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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Frustrating Weekend

I'm going to label that a frustrating weekend for the Tbirds. They started the weekend on a solid note playing 40 good minutes against Everett at home and more or less coasting to the finish line for a 3-1 win. In some ways I felt like this was the most complete victory the Tbirds have had in a while. They played solid defense, got some solid goaltending and just enough offense to get the job done.

Saturday night was a completely different story from the reports that I got and while they battled back after falling behind 3-0 they just couldn't quite get the tying goal and dropped a 6-5 game.

Last night, Seattle had the good fortune of a "best possible start" when they scored just 12 seconds into the game but weren't able to sustain that effort. Vancouver scored 3 unanswered goals covering the 2nd and 3rd periods and the Tbirds fell 4-3.

A rough start to this critical stretch of the season. Getting only 2 out of 6 possible points over the weekend was a bad start and may just be an indication of what we're going to see down the stretch.

I tried to focus on some individuals over the weekend... here are my thoughts.

- Ryan Button: Button came over in the Charles Wells trade and quickly impressed during his first few games. He is extremely calm with the puck, has a very good and hard shot and isn't afraid to play the body and mix it up with disrespecting opponents. I love his addition to the team... but I fear he won't be around for next season. He is a much better fit than Wells and even if he doesn't return you've opened up a spot for another 20 year old that you likely would have needed from moving Wells anyways.

- Mitch Spooner: Honestly, I don't think he has made much of an impact in the games I have seen. So far I'm going to have to give this a TBD.

- Erik Fleming: Fleming has played better recently after being used as a Forward and as a Defensemen. He appears to be playing with a tad more confidence and he is a player the Tbirds simply must be able to turn around if they want to take a step forward next season.

- Burke Gallimore: Gallimore had a better game last night against Vancouver... but Friday he looked tired, disinterested, frustrated or sick... or something. I'm not sure but he looked off.

- Travis Toomey: Speaking of sick... what a solider Toomey is. Friday night he was clearly sick as he came back to the bench at one point and preceded to puke at least once and probably a couple of times before grabbing a bit of water and heading back out for his next shift. Meanwhile, he has 12 points in his last 8 games and that includes 5 multi-point games.

- Dave Sutter: Sutter had what I thought was one of his best games of the season on Friday night followed by what I thought was one of his worst games on Sunday. I've said this before and I'll say this again... he is very raw and unfinished so these up and down games are what you're going to get until he gets some more experience under his belt. I'm still very optimistic.

- Chance Lund: Lund has suddenly become useful. What a difference a little bit of confidence can do for a player. A month ago I was ready to write him off and now he is legitimately decent. He has 3 goals, 5 points and is +7 in 9 games this month. He is still a little bit up and down at times but he seems to have turned the corner.

- Justin Hickman and Connor Sanvido: I'm lumping these two together because I thought they had the same meaningful impact on the game on Friday night. They didn't have the same impact on Sunday but that kind of inconsistency is to be expected from young players. Find that consistency and the increase in playing time will happen. Hickman picked up his first WHL point on a nice assist to Lund on Friday.

- Jacob Doty: Doty had another nice fight on Friday night but he also drew a penalty and was a factor. The same consistency issues are true with Doty as well.

- Brenden Dillon: Still hasn't been signed to a pro contract and I'm still a little bit surprised that he hasn't. His points are down a little bit this month but he is also +6. Solid.

Tbirds are back in action tomorrow night against Kamloops. For Seattle... time is starting to run out. That might sound a bit dramatic as there are 27 games left but the margin of error is getting smaller and smaller with each loss.


Remember to click on the link above to donate to the Ronald McDonald House. Be sure to select the Hockey Challenge Program and in the comment section put "Tyler Hunnex, Hockey Challenge, IEB Team" so that I get credit for your generous donation. Thank you very much.


Anonymous said...

Tyler agree with most of what you wrote. I actually liked the effort of Hickman and Sanvido both Friday and Sunday. Checked Saturday's box score from the game at Everett and noticed Sanvido was +1 and Hickman was 0. So they are starting to play well with more minutes. Good sign. I see you didn't comment on Bonsor. He's been disappointing to me. He looks disinterested. -1 with no pts in three games over the weekend. He's average at best and I expect more from a 19 yr old. Any Troock update? Thought he was coming back after the holidays but we've played nearly 2/3rds of the season and it doesn't look like he's any closer to being in the lineup. Someone told me he's not even skating at practice. Hope it's not another 1st rd bantam pick that goes south.

Thunnex said...

On Bonsor... I'd call that my indifference. I think he's a decent player who is soaking up some minutes. Not terrible, but also not making much of an impact.

Troock? I have no update... from what I have been told by other fans he is not currently with the team so I have no idea whether he is skating or not.

My best "guess"... we won't see Troock this season and we hope he is 100% healthy for next season.

Kodi said...

Troock is with the Team, saw him both Friday night and Sunday evening standing by the door in a suit watching warmups

Thunnex said...

Well that is at least good to know.

Anonymous said...

button has been on for almost every goal against in the past 3 games the thunderbirds have played...

Thunnex said...

Well that's not really the truth.

There were 9 sets of "Minus" players for the goals... so a total of 18 "Minuses".

Button - 4
Bonsor - 4
Sutter - 3
Dillon - 3
Spooner - 2
Fleming - 2

That's a pretty even distribution.

However... here's the kicker.

For the weekend Button was a 0. So while he was out there for 4 even strength goals he also contributed to at least 4 even strength goals and was likely on the ice for the PP goals as well.

I'll say it again... I like Button's game.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Toomey is a stud. And you know if he's sick there are others. So I would say all in all, not a bad weekend of hockey. They were in every game and competing hard. As a fan that's pretty much all I ask for.

Season Ticket Holder said...

If Toomey plays this good when he's sick, they should get him sick more often. Perhaps the booster club can arrange for somebody to cough on him everyday.

Anonymous said...

I understand the frustration but the reality is this is what we will probably see the rest of the year. There is very little to chose between the 7 teams fighting for 5 playoff spots so until March 18 we will all be at times frustrated and at times happy. T birds chances are at best 50/50. We have a very difficult schedule with 12 games against the top 3 teams. Playoffs will be made by winning games against everyone else. Also the fact that we only have 12 healthy forwards and really only about 6 of those are contributing on a regular basis will mean we will be struggling to score. Defense is also a big question mark with only Buttton & Dillon performing as top 4 D men. The rest are trying but not improving fast enough to help down the stretch. Poor player management will make for a challenging 2 months. Lets hope for a run of 5 or 6 wins and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

who is going to lead the charge on defense for next season?
Flemming, Sutter, Bonsor, Frank... who else?

Anonymous said...

Sure hope it's Button leading the defense or we're screwed!

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