- Portland was flying out of the gate on Saturday night. I felt like the Winterhawks were extra motivated to kick our asses on Teddy Bear Toss night and they really came out strong. To me... the game action was less about Seattle not playing well or not playing hard and more about the Grand Canyon-esque gap in talent between Seattle and Portland. Portland just took it to the Tbirds like they were on another level. After Seattle fell down 3-0 early in the 1st period, I was actually pretty concerned about whether the Tbirds would score a goal at all. Fortunately, Portland gets easily distracted, and for as talented of a team as they are, they are not the most consistent in the league. Connor Honey was able to pick up his memorable first WHL goal and the bears went flying.
- The outcome probably wouldn't have been different, but the game definitely turned on the 2nd period Embellishment call on Colin Jacobs. Jacobs broke in behind the defense for a chance to give Seattle a 3rd goal and make the score 4-3 and was hauled down from behind. It arguably could have been called a Penalty Shot but it should have at least resulted in a Seattle Power Play. Instead, Referees Colby Smith and Trevor Hanson call William Wrenn for Holding and Jacobs for Embellishment. Portland scores twice on the ensuing 4 on 4 and the game was pretty much over. I know the league offices think that complaints about officiating get tiresome and they generally don't listen to fans when they complain about the officials... but I can tell you that the officiating is down this year from previous years. The WHL is a development league for players AND referees and every fan should keep that in mind. The quality of the officials is also bound to ebb and flow as veteran officials move up the ranks and younger, less experienced officials make their way into the league. This isn't a bash on officials as a whole. I ref'd my first ever game on Saturday afternoon at ShoWare and I can tell you that it is far from easy. