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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Tbirds beat Blades, demand to be ranked #5 in silly CHL poll

One of the reasons why my writing sucked so much last year (hey I can admit it...) was because the Thunderbirds of the last two years were supremely boring to write about.  That shouldn't really be much of an excuse, but quite frankly I never considered myself much of a writer even before starting this blog a touch over 4 years ago and I still don't really consider myself much of a writer these days. This years team (so far) is so much more enjoyable to write about and it isn't only because of the now .500 record.  Recall that Seattle got off to a good start last year but I really didn't have very many positive things to say outside of the obvious (Pickard rocks, too many shots, defense isn't good, Dillon is a beast... etc.) I got up at 4am this morning to compete in a Bass fishing tournament.  I'm exhausted. I really want to go to bed... but Seattle's 3rd win in a row tonight has my adrenaline pumping just enough to bang this thing out and talk about a great and surprising win for the team. Bullet holes? Yes, please.

  • I just talked about how boring obvious observations are and I'm going to lead with some obvious ones.  Burke Gallimore and Marcel Noebels each notched 2 goals tonight and it was great to see the "usual suspects" chip in with some points. Both have been off to relatively slow starts and there is no way Seattle can continue to win without these guys putting points on the board.  Noebels scored on a breakaway off a beaut of a stretch pass from Kyle Verdino to give Seattle the lead and added an empty net goal to close the scoring. Gallimore had a nifty little seeing-eye sniper in the final two minutes of the 1st period that really seemed to change momentum and also added a sneaky little PP goal, scoring from a sharp angle off a rebound from off the end board behind the net.
  • The story of the game tonight was the Penalty Kill of the Tbirds.  The shot totals were lopsided due to the 6-3 edge the Blades had in PP chances in addition to the Birds scoring within 5 seconds on their PP chance in the 3rd period. Saskatoon came into the game converting on 24.4% of their chances while Seattle came into the game ranked dead last in the WHL, killing just 63.2%.  The 6/6 boosts the Tbirds all the way up to 20th!! and up to 72%.
  • Saskatoon's all-world D-man Duncan Siemens, who nearly made the opening day roster for the Colorado Avalanche, had no points, was -3 and got briefly pummeled by Mitch Elliot. Siemens hadn't been -3 in a game since February 3rd, 2010 when he was -3 against the Prince Albert Raiders.
  • Early in the 3rd period, Siemens, who is also the Blades Captain, stood up for teammate Ryan Olsen by taking on Mitch Elliot for a hit that Siemens didn't like.  On one hand I really commend Siemens for taking on that fight.  He's sticking up for a teammate and he isn't exactly a slouch at 6'3" and 205 lbs.  On the other hand... at the time, the Blades were down 3-1 and now they lose their Captain and arguably their best player for 5 minutes.  Tough call but sometimes those things are worth it when you have to be a leader.
  • Speaking of fighters. Jacob Doty spent more time in the box tonight (10 mins +) than he did on the ice. I shouldn't pretend to speak for Coach K or know what is going on in his head with regards to Doty... but my guess is that Doty is in the proverbial "doghouse" right now and he is going to have to change his game a little bit to get out and start making an impact.  Doty could be a very useful forechecking power forward... but right now he is spending just a little too much time focused on fights.
  • Brad Deagle and Braeden Laroque were great last night in Vancouver... not so great tonight. Overall, I'm starting to like what I see.
  • Verdino with the assist on the Noebels goal and was +2. Easy to forget that this was only his 3rd game of the season but already he has 3 points in those 3 games.
  • One thing Seattle has had for the last two seasons... is size... and it looks like they are learning to use it. Saskatoon has some pretty decent sized players and when the game got tough in the 3rd period the Blades tried to get physical with the Tbirds and Seattle just kept dumping them on their butts. That is the kind of physical presence that will pay off down the road for the Birds.
  • Blades goaltender Andrey Makarov took his first WHL loss tonight.  Makarov still boasts very good numbers at 6-1 with a 2.13 GAA and .934 Sv%
  • Calvin Pickard was up to his usual tricks stopping 43 of 45 shots to earn the win.  Pickard will no doubt lament the puck exchange behind the net that lead to the Blades 2nd goal but overall he was very good and his new trapper was in fine form.
  • The Alos-Troock-Rouse line wound up with no points on the night but had some great chemistry going and had numerous chances.  Those chances will eventually convert into points.
Quite a bit more I could probably say but I'm running out of gas here. Very tough to give out stars tonight and stars are stupid but I'll do it anyways.

Let's Go Birds 3 Stars of the Game:

1. Verdino - #2 was a rock tonight for the Birds, added a beautiful assist and was +2
2. Gallimore - His goal towards the end of the 1st period changed momentum and his PP goal in the 3rd made it very tough for the Bladed to comeback.
3. Michael Burns (Sask) - Burns had two goals for the Blades and nearly tied it.

Honorable mention - Pickard - It felt weird not giving him mention for 43 stops. Hickman - Another solid game with an assist and +2. Dave Sutter - Quiet night for Sutter but be made a couple of very fine defensive plays and he had an assist and +2 as well. Noebels - Gave Seattle the lead and the eventual icing on the cake.


Dean said...

Great recap Tyler and appreciate the twitter feeds, even if you are a several seconds ahead of the internet radio feed. Looking forward to more of the recap and twitter since we, the family, won't be attending the 20 games that we did last season.

I'm glad to hear that Sutter had a good game and sounded like he had a couple of decent chances while on offense...he was due in my opinion. Pickard being solid tonight made me miss the game even more.

Again...thnks...better than any newspaper or article around. The local papers should pay press pass!

Mr Tell13 said...

Nice write up, It was a pretty solid game from the whole team and they played with solid hockey most of the game. A few defensive errors made the game interesting, but overall the effort was there from everyone and nobody gave up. I hope this win will be a great confidence builder for the team going forward.

A few things I noticed:
Gallimore is turning into quite the leader on this team, I always had the impression that he was more of a "me" type of player, but since the beginning of the season he seems to really go team first. I think it is great, for him and the team.

Lockart getting a point last nigth is nice to see. Seems to me that he was showing sings of frustration so far this season, So to see him produce is a step in the rigth direction. You know he will work hard every shift, but you don't want him to get into a slump where he tries to hard.

Noebels is driving me nuts....He had this great goal, good passing and this awsome blocked shot, but got caught offside badly (2 feet at about one foot of the blue line ...really?!?!) and that empty net goal from the wrong side of the red line. I know people are going to say that he scored so what does it matter. But when you are playing the best team in the league
(in winning average), your team leads, and you have a open teamate across the line, just pass it. The way Lund has been working so far he certainly deserved it (althought D play needs to improve a bit, a couple of times he went for the hit on the point D and it resulted in the puck staying in the zone longer).

About Sutter, I think he plays way better than last year. I was very impressed with is way of joining the rush so far this season and not getting caught badly on the back end. I
think that we tend to forget that he has a total 77 games in the WHL and is used in all situations against the top 2 lines of any opposing team. For the sake of comparison, Sutter is now in 6 games +2 and has 4 pts. Put that against Laroque who is -5, played with Sutter the first few games here and has 1 goal. Is that great for a 19 y/o that has 125 games played at this level?

Last thing is that some choices are going to be needed at the trade deadline or before with the return of Jacobs. We can't just keep all theses 19 y/o and I think Lund is really starting to set himself apart for a job next year. Its going to be interesting how the coaching staff will use the players going forward.

Lat note, Brendan Dillon is the leading scorer of the Texas Stars with 4 pts in 4 games. Compare that to Thomas Hickey that has 1 pts in 4 games. Interesting how it put things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

Great game Saturday, it is a shame only 4,300 people attended, I am sure as the season goes along, the crowds will get bigger. I am glad there was no letdown after the Vancouver victory on the road, three in row, let's make it 4 in row and beat Brandon on two for Tuesday night! Hopefully there will be a decent week night crowd.

Anonymous said...

Crowds always get bigger after the holidays. I was actually surprised at the number for Saturday!

Anonymous said...

If Dziurzynski playes Tuesday night, expect fireworks. I'm sure he'll be looking to impress with the new team.

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