Tbirds... the impact might be huge. Pickard will be off to tryout camp from the 10th of December to the 16th and will miss 4 games during that time. If Pickard makes the team and doesn't return before the end of the tournament he will miss 10 games. For those that want to see Michael Salmon, get ready to see a bunch of him.

Also invited to tryout camps were Dave Sutter (Switzerland) and Marcel Noebels (Germany). I'm honestly not very familiar with the teams for either of those countries, so I don't know whether either will make it. My guess is that Noebels probably has a very good chance and Sutter has a decent chance. Camp Germany begins on the 18th. Both Sutter and Noebels will miss between 4-9 games and that will all depend on whether they make their teams and how far they go in the tournament.


Nice Win, Ugly Loss

A really nice road win in Everett Friday night was followed by a really ugly loss last night to the Kootenay Ice. Seattle hasn't played too many games like the one they did last night. I think you could safely argue that they have been pretty competitive in every single game until the one last night.

Some thoughts...

- Friday night in Everett they won because I didn't go to the game (of course). I still haven't seen a win in Everett and as long as the Tbirds keep winning up there while I'm not at the game I will happily stay away and pay the $7 for the crappy online video feed.

- Friday night was also a pretty solid effort in all phases of the game. They were able to get the puck on net, get some timely goals to open each one of the periods and they were solid defensively, only allowing a pretty backdoor Power Play goal by Ryan Murray.

- Last night was a bit of the complete opposite. Seattle lost the battles in front of the net and allowed the once league worst Ice Power Play to win battles in front of Calvin Pickard and convert on 3 of 3 chances. In terms of technique, Seattle was getting caught behind the Ice forwards instead of getting in front to block or on the side to lift sticks, etc.

- Quick word on fan behavior. I have a fan that sits near me, I know him... he plays hockey against me occasionally. I don't have a problem with this guy, we're friendly, etc. So I hope he doesn't read this and become offended. This particular fan has made it quite obvious over the years that he hates Coach Rob Sumner. He obviously thinks Sumner is a bad coach and from time to time attempts to let Sumner know about his displeasure during games. Last night after Calvin Pickard was pulled in favor of Michael Salmon this fan proceeded to yell at Sumner sarcastically for pulling Pickard "Yeah Sumner, it's Pickards fault, pull Pickard, that's the answer!" This yelling proceeded to continue for a good couple of minutes until a few fans started telling this fan to shut up. Angry fan didn't like this and proceeded to tell said fans that "if they played hockey they could tell him what to do". Fine... not a problem. Quite frankly I don't really care what fans do... yell all you want, you paid for your ticket. But.... if you're going to yell and tell everyone how smart your hockey knowledge is... you had BETTER be right. And in this case, angry fan is completely wrong. Sumner didn't pull Pickard last night because it was "his fault" that Seattle was down 5-1... you pull your starting goaltender out of there so that he doesn't have to keep getting punished when the team in front of him isn't playing well. You hate Sumner... I get it... but if you're going to yell and scream and tell everyone how smart your hockey knowledge is, you should try to be correct.

- Speaking of Pickard. Obviously a tough night for him and it's really too bad that it had to come on his Bobblehead night. The 5th and final goal was a bit of a soft one but the others were certainly not his fault. What you have to love and appreciate about Pickard is how much he cares. You could see the anger and disappointment on his face as he sat on the bench. Part of what makes Calvin so great is that you know how much he cares, you know how much he loves to compete, you know how much it burns at him to have a game like that. It doesn't matter if it happened on Bobblehead night, he probably doesn't care about that. He's mad because he cares deeply about winning and about his team and that's exactly why you don't see him have very many nights like last night. It's exactly why I would expect him to bounce back strong on Tuesday.

- I was absolutely utterly shocked we didn't see multiple fights last night. I could easily be wrong but it just didn't seem like Kootenay wanted to drop the gloves. They were chippy... there was multiple "chat rooms" but no fights. Doty tried to get into a few scraps and wound up getting a double minor for roughing that led to two Ice goals. You take the good with the bad with Doty. We can't all hope for Doty to fight all the time and then be upset when he picks up the occasional penalty that hurts the team... it comes with the territory and for the most part Doty has been excellent.

- I always listen to the post-game show to hear what Sumner and the Seattle "star of the game" has to say. Most of the time you don't really get anything of substance but occasionally you get some gems. What I love most is when players are honest. Last night Charles Wells was honest. Paraphrasing... he said the team played like crap and he wasn't really sure why he even deserved a "star". Good on him... I need more players being honest and less "canned" answers.

- The lone bright spots... nice snipes out of Lockhart and Bobbee to bookend the scoring.

- Seattle has slipped to 2nd on the PP and 13th on the PK. Seattle's goal differential would suggest that this team might regress back towards .500. Let's hope that isn't the case.


Morning After

Sigh... I had to sleep on that loss last night before I was able to write anything. Needless to say it was a very disappointing loss and it's one of those games where you just aren't going to feel better by saying "well we still earned a point". You didn't really earn a point so much as you threw away 1 point and gave 2 to a divisional opponent... that's a 3 point swing.

As mad, upset and frustrated as I was last night my cooler head has prevailed and realized that it IS only one game. It was a tough loss but hockey, like most sports, is a marathon and not a sprint. One game does not define a team, but it might tell us something about them.

What does it tell me? It tells me that this team is still pretty young and quite frankly hasn't enjoyed a lot of success in the last two seasons and they are probably still trying to learn how to win. Remember last season when Portland took the "league by storm" and surprised the league after 3 horrible seasons? They wound up with 91 points and a winning percentage of .632. With a winning percentage of .614 Seattle isn't very far behind what that "surprise" Portland team did last season.

My point isn't to argue that Seattle is "just as good" as last year's Portland team... but merely to illustrate that teams on the rise typically don't rocket straight to the top. This team is still learning how to win and they just aren't there yet. Teams that are "winners" don't lose games like last night... they find a way to hold on down the stretch and they get the job done. This team hasn't learned how to do that yet. They have to go through games like this in order to figure out what NOT to do. Call it... growing pains.

- Burke Gallimore missed in the shootout going high glove side and just missing over the bar and off the glass. Gallimore has a tremendous shot and has converted on a couple of those... but I've seen way too many misses. Time to mix in a deke somewhere or start cashing in on 3 out of 4 of those shots.

- Way too many shots against. Seattle just can't give up 59 shots and expect to win. I always feel like the shot clock at ShoWare center favors our superstar goaltender, so I'm not certain that 59 shots is accurate... but either way there was a lot of shots. Way too many shots. The Americans are the same team that put 58 shots on Pickard in his epic 58 save shutout last season so the 50+ total isn't a fluke.

- The bright spot? Colin Jacobs. For most of last season and this season I have felt like Jacobs has tried way too hard to be the star that everyone thinks he can be. At times his forced play was detrimental to himself and the team. He forced the action, tried to dangle around multiple defenders and has been pushed into being a Quarterback of the PP despite looking uncomfortable doing it. I'm hoping that last night was a turning point for Colin and his career. He picked up two "garbage" goals by hanging around the net in good places and played a solid team game to go along with his usual hustle. I was very impressed with his game last night. Hopefully, this is one of those games where a player "clicks" with what it takes to be successful.

- The nightly chants of... "Doooooty, Doooooty..." keep getting louder each game.

- Quick note on the Checking From Behind penalty that Dillon got last night with 30 seconds to play in Overtime. I know the league is trying to crack down on these "types" of hits and I think that is absolutely the right thing to do. Players have been taking too many liberties with defenseless players and one of these days a player is going to get seriously hurt and we can't have that. Dillon's check was not one of those hits. From my vantage it looked like the offensive player saw Dillon coming and turned his back at the last minute to protect the puck. Referee Steve Papp even appeared to see the hit, think about it, remember that the league is trying to crack down and then raised his arm. It's a tough call and I'm not saying this to criticize Papp. I'm just not sure we should be allowing players to turn their back on the check knowing that they will either protect the puck or draw a penalty.

- Noebels was back with Lockhart last night. I kind of called that one didn't I?

Last but not least. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. It certainly has been an interesting year in the life of this blog but we're still going strong and I want to thank all Tbird and WHL fans for sticking with me.

Seattle gets back to work tomorrow night in Everett before returning back home for Calvin Pickard Bobblehead Night on Saturday against Kootenay.



Seattle takes on Tri-City tonight at ShoWare Center. It's been a bit of a hectic week with the snow, ice and cold. I should be getting back to regular updates here pretty soon.

Seattle picked up 2 out of 4 possible points last weekend and they were probably lucky to have survived the weekend with any points at all.

I honestly didn't think their play on Friday night against Spokane was really that bad... but maybe that is a testament to how much this team has elevated their level of play and their expectations. What once might have been a "not so bad" effort last season is a poor effort this season. If that is true... then the action Saturday was horrible. Missed assignments and lack of defensive zone coverage led to three Everett goals in the first 13 minutes of the game and the Tbirds were never able to fully recover.

The Western Conference is unbelievably tight with just 2 points separating 3rd and 10th place and only 5 points between 2nd and 10th. Seattle still owns the 2nd best winning percentage in the Conference but they don't have any margin for error and that appears likely to be true throughout the entire season.

Some individual notes.

- How fun is Justin Hickman?? 3 bone crushing (and clean I might add) hits in the game on Saturday. When he plays the game the right way he sure is fun to watch. As he gets a little bit more playing time it will be interesting to see if he can add some scoring to his physical game.

- I thought the lines were all screwed up this past weekend. I wouldn't be surprised to see some new combinations tonight. I don't like Noebels with Jacobs and Alos.. that line just doesn't seem to work well. I like Noebels playing with Lockhart a lot more.

- The defense had a tough weekend and needs to improve the defensive zone coverage. The "big" mistakes have been kept to a minimum for most of the season but they are starting to creep in just a little bit in the last couple of weeks.

- To sound completely repetitive, Seattle needs to start doing some scoring on the 5 on 5. They can't really expect their PP to carry them for an entire season.

- Teams are appearing to be less and less willing to fight Jacob Doty. I'm going to bet that if he doesn't dance tonight or Friday that he'll find someone to tango with from Kootenay on Saturday.

- Erik Fleming got beat around the outside and then knocked off the puck during a sequence in Saturday's game... and I don't believe he saw the ice after that.

- I heard one fan Saturday yell at Sumner to "play all 4 lines/play the whole team". This isn't Squirts... its Major Junior hockey. When you play on the 4th line you don't always regularly get ice time. If you want to make the argument that some players aren't seeing the ice enough I suppose I will understand that.. but we're trying to win games and sometimes that means leaning more heavily on your top guys.


Massey Ratings Update

Quick Massey Ratings update before Seattle starts their 3 game homestand tomorrow.

Overall - 9th
Power Rating - 5th
Offense - 16th
Defense - 3rd
Home Ice "Advantage" - 10th*
Strength of Schedule to date - 2nd
Strength of Schedule future - 1st

U.S. Division is still ranked as the toughest division.

*Home Ice Advantage is just a measure of the difference in the team's play between the home games and the road games. 10th basically means the Tbirds don't play very different on the road than they do at home.

Rankings can be found here.


Central Scouting Fall Release

The Fall edition of the NHL Central Scouting report is out.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels leads the list of "players to watch" in the WHL. Followed by Sven Baertschi and Ty Rattie of Portland.

Colin Jacobs checks in for Seattle at #10 and Luke Lockhart and Marcel Noebels follow him at #12 and #13.

Portland has 4 of the top 9 players on the list after having all of those drafted players last year. You can't really say enough about how well they have scouted and recruited to their team. High draft picks are obviously important and in theory make things easier... but it only matters if you cash in and draft the right players and clearly they have.

One final interesting note. The rankings for the USHL include Seattle listed player Seth Ambroz at #3. It will be interesting to see whether Ambroz will continue on his path to Minnesota or whether he might possibly join the Tbirds next season.


3rd Straight Swing Win for Tbirds

Tbirds pick up their 3rd straight Eastern Swing win in thrilling fashion tonight behind another 3 Power Play goals.

Seattle erased a 4-1 Regina lead by scoring the game's final 4 goals, capped by Charles Wells' 5th of the season with just over 5 minutes to play.

Ironman Calvin Pickard comes through once again with 38 big saves in the victory.

Colin Jacobs forged the tie getting his 7th and 8th goals of the season, both on the Power Play, knotting the game at 4 before the GWG by Wells. Brenden Dillon also added 3 assists and now has 16 points in 18 games.

Tbird fans... it's time to mark the occasion. With their 3/4 effort on the PP tonight, Seattle is now 23/77 with the man advantage... good for 29.9% and FIRST IN THE WHL. When is the last time we were able to say that?

Interesting that Seattle is also 1st in Power Play conversion while enjoying the fewest PP chances in the league (I didn't bother to calculate the per game rate).

With the victory, Seattle now sits in the 3rd position in the Western Conference and enjoys the 2nd best record in the West.

Seattle wraps up their very successful Eastern Swing tomorrow night in Swift Current against the 11-11 Broncos.



Jacob Doty has stitches over his nose and a shiner over one eye and he just fought a 6'4", 228 lb Austin Connor.

I love this kid.

He's either crazy or awesome or both. I vote both.


Hockey Challenge 2011

As if you didn't notice... I wanted to draw your attention to the banner above that has a direct link to the donation page for the Ronald McDonald House.

I will be playing for the IEB team this year (which is just the new name of the E&D Division at Microsoft).

I won't spend a ton of time begging right now... but as the Challenge gets closer I will be shamelessly asking for donations on my behalf.


Results Based Analysis Is Dumb

If you didn't attend Seattle's 4-1 victory over a very good Red Deer Rebels team last night at the ShoWare Center you might have looked at the box score and believed that it was a pretty good, quality win for the Tbirds. However, that's why we must combine what we see with our own two eyes with what happens on the stat sheet. The victory last night probably won't go down as the blue print that coach Rob Sumner is looking for in a typical win but they won't argue with the results. The quality of the Tbirds play wasn't nearly as good as the final result would have indicated. Am I being too tough on this team? Maybe… but I don't think this is a crappy team that is just trying to hang on. I believe this team can be pretty good they just need to learn how to bring it each and every single night.

Notes from last night.

  • Calvin Pickard was outstanding once again stopping 46 of 47 shots. His most important work came in the 1st 35 minutes of the game as he stopped all 18 shots he faced in the 1st period and another 15 in the 2nd period when Red Deer swarmed the Seattle net. Seattle found itself in early penalty trouble and thanks in large part to Pickard the Rebels weren't able to cash in on the PP until late in the 3rd period on their 6th and final opportunity. Seattle simply can't continue giving up 40+ shots per game and expect the wins to keep coming. Earlier in the season Seattle was able to keep a lot of the shots to the outside and less dangerous areas… but last night the shots were dangerous and Pickard managed to keep the puck out of the net. The Tbirds are doing a decent job of getting the puck cleared after initial shots but the chances are far too dangerous right now.
  • I hate complaining about officiating… but wow that was a poorly officiated game. Simple horrible on so many levels. The worst of them being the last two calls. The USC diving call on Colin Jacobs was absolutely ridiculous and Dave Sutter getting an extra roughing penalty for the scrap with Daulton Siwak. The result of which was a Matt Dumba Power Play goal breaking the shutout bid at 13:17. I can't honestly come up with a reason why Sutter got the extra 2 minutes and it wound up costing Pickard the shutout.
  • Speaking of Dumba. The 4th overall selection in the 2009 Bantam draft already looks very polished as a 16 year old. He quarterbacked one of the 2 Red Deer PP units and his goal was a well placed blast that beat Pickard on the PP. Kind of reminded me of a right handed Thomas Hickey.
  • Nobody wants to fight Jacob Doty. I'm thinking he might have trouble getting to 50 fights.
  • Gallimore with another solid night getting the PP goal that he neatly tucked into the corner with a wrist shot after receiving a nice feed from Marcel Noebels and adding a nice individual effort that barely caught 16 year old Rebels goaltender Bolton Pouliot leaning and beat him under the blocker.
  • Give Rebels captain Colin Archer credit for continuing to get pummeled by Mitch Elliot but continuing to stand up and hang in there until finally the fight was called on fatigue. Elliot must have thrown a near 20 punches and did not take kindly to Archer getting in a couple of shots with the referee between them. The flying punches knocked Archer to the ice two different times… both times he got right back to his feet and continued to take what Elliot had for him.
  • I can't really exaggerate how overwhelmed Seattle was for the first 35 minute of the game… but they were able to weather the storm and once they got the Power Play goal from Gallimore they appeared to get things going a little bit from that point forward.

Seattle hits the road for their next 6 games beginning with Brandon on Saturday. The good news for Seattle is that they will wind up spending less than 2 weeks on the road. The bad news is… that means they will wind up cramming 6 games into 8 days. Quite the stretch. Expect to see Michael Salmon get his first game action at some point during the trip. My best guess for the goalie rotation:

Saturday, Brandon – Pickard

Sunday, Moose Jaw – Pickard

Tuesday, Saskatoon – Pickard

Wednesday, Prince Albert – Salmon

Friday, Regina – Pickard

Saturday, Swift Current – Pickard

At least… that's how I would do it if I were coach… as usual… what the hell do I know.


Old Habits Die Hard

A 2-0 loss Friday night to Prince George and a 3-2 overtime loss in Kamloops left the Tbirds with only 1 point out of 2 games this weekend. Seattle is falling back into some of the habits that got them into trouble last season and the results don't lie.

Last season, Seattle leaned heavily on Calvin Pickard and at different times struggled with effort and sharp focus.

Friday night was about lack of focus. The play was sloppy and though Seattle was able to generate some chances and hit two posts the breakdowns in the defensive end eventually led to their demise. While it is true that they ran into a beautiful goaltending performance by new Prince George goaltender Ty Rimmer (no wonder he's good, just check the name) they got the result they likely deserved in the 2-0 loss.

The game wasn't a complete loss as Travis Toomey had a nice shorthanded chance that clanged off the crossbar and over the goal and Seattle did manage 36 shots on goal. They just weren't able to finish the way they had been able to finish up to this point in the season.

Some other notes… Jacob Doty and Mitch Elliot each got themselves a scrap on Friday. Elliot gets the win over Brock Hirsche in short order landing about 3 or 4 hard punches before both went down to the ice. Hirsche went down awkwardly and had to be helped off the ice. I hope he isn't hurt too badly. Doty spent warm-ups and a lot of the game "talking" to Cougar players trying to get a dance partner and finally got one with Greg Fraser. The fight ended rather quickly when Doty dropped Fraser with a solid right hand. I'm still shocked that neither Sena Acolatse nor Charles Inglis stepped up to challenge Doty.

Anyone else remember Daniel Gibb? Gibb, if you recall, was a 8th round bantam choice of the Tbirds out of Prince George in 2007 and was released (I believe) after training camp last year before catching on with the Cougars. Did that kid grow or what?? I don't remember exactly how tall he was in training camp last year but he now stands 6'3" and 205 lbs according to the WHL website and it wouldn't shock me if he was actually taller than that now. Wow he grew.

Saturday night in Kamloops was substantially worse even though Seattle managed to "earn" a point, thanks almost entirely to another strong performance from Pickard. When Seattle tied the game at 1-1 late in the 2nd period on a PP goal by Travis Bobbee the shot totals were 35-8 in favor of Kamloops. The final total saw Pickard make 49 saves on 52 shots with the Blazers winning it just 32 seconds into overtime with a PP goal from Jordan DePape. Pickard battled his butt off to earn Seattle a point they really didn't deserve. Maybe the team was tired? Maybe they don't sleep well when they take the bus trip the night before? I don't know… but the effort wasn't very good.

Seattle did have another really pretty PP goal by Marcel Noebels who was on the receiving end of a tic-tac-toe setup courtesy of Burke Gallimore and Luke Lockhart. Lockhart added a 2nd assist on the Bobbee goal and now has 8 points in 12 games this season.

Doty had another scrap, his 9th in 12 games, against Brandon Underwood that was mostly a draw. It looked to me like Underwood might have landed one decent shot and got Doty's helmet off before both went tumbling to the ice. In case you were wondering… Doty is on pace for 54 fights. Seattle had a grand total of 51 fights last season.


Sloppy Play Continues

Tbirds earn only 1 point in 2 games this weekend as their sloppy play continuted to hurt them. Full recap and thoughts coming on Monday.


Sloppy Shootout Loss

Seattle gave up a lead 4 different times last night and lost in the shootout 5-4 to the Tri-City Americans. It was a lost opportunity for Seattle who could have and probably should have won that game going away. Give the Americans credit for taking advantage of the defensive breakdowns by the Tbirds and earning the two points. Yesterday, I wrote about how Seattle had managed to eliminate a vast majority of the big mistakes this season and the results were starting to show on the scoreboard and in the standings. Of course as soon as I had published that, the mistake prone Tbirds from last season made an ugly appearance at the ShoWare Center last night. The mistakes were glaring and goaltender Calvin Pickard really didn't have a chance on any of the 4 American goals.

This team has a chance to be really good this season and the only thing holding them back is the elimination of this big mistakes.

Bullet points are fun and simple…

  • How about the night for Marcel Noebels. One of the cool aspects of following and cheering for a Junior Hockey team is the reminder that they are still just kids. The Noebels family has been in town for the past several days, taking in the game down in Portland and the game last night. They watched the young German put together a "Gordie" getting a goal, 2 assists and a fight. His Mother covered her eyes as he dropped the gloves and came to the defense of Charles Wells who had taken a checking from behind penalty from Spencer Humphries. She tried to avert her eyes again as he raced towards Drew Owsley in the shootout… I believe she looked just in time to see him juke and score. Whether he meant to make that move or not… I have no idea. It looked to me like he lost the puck and was fortunate that it went in... But if he meant to do that? What a move and what a night for him and his family.
  • Brenden Dillon has made so much progress from just a season ago. His 9 assists this season put him on pace for 64, just a hair below point per game pace. His rush and drop pass to Noebels for the 1st goal of the game was an excellent effort and he made several other athletic rushes over the course of the game. He is still making a few mental errors and coverage issues here and there (as evidenced by the -1 last night) but his speed and handle for a defensemen is as good as I have seen lately and you just can't teach the natural first step that he has with the puck. I've said it before and I will say it again… shore up those mistakes in your own end and Dillon has the makings of a real impact player.
  • Burke Gallimore had a bit of an interesting night. He sniped a Power Play goal into the top corner to give Seattle the 4-3 lead midway through the 3rd period and he assisted one of the Power Play goals by Luke Lockhart. He was also on the ice for all 4 Americans goals and finished the night as a -3. His shootout attempt was the exact same shot that flew over the bar down in Portland on Friday, this attempt clanging off the crossbar instead. Hockey is a game of inches and I would bet the next attempt gets under the bar for a goal.
  • Luke Lockhart has been working very hard on those one-timers in practice and it paid off in spades as he slammed home a beautiful threaded pass by Noebels through the American PK early in the 2nd period.
  • I'm going to cringe typing this… but I think we saw a hockey game last night officiated by Pat Smith and um, I actually thought he did a pretty good job. Whoa. You could make an argument that Noebels didn't "deserve" an instigator penalty (which btw comes with an automatic 10 min. misconduct) and I thought the Too Many Men penalty on Seattle was a bit soft considering that all of the players in question were around the bench area… but for the most part I really didn't notice the officiating and that is a sign of a well called game.
  • Loser points aren't really very fun and they aren't sexy but they are still very important. With the point, Seattle has 13 points in 10 games that puts them on pace for 93.6 points. They also haven't lost in regulation in 7 games, which consequently means that have earned points in 7 straight games. Missed opportunities are never easy to swallow but points are points.

Prince George comes into town Friday night and Seattle had better not take them lightly. The new look Cougars have a healthy Brett Connolly and have added several quality players in Sena Acolatse, Taylor Stefishen, Martin Marincin and Charles Inglis. The Cougs are 7-5-1 and are averaging 4.6 goals a game.


Loser Points

I travelled down to Portland Friday night to take in the Birds and Hawks at the Rose Garden. It's always nice watching a game at the Rose Garden, it makes things seem just a little bit more important and it helps that Winterhawk fans have been packing the arena for games against the Tbirds.

Seattle was not at their best in this game but played well enough to earn a road point against what looks like the best team in the U.S. Division right now and that kind of effort should be commended. Calvin Pickard was on his game stopping 42 of 43 shots but I want to make a comment about the type of shots that he was facing. Last season, Seattle gave up a lot of shots but more importantly they gave up far too many quality shots and quality chances. Friday in Portland I saw a Seattle team that gave up 43 shots but many were kept to the outside and the mistakes that we saw the Tbirds make last season just aren't happening as often this season. Fewer breakways, fewer odd man rushes and fewer guys being left wide open on the doorstep. The difference between the two is slight but the results are showing in the win column and in Pickard's GAA.

In my mind the difference in the game was decided by the special teams, as Portland was far more dangerous on the Power Play and finally cashed in on a ridiculously good shot from Ty Rattie from a near impossible angle. On that note, I'm very impressed with Ty Rattie. In addition to his impressive goal in regulation, he cashed in his shootout opportunity with a really nice backhand over a sprawling Pickard. With the goal Friday, Rattie now has 9 goals and 23 points to go with a +12 rating in just 13 games… oh and as a 17 year old. Very impressive.

I continue to be impressed by the play of this team. They have played Portland very tough and the Winterhawks have run over just about everyone else in the league up to this point. Right now this team is trending much closer to the 4th-6th range in the Western Conference than the team that I thought might struggle to make the playoffs.

Ramsay is out again with status unknown.

Hickman has been skating and I imagine that his first game action will happen pretty soon and by that I mean in the next couple of weeks.

Troock is still not even with the team… which I have to imagine is a very bad sign for whatever injury he is battling.

Tomorrow night is a 2 for Tuesday game. Which means $2 beers… which means long concession lines.



Seattle sends Ryan Aasman to Swift Current for a conditional 5th round pick this afternoon.

The writing has been on the wall for Aasman since the start of the season as he played up front against Everett in the season opener. Now that Scott Ramsay is back and healthy, he just didn't have a spot.

Update: Ramsay actually played Friday in Vancouver but didn't play Saturday at home against Calgary. So I'm not as certain of his status as I thought he was.


Tonight vs. Calgary

I have one last commitment tonight that will keep me away from the game. We should be back to regular schedule next week.

In the meantime, Seattle has a change to start the season 6-2 tonight. The Tbirds didn't pick up their 6th win last season until November 13th against Kamloops.


Back From Vacation

Some of you have noticed that I have been absent for about two weeks while the Tbirds have won three straight (maybe I should just stop writing about this team and we'll win the Cup).

I had to travel to Atlanta for a wedding and spent 10 days there with some extended family. Interesting yes… blog worthy? No.

I did however get to attend the Atlanta Thrashers – Washington Capitals season opener at Phillips Arena, which was awesome with the exception of the very scary incident involving Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Being in the building when it happened was very scary and fortunately it looks like Pavelec will be just fine.

In the meantime, the Tbirds rattled off 3 straight wins. 2 of those 3 wins coming via the shootout. It's amazing how different things can feel when you win those shootouts as opposed to losing them. Last season, Seattle would have likely lost those two shootouts and the result would have been a team that had lost 3 out of 4. Instead, the Tbirds are riding a 3 game winning streak and the difference was only a few shootout attempts. That extra point is pretty huge both in the standings and mentally.

You'd have to be pretty happy with the club after 6 games. Tbirds are 4-2 so far with 4 of those games coming on the road and 1 of those games being lost in the final minute of the contest. Their 20 goals and 16 against projects them for a 240-192 total over the course of the 72 game season and that should certainly be good enough to have them in the playoffs.

Scoring has been very spread out with Gallimore and Jacobs leading the way with 5 points apiece and 10 other players with at least 2 points. Better yet are the plus/minus totals. Sutter leads the team with a +6, which is a tremendous sign as I still think he will continue to improve a ton over the course of the season. Wells and Dillon are +4 and Noebels and Lund are both +3.

Nice to see Mitch Elliot off to a nice start with 2 goals and 4 points… if you had told me at the start of the season that Eilliot might score 20 goals and 50 points I would have been thrilled. Very nice start by this team.


Here’s What I Saw

Some general weekend comments and then some comments on the players specifically. I did get to see all but the 1st period on Sunday as the brand new (not so new) NeuLion PPV system for the WHL was not broadcasting the first period of the game last night before finally getting fixed.

For the most part it was a pretty decent weekend. Friday night in Everett the Tbirds played a mostly solid game jumping out in front of the Tips 2-0 before coughing up the lead, regaining the lead, losing the lead again and finally making a mistake in the final minute of the game that led to a loss. Intensity was good, checking was good, the passing was decent in parts and the Power Play looked downright dangerous. Until…. They weren't able to convert on a 5 minute Power Play with 6:30 to play in the game and it seemed as though everyone in the building knew the Tbirds would be extremely fortunate to survive regulation after they could not cash in on the man advantage. In fact… I hate to admit that I turned to my buddy at the game with 0:51 left and remarked "It would seem bittersweet after how decent they have played… but I would feel really happy if we could get this game to Overtime." Unfortunately, 20 seconds later the Tips made sure the game didn't get to Overtime after a miscue between the Bobbee - Dillon defensive combination. To be quite honest, Seattle got what it likely deserved as Calvin Pickard made no less than 3 unbelievable saves to keep Everett out of the net. The score could have quite easily have been 6-3 in favor of Everett and Tbird fans would have likely left the building unhappy about the effort.

Saturday night the Tbirds opened their home schedule in grand fashion welcoming back my personal hockey hero Glen Goodall and picking up a well earned 4-1 win over a depleted Portland Winterhawks team. Let's not get too carried away thinking that Seattle might be better than Portland just because of this first home game. Portland was missing several key players who were away at NHL camps. There is no question that Seattle was the better team on Saturday night but I don't think any of us should think that Portland's roster is going to look like that a month from now. Certainly it was a fun night for everyone and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the Tbirds won't be going winless against the Winterhawks this season.

Last night, Seattle looked tired in getting dominated by Tri-City. The players should be commended for staying with the program and keeping the game close into the 3rd period but when you look up at the scoreboard and at some point in the 3rd period you see that the shots on goal are 32-9 in favor of the opposition, you pretty much know all that you need to know about the game. Pickard again was, at times, brilliant in this game making 2 or 3 outstanding saves to keep the Americans off the board. This was another game where Pickard's play masked how truly lopsided it was and with a mere mortal goaltender in net the score could have easily been 6 or 7-1.

Quick run through the roster as it is listed on the Tbirds website:

Tyler Alos – Still hurt.

Jacob Doty – You gotta love a player like Doty who did his best to make it a 3 fights in 3 games weekend and would have had one if not for Everett's Campbell Elynuik turning down his fight offer in the game on Friday. Why Elynuik turned him down? You're guess is as good as mine. Even though you simply have to love a player like Doty, the simple fact of the matter is that he must improve his skating if he wants to be able to be anything more than a 4th line player. You can't question his heart, but right now he is still a work in progress. Having said that… I look forward to each and every tilt he will have this season. If Rob lets him go he could wind up with 30 fights.

Mitch Elliot – Switched numbers to #7 and I think he looks funny with a small number and he played with Sanvido and Jacobs.

Burke Gallimore – Gallimore kind of drives me crazy and I think he drives a lot of fans crazy. He has one hell of a shot and when he gets time and space to shoot there are few guys in the league who are more dangerous one on one with a goalie. The issue has and always will be whether he can stay focused and hustle all season long as last season he seemed at times to be disinterested.

Justin Hickman – Hickman is out until November but I did select him in the 2nd round of my WHL Sim league… so I'm pretty happy about that.

Colin Jacobs – I'm confused by Jacobs. I love his hustle. I love his swagger. I love his talent… so it pains me to admit that I think he is missing the killer instinct and I was again reminded of that last night when he was stoned by The Russian goalie from Tri (no I am not looking up his name to spell it correctly). Jacobs is still only 17, so it's not like I'm giving up on him… Expectations are a bitch and I just expected him to be more dominant already. I think there are times when he is just trying too hard to make things happen… trying too hard to make one last move instead of taking the simple play or just using his speed to take the puck wide.

Luke Lockhart – Without question he was the most improved Tbird on the ice this weekend. He looked stronger, scored twice and looks poised to be one of the breakout guys who could exceed 50 or perhaps even 60 points this season. He also wore the "C" for one game this weekend and he is without a doubt a Captain in the making.

Chance Lund – Saw one flash of speed from Lund in Everett on Friday and quite frankly didn't see much else. He either needs to get better or just start punching people if he is going to be useful. He is 18 years old now and the window for becoming an impactful player is starting to close.

Marcel Noebels – A lot of things to like about our newest German Import. He passes the puck very well and even kicked his way to an assist on Saturday night. In addition to already showing a really nice passing touch, his goal Friday night in Everett was a top cheddar snipe over the shoulder of Kent Simpson and was an absolute beauty. His chemistry with linemates Charles Wells and Luke Lockhart has already made them the team's top line and I think the chances of him registering more than 50 points is very good.

Brendan Rouse – I still really like Rouse's game, but unfortunately he is stuck on the 4th line with Doty and Ryan Aasman right now making it tough for him to contribute meaningfully. I'm shocked that he isn't on the 2nd PK unit, a unit that is currently positioned with Gallimore and Travis Toomey.

Connor Sanvido – Put a really nice backhand shot/pass on net in Everett on Friday night that led to a goal. The Jacobs/Sanvido/Elliot line just didn't seem to have the right chemistry for most of the weekend. I wouldn't be surprised to see that line changed.

Travis Toomey – I can't say I was blown away by his game this weekend but he did log a couple of assists including a nice drop pass to Gallimore on Saturday night for a goal. From what I understand he is a good locker room guy.

Branden Troock – Injured… might be a while before we see him.

Charles Wells – Rock solid start to the season by Wells. As I mentioned, the Wells/Noebels/Lockhart line was Seattle's best all weekend and he worked the PP and the PK well. Wells is going to have to be an absolute stud this season if the Tbirds are going anywhere and through 3 games he has 3 points and he is +3. Perfect Start.

Ryan Aasman – Played forward this weekend for the most part on the 4th line. Unfortunately, that is probably a sad indication of how the coaching staff feels about his play on defense up to this point. I have no idea where Aasman fits on this team going forward.

Austin Baecker – The Baecker and Erik Fleming pairing was the most dangerous pairing all weekend for Seattle… and by dangerous I mean there was a danger of giving up a goal. Ok, ok… that's probably a little too harsh but Fleming and Baecker were on the ice immediately following the Tbirds taking a 2-0 lead in Everett on Friday night and resulted in a goal cutting the lead to 2-1. Baecker also got himself into a situation where he was challenged by the 5'8" Tanner Olstad last night in Tri-City and while I give Olstad a lot of credit for having the guys to take on the 6'6" Baecker he was really lucky that Baecker didn't seriously rough him up in the fight. Baecker is still a work in progress but as an 18 year old, time is not on his side.

Travis Bobbee – The stats wouldn't seem to indicate it (0 points, -2) but I thought Bobbee was Seattle's best defensemen over the weekend. He generally makes smart decisions with the puck, he's a pretty decent puck mover and most of his shots are of the intelligent variety and tend to make it to the net and create rebound opportunities. I don't think his "poor stats" will last very much longer as he will log plenty of minutes on the PP.

Erik Bonsor – Bonsor was constantly living on the edge this weekend and I believe he still takes way too many chances. Travis Bobbee is what Bonsor should be but hasn't quite figured out how to do it. In some ways, Bonsor might be the key to the entire season. If he makes poor decisions that lead to goals this team might be in trouble. If he can tighten it up and play solid stay at home defense this team probably has a shot at the playoffs.

Brenden Dillon - Dillon will have to be counted on to be a rock at the back end for the Tbirds. I love his physical play and I think he is vastly improved from a couple of seasons ago but I also think he is still far too inconsistent. He failed to mark his man in front of the net on Everett's game tying 3rd goal on Friday and he was involved in the game winner with Bobbee. He is agonizingly close to becoming a really solid player, he just needs to shore up the mistakes.

Erik Fleming - I feel pretty much the same way about Fleming that I do about Aasman. I'm just not sure where he fits on this team going forward and now that he is 18 it's time to start making progress because time is running out.

Austin Frank – Got the big DNP this weekend. I'm honestly not sure if he is hurt.

Scott Ramsay – Still recovering from a concussion he suffered down in training camp. His return is uncertain and the fact that I didn't see him in Everett with the other scratched players is a bad sign.

Dave Sutter – Seattle's other Import showed flashes of talent sprinkled in with some uncertainty. For a guy who is 6'5" and 208 lbs he gets knocked off his feet way too easily but he also generally makes good decisions with the puck and was able to put together 2 assists and a +2 rating over the weekend. I think Sutter is the kind of player who will probably improve the most over the course of the season. By March we could be looking at a very different player.

Calvin Pickard – Picks was a stud for a majority of the weekend, something we have come to take for granted. He was able to keep several excellent chances out of the net on Friday and Sunday that gave Seattle a chance to win.

Michael Salmon – Didn't play. I don't like his new pads. He needs two stripes instead of just the one. Why do goalies not consult me on these things before they order pads??


Weekend Recap Coming…

I'm working on a weekend recap… but I want to make some revisions before it goes up. Hang tight.

Nobody has anything to say about my excellent artwork??


Season Outlook

The season is just around the corner. I don't know about everyone else but I'm super excited to see some meaningful hockey and this group seems prepared to make some dramatic improvements over last year's version of the Thunderbirds.

So just how good do I think the Tbirds will be this season?

Let's walk our way through some well reasoned projections and see what we get.

Team Totals, 2009-2010:

172 Goals For – 255 Goals Against

Last season's defensive struggles has been much chronicled and it is hard to imagine that the unit could possibly be as bad as it was last season. Thus far I have heard nothing but positive reviews about Brenden Dillon and the addition of newly acquired Travis Bobbee, Austin Baecker, Austin Frank and Swiss import Dave Sutter should at the very least improve this unit slightly from last season.

It's also hard to imagine that Calvin Pickard will be better than he was last season but I would expect some marginal improvement as well. The learning curve gets pretty flat when you are already as good as Pickard is, but I'm sure he worked hard in the offseason and will benefit from his experience at Colorado's camp.

I think it's pretty safe to take the under on 255. A 30 goal improvement would be a pretty solid upgrade but I don't think that is out of the question so I'm going to peg goals against around 225.

Seattle's struggles on offense last season have also been discussed at length and I think it's pretty tough be reasonably optimistic about the goal total getting higher this season. Losing 41 goals and 69 points in the form of Prab Rai is a huge loss for a team that only scored 172 goals last season and that should be considered quite heavily in making any kind of offensive projections for Seattle. 2nd leading scorer Charles Wells should be poised for a breakthrough season and should be able to top his 21 goals and 55 points. Wells jumped from 15 points to 55 points last season, but don't expect another 40 point jump. He was close to being a point per game player in the final 3 months of last season so I will call for 25 goals and 70 total points. Beyond that… it's pretty tough to tell. Colin Jacobs should take a step forward in his development but I don't want to get crazy with his projection. His 13 goal, 26 point total wasn't bad for his rookie season but I think we all expected a little bit more and this season Seattle fans will have to hope he delivers. 20 goals and 25 assists shouldn't be out of the question. Other guys who should crack 40 points… Burke Gallimore and newcomer Marcel Noebels. Guys who might crack 40 points… I'd put Tyler Alos, Mitch Elliot, Luke Lockhart, Brendan Rouse, Connor Sanvido, Branden Troock and Travis Toomey in that category.

Unfortunately… that really isn't much. I think the offense will be improved but I can't reasonable project anything very much higher than 195 goals for this unit. It would some guys making huge steps forward and prove me wrong.

So… 195 Goals For and 225 Goals Against. Where does that leave us?

Quick Pythagorean Formula gives us a winning % of .428934 and 61.77 points.

Last season, 61 points would still have Seattle finishing in 9th place and missing the playoffs.

By my own admission though… I think these projections are pretty conservative. If things fall into place the way they could and our 18 year old players really take the next step forward, things could be better. Who knows… maybe Luke Lockhart becomes more of a scorer. Is this the year Chance Lund has a huge breakthrough? We just don't really know and I'm not betting on anything until I see it with my own two eyes.

In my best case scenario… I think the Tbirds defense improves all the way down to 200-210 and the offense surprises and pumps it up to 205-210. That would put the Tbirds closer to 72 points and likely back into the playoffs. I think the basement is probably 9th in the Western Conference and the ceiling is probably 6th at best.


Yard Sale

One of the biggest laments I hear from fans is the lack of fighting in the WHL these days. Long time fans have an especially hard time with lack of fighting because we were accustomed to seeing a lot of fighting back in the day. I used to actually recruit people to come to Tbirds games by telling them "Come to a game against Portland you'll be guaranteed at least a couple of fights and the possibility of a line brawl". Unfortunately, the game has changed and last season's "big" Portland v. Seattle showdown produced a whopping 4 fights back on January 23rd , a home loss to the Winterhawks.

So where has all the fighting gone?

Just 13 seasons ago the Tbirds logged 188 fights led by Chris Thompson who had 35 fights that season followed by Jason Beckett with 19 fights and 5 other players in double figures. Last season, the Tbirds found themselves in just 51 scraps and were led by the pugilistic excellence of Scott Ramsay with a lofty total of 12. Brenden Dillon checked in with 9, just barely missing double digits.

Seattle Thunderbirds fighting totals by year courtesy of

1997-98: 188

98-99: 134

99-2000: 114

2000-01: 119

01-02: 130

02-03: 103

03-04: 85

04-05: 73

05-06: 67

06-07: 47

07-08: 68

08-09: 75

09-10: 51

It's no secret that the league has made a concerted effort to cut down on fighting as they have increased the fines associated with "multiple fight" situations and instituted the absolutely ridiculous "helmet rule" last season only to watch fighters go "oops I knocked your helmet off and you knocked mine off before we started throwing punches… how convenient".

Even with the league wide drop in fighting, Seattle has fallen behind the average. Last season's 51 fights ranked them 20th in the league ahead of Tri-City (49) and Swift Current (46). League average was 74.27 fights and league leaders Prince George dropped the mitts 116 times. Any notion that fighting has a correlation to winning should be thrown right out the door as Seattle was terrible without fighting while the Cougars were terrible fighting all the time.

The real question is whether Seattle can get back to the 60's and 70's (or even 80's???) in number of fights and I think there is a good chance that they will.

Jacob Doty only played 5 games for the Birds last season but already has 3 fights this preseason. Mitch Elliot had only 3 fights last season but will likely have more with the increased playing time and Ramsay should be able to come close to equaling his 12 from a season ago and Chance Lund might best his 7 scraps from last season as well. Of the 51 fights last season all but 6 will "return".

While fighting doesn't seem to have a correlation to actual winning (see Seattle near the bottom and Prince George at the top), I don't think there is any question that a couple of good scraps can give your team a boost. It gets the home crowd more into the game and sometimes it can even give a team a boost on the road and on paper it looks like Seattle will have a small collection of some of the toughest guys in the league.

While it remains to be seen whether the scoring touch that Seattle has shown in the preseason will carry over into the regular season… it seems a pretty good bet that we should see a tougher Seattle team this winter that shouldn't have too much trouble eclipsing the total from last season.


A Change in Philosophy

As many of you know, last season was especially tough in the life of this blogger. No... It wasn't tough in a "lose your job" kind of way. It was tough going through a season trying to stay objective in the face of a team that was pretty darn lousy. There are only so many times you can say "Pickard is awesome, the defense is making too many mistakes and nobody scores besides Rai".

This, coupled with some other "factors", made me consider hanging it up. At the end of the day, I certainly don't need this blog. It's like having a second job that doesn't pay the bills and it really isn't that much fun having Thunderbird "fans" harass you for providing free content to read simply because they don't agree with your point of view.

Summer came and summer went and my energy has been renewed to a certain extent. I was excited to be writing again and I was excited to start working on roster construction articles and mathematically breaking down whether this team could make enough progress to find themselves back in the playoffs again (article soon to follow).

For the past 3 seasons I have "covered" the team like a journalist without a media pass, like a beat reporter with no ability to attend practice and limited ability to travel with the team. As a result, I feel like my role as a "reporter" has suffered. I simply do not have time to attend every prospect scrimmage, training camp scrimmage and every single game. I have a life and that life includes a lot of things outside of Thunderbirds hockey. Does that mean I can't still provide fans with some quality content? I don't think so and I'm betting on the fact that a lot of fans still want to hear what I have to say (maybe I'm wrong!!)

3 years ago, the team issued very few press releases, offered very little information and most certainly didn't have a Facebook profile and a Twitter account to better disseminate basic information to the fans. The team now does all of that. Want to know who was invited to prospect camp? Go check the website. Want to know how former Tbirds are doing? Check their Facebook page. Want to have live updates on scoring from the game when you can't be there? Check their Twitter page.

All of these developments are things I wished the team had done 3 years ago… hence the genesis of Let's Go Birds. So the question is what should I do now that the reasons for starting the website have been fulfilled? Do I quit? Or do I adapt and evolve?

I've always thought to that the model for my website should look like USS Mariner. For those who are Mariner fans and have never visited their (not so) little website, I highly recommend it. If you want to become a more educated baseball fan, check it out. USS Mariner doesn't "report" on the Mariners very much because they have the Seattle Times, P.I. and TNT doing that for them. The Thunderbirds don't really have any traditional media outlets covering them, but most of the basic information fans are looking for can most certainly be found.

So what does this all mean?

It means that from this day forward I am changing the way I write Let's Go Birds. It's going to be less about "covering" the team and more about the analysis of the team. Obviously some topics and events will fall into a grey area between reporting and analysis and the line will become blurred. This will mean more content on big picture things and less about the details. If you want to know who is injured and how long they will be out, look for that some other place. I'm not going to go hunting down that information like a reporter would. If Marcel Noebels is hurt right now (which he is) I'm just not going to harass parents, players or front office staff members trying to find out what exactly is wrong. That is information you're just going to have to find in other places.

The team wants to treat me like any other fan with a blog. No special attention or privileges and no differentiation between myself and anyone else. I don't like it and I don't agree with it… but I don't have to and I'm certainly not going to sit here and cry into my keyboard about it either. Quite frankly, just like I don't really need this blog… I don't need input from players, coaches, front office or anyone else in order to provide the fans with quality content. I learned to skate when I was 4 years old and I've played this game for a total of 17 years between junior and adult recreational hockey. I think my knowledge of the game is strong but I'm also not arrogant enough to believe that I have everything figured out and I constantly strive to learn more about the game, this team and the WHL.

This won't be an easy transition. I'm not entirely sure how to do it, but I'm going to give it a shot and see how it goes.


Training Camp Scrimmage Day 2... yawn

I wish I could sit here an tell you all of the exciting things I saw at the 2nd Training Camp scrimmage yesterday but I always promised to tell my readers the truth. So the truth is I was bored yesterday. I was bored yesterday because there really isn't much to decide in camp this year.

I'll save the roster breakdown for another day but there are arguably only 2 or 3 spots open on this roster unless Russ gets creative and makes some trades before the season started.

I counted 7 defencemen who are locks or near locks to make the roster and the team will likely carry only around 8 or maybe 9. I counted 11 forwards who will likely make the roster and once you count Noebels who hasnt skated yet and the "yet to be traded for 20 year old player" that Seattle will no doubt acquire you have 13 forwards who are likely on the roster and they will probably only carry around 14.

As such... most of the players in camp know they are already making the team and that creates a mostly boring game.

That said... here are the few mental notes that I made to myself yesterday.

- I love watching Colin Jacobs play. He is the kind of player I love having on my team. He always plays hard, always. As I stated earlier, these games really don't mean anything and a handful of players are playing like it doesn't matter... but Jacobs isn't one of them. He's playing like he has something to prove on each shift and I can appreciate a player like that.

- In my opinion, one of those roster battles is going to be the 8th and final defensive position and that battle will likely come down to Austin Frank, Zach Walker, Evan Wardley and Austin Baecker. Each brings something slightly different to the table and to various degrees I like all of them. I'd probably lean towards Wardley being the guy.

- Smooth transition... Wardley is a 16 year old. Look for the Tbirds to keep only 2 or maybe 3 players from the '94 class on the roster this year. Troock is a no-brainer with my pick for the 2nd spot being Wardley. I think Jetlan Houcher is making it difficult for them to send him home.

- Goaltending depth beyond Calvin Pickard and Michael Salmon is looking quite thin. I haven't seen anything impressive from the other goaltenders. That doesn't mean they've been bad... they just aren't standing out.

- One final note. In the closing minutes of the scrimmage Silvester fore-checked hard and went in a little high on Scott Ramsay knocking him to the ice (no small feat). Ramsay didn't care for it and went after Silvester and they had a very brief fight that was more of a wrestling match than anything else. Two points here. I've been saying for a while that if Silvester can stay healthy that he might be in for a big year. 60-70 points big? Probably not. The ultimate sparkplug who can skate, hit and score a little? Maybe. Second point. I like the fact that Ramsay isn't going to take shit from anyone even if it is just a training camp scrimmage.

- The one player I wanted to watch more than anyone was Connor Sanvido. The 2008 1st round bantam selection must make this roster to have any future with the Thunderbirds. Thus far I just haven't seen enough out of him. To his credit he was skating hard and did have an assist on the first goal that came off a rebound from his shot... but I just don't think he is a slam dunk to make this roster. Frustrating for the fans and probably Sanvido himself.


Training Camp Day 1

In case you all were wondering (because... I'm sure you were). I wasn't able to attend training camp last night due to my softball team playing in the NW National Championships. I will be in attendance tonight and I will be able to take some notes on the happenings.

Armed with the knowledge that I wouldn't be able to attend I asked a fan that I trust to take some notes. Without further ado... here they are.


The headline of tonight’s scrimmage should be

“Vets return to the ice for the first time, and it looked like it”

The vets were back on the ice, but only a few really stood out.

Overall, you could tell it was the vets first time on the ice in a game situation.

Not a lot of great passing and flow.

Lots of them just blended in, and did nothing to make me take notice.

By rough count, this is the breakdown by age
15 – 12
16 – 11
17 – 9
18 – 12
19 – 5
20 – 1

One notable missing was (Ryan) Armbruster.
3rd round pick in 2008.

New additions (older new players)

Thomas Stuart-Dant (forward - 91) (Winnipeg boy that played last season NCAA Minot State, listed as 6’0, 180)
Looks like he played at Lake Superior State before that

Matt Krahn (goalie, and no relation to Brent - 91)
Met him last night, big broad shoulder kid)

Cody Brown (defense – 93)
Was in PG’s camp last season

Connor Sanvido (forward - 93)
Zach Walker (defense – 93)

New additions (older players not really with team last season)

Jacob Doty (forward – 93)
Frank Austin (defense – 93)
Dave Sutter (defense – 92)
Austin Baecker (defense – 92)

Marcel Noebels (shoulder)
Branden Troock (migraine headache)

Returnees that looked good
Colin Jacobs – constant hustle, nice goal, hitting people
Brenden Dillon – not afraid to rush the puck, got back to play defence, laid out a couple nice hits
Burke Gallimore – all over the ice, flying, worked hard, skated hard

Returnees that were ok
Chance Lund – hustled a lot, used size, found the net once, but all other shots were wide, just like last year
Charles Wells – had one good show of his speed, but that was about all
Brendan Rouse – good passing, and generally hustled and hit
Luke Lockhart – Showed some speed and a great shot. Passed well

Returnees I had to check my paper to see if they were on the ice
Mitch Elliot
Tyler Alos – huge, easy to find on the ice, but that was about it
Brennan Tutt
Brenden Silvester
Scott Ramsay
Tanner Muth
Ryan Aasman – had one rush that made me take note
Erik Bonsor
Erik Fleming


1150 KKNW Coverage Map

Ask and you shall receive. This is the nighttime coverage map for KKNW 1150 AM and the coverage map for KFNK 104.9 The Monkey. It looks like the reception should be pretty good but might be a little weak in parts of the east hill. It will almost certainly be better for most people with the exception of some people to the South and East of the Kent area.

New Radio Network... sorta

Tbirds General Manager Russ Farwell is on ESPN Radio Seattle 710am with Brock and Salk right now announcing that the Tbirds will have "some" of their games broadcast on ESPN 710am. They haven't mentioned yet how many of the games will be on 710 but quite frankly it doesn't matter... this is a good announcement no matter what.

Getting some games on a much bigger network is a huge move for the Tbirds and the added mention of the games by the on air hosts should be a boost as well.

EDIT: The Monkey is out. After TWO seasons on 104.9 the Monkey the Tbirds will be moving back to 1150 KKNW for most (52) of their games.

ESPN 710 AM will broadcast 20 regular season games and the other 52 will return to KKNW 1150 AM.

Official Press Release is here.

Live Blogging Training Camp

Last week I put in a request to the front office for a wireless conncection to be allowed to live chat from training camp, providing fans who cannot attend the chance to talk about the team and find out in real time how things were going over at ShoWare.

My request was rejected.

So instead... Yesterday the team announced that you can tune in to Thom Beuning and Ian Henry doing a live blog by visiting the website here.


Goodall Returns

The Tbirds announced yesterday that Glen Goodall will return for the Opening Night festivities.

I can't begin to explain to you how excited I am to see this happen. I'm probably one of only a few die hard Tbird fans remaining who saw Goodall play and it will be a real treat to see him back in Seattle with the team.

Goodall has been playing professionally in Germany for the past 10 seasons.

You could make a pretty strong argument that Goodall wasn't the best player in franchise history. Fan sentiment seems to lean towards Patrick Marleau as the winner of that honor but nobody can argue that Goodall had the greatest impact on the franchise.

To recap... Goodall holds the WHL record for regular season games played at 399 and most goals scored at 262. He played 59 games and had 26 points for the Breakers at the age of 14 and "only" 41 points the following year as a 15 year old before busting out for 63 goals and 112 points as a 16 year old.

His biggest season came as a 19 year old playing with sidekick Victor Gervais he notched 76 goals and 163 points leading the Thunderbirds to a 52-17-3 record with a home record of 33-2-1 at Mercer Arena. Shockingly good for only 2nd in the conference behind those damn Kamloops Blazers. Unfortunately, he appeared in only 10 of the Tbirds 13 playoff games notching 14 points and the Tbirds lost in the 2nd round of the playoffs 5 games to 1 to the Blazers.

(Quick side note... for those who haven't been following the team that far back. The rivalry with Kamloops was as strong as any rivalry. Portland of course... but Kamloops was at least a close 2nd due unfortunately to the fact that Kamloops always seemed to eliminate Seattle in the playoffs each year.)

At 5'8" and 170 pounds he was always my favorite player for being so good while being such a relatively small player (I'm only 5'8" as well). Many fans have slightly dismissed his WHL records pointing to his involvement as a 14 and 15 year old but many fail to admit that while he did have 67 points in those two seasons he did not play in the league as a 20 year old and a vast majority of his points were still accumulated between his 16-19 year old seasons.

It will be with pride and excitement that I wear my customized Goodall jersey to Opening Night to welcome back number 10.


News Dump - ShoWare Video board edition

A few news items I thought were worthy.

- Kent City Counsil voted 6-0 to spend a cool 225k to build a video board that will sit outside of ShoWare Center. This is awesome news and should help the building promote the Thunderbirds and their other events.

- Spokane Chiefs announced yesterday that they will hold an outdoor game against Kootenay. I personally think the outdoor game concept is starting to get worn out but I still think this is pretty cool. Dave Trimmer has the story on the game.

- Portland is thinking about where they are going to play after the 2013 season and people are already speculating about the possibility of them moving to Victoria should a plan to improve the Memorial Coliseum fail. Let's all hope that doesn't happen.


Training Camp Schedule

I was sent the Training Camp Schedule just moments ago.

Here are the times. All skates will be held at ShoWare unless specifically specified.

Prospect Camp:

Thursday, August 26th: 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Friday, August 27th: 8:00am - 10:00am AND
Friday, August 27th: 4:30pm - 6:30pm at Kent Valley Ice Centre
Saturday, August 28th: 10:00am - 12:00 noon

Main Camp:

Saturday, August 28th: 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Sunday, August 29th: 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Monday, August 30th: 6:00pm - 8:30pm


20 Year Old Situation

As many of you know, Seattle has only one 20 year old player returning from last season and that would be defensemen Brenden Dillon, who is a virtual lock to be back and make this roster this season.

This leaves the Thunderbirds with the ability to add two 20 year old players to the roster.... if they want.

One thing I see as a very real possibility is the Tbirds carrying only two 20 year olds on the roster instead of the maximum allowed three.

Why would Seattle do this? Quite simply, playing time. Take one look at this roster and you'll see a roster loaded with young players. Seattle already has 6 defensemen returning from last season that saw significant playing time in the form of Dillon, Bonsor, Fleming, Aasman, Ramsay and Muth. If you include Austin Frank and newly acquired import Dave Sutter in that mix you'd have 8.

Up front you have 10 likely returners in Troock, Rouse, Silvester, Gallimore, Lund, Wells, Jacobs, Lockhart, Elliot and Alos. Add to that Noebels and possibly Sanvido and that number grows to 12 forwards and 20 total players.

I don't have much doubt that any 20 year old player acquired would likely be an upgrade over the players at the bottom of this roster. Adding a quality player would most certainly improve this team in the short term. The real question lies in how that acquired player would possibly adversely affect the playing time and development of a younger player.

Put it this way...

Let's say this team is still 4th or 5th in what looks like a very tough U.S. Division. Wouldn't you rather see Alos, Elliot and Troock on your 1st or 2nd Power Play unit instead of a 20 year old player that won't be around for what appears to be a pivotal 2011-12 season?

Given that, I still believe that Seattle will go get one 20 year old. I just wouldn't hold your breath waiting for Russ Farwell to go out and get two of them.

Let's take a look at what might be out there.

Brandon: Darren Bestland, Jordan Hale, Mark Schneider, David Toews and Shayne Wiebe.

Brandon has a ton of 20 year olds and they have more than I have even bothered to list here. Jacob DeSerres and Andrew Hayes are also 20, but neither are coming to Seattle. Bestland and Schneider are defensemen and I don't think Seattle is going in that direction. This leaves Shayne Wiebe, Jordan Hale and David Toews as possibilities. My guess would be that Brandon keeps Toews, making Hale and Wiebe available... with Wiebe carrying a higher price tag than Hale.

Everett might have someone like Daniel Iwanski available but trades within the division are always tough so I wouldn't look for any deal like that to happen.

Medicine Hat will also likely have several forwards available as they will probably only keep one of a group that includes Joey Frazer, Taylor Gal, Tristin King and Matt MacKay. You could pick a name out of a hat... I'm not sure any of the 4 would specifically appeal to Seattle. King is the tallest of the bunch at 6'0" so I'll say maybe they would have the highest interest in him.

Moose Jaw will have a few players available including former Tbird Spencer Edwards, along with Thomas Frazee and Dylan Hood. Moose Jaw could do any number of things, but in a situation where they would keep Bosch and Rowinski they would only keep either Frazee or Hood. Frazee is 6'4" and had 55 points last year. Gee... you think they might be interested in a 6'4" Center who had 55 points last season. I'm thinking they do... but they could also go after Hood as well.

Prince Albert could have Colin Redden or Jordan Hickmott available.

Red Deer... you're looking at maybe Brett Ferguson.

Saskatoon has several choices... including Sena Acolatse and Jeremy Boyer who might find themselves looking for a job. They also have Randy McNaught (6'5") and Travis Toomey (6'4") who are big tough forwards.

Don't get too attached to this very loose "breakdown" of the 20 year old situation as things are pretty fluid and they are changing all the time.

UPDATE: I don't think this changes Seattle's situation at all but to show just how fluid the situation really is... Kelowna just acquired Brendon Wall reducing their number to 4. Reddin or Hickmott could still conceivably be a target.


Schedule Breakdown

By comparison, this season's tentative schedule is much better for the team.

Last season, Seattle had some difficult travel sets like the November 6-8th stretch where they played in Kent on Friday the 6th, Portland on Saturday the 7th and Chilliwack on Sunday the 8th.

Or the very next weekend where they went Kamloops to Everett and back to Vancouver in a 3 day stretch.

Travel is obviously a part of Junior Hockey so I'm not making an excuses for the team.... The only point here is that the schedule in 2010-11 is much easier.

In addition, I believe last season they had somewhere between 9 and 11 "3 in 3's" (I didn't look it up) and this season they only have 6 stretches where they play 3 games in 3 nights.

The toughest stretch, as far as number of games, appears to be at the end of December and January where starting on December 28th the Tbirds will play 18 games in just 35 days.

Overall... this is probably as close to ideal as Seattle could get. Now all they have to do is go out and start winning some games... gulp.

The Schedule is out

Link to the schedule can be found here.

Counting very quickly...

Home games by day of the week:

Tuesday - 7
Wednesday - 2
Friday - 7
Saturday - 14
Sunday - 6

I'm going to take a good hard look at the schedule a little further and come back to break it down later.


Second 1st Round Selection...

Thunderbirds select Dave Sutter from Switzerland.

195 lbs

Sutter played last season for the Swiss National Team at the U-18 registering 2 assists in 6 games.

I will update as I find more.

The pick...

Is Marcel Noebels of Germany.

Noebels was a member of the Krefeld Juniors but also played for Krefeld's top club Krefeld Pinguine. As a member of Jungadler Mannheim he helped them to back to back DNL league titles in 07/08 and 08/09. Listed as a Center, Noebels is 6'2" and 192 lbs.

He also was a member of the German U18 team that won a Gold Medal last year in the 2nd Division of the U18 tournament, leading all players in goals, assists and points.

Here are a few links for your digestion.

Elite Prospects
Hockey's Future
USA Today

Import Draft News

Seattle is literally moments away from making their 1st selection in the 2010 CHL Import Draft but the Tbirds are already making quiet news this morning as they have somehow acquired another 1st round Import selection from the Red Deer Rebels, the 34th overall selection in the draft.

This most certainly means that Mikhail Sentyurin will not be back with the club next season.

No word yet on how Seattle acquired this pick, I'm sure we will hear soon.

Gotta run to the office, I'll be back with some information on the pick about to be made.


Pickard makes the short list

Let's kick the tires on the blog a little bit here as we approach the NHL Entry Level draft on Friday and more importantly the CHL Import Draft on the 29th.

Calvin Pickard today was named to the short list of four goaltenders invited to compete for a spot on Canada's Junior National team.

Not much of a shock here as I think Calvin is likely the best Junior goaltender in Canada right now but I'm probably just a tad bit biased on that.

Jean-François Bérubé from Montreal and Olivier Roy from Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL join Pickard and Mark Visentin from Niagara of the OHL as the 4 goaltender that will compete for the final two spots.

Obviously I think Calvin should make the team but with two older goaltenders on the list you never know what might happen.

Link can be found here.

The most obvious story coming out of the NHL Entry Draft on Friday (as far as Tbird fans will be concerned) will be the where and to whom Calvin Pickard gets drafted... but there will be perhaps a more interesting story to watch for Tbird fans.

Brad Holland of has a mock draft that places Seattle list player Jason Zucker being selected by the Anaheim Ducks with the 29th overall selection in the 1st round. If Zucker is drafted that high, might the Ducks send him to Seattle knowing he would get a ton of ice time? or would they allow Zucker to fulfill his commitment to Denver U. in the fall of 2010.

WHL Scoreboard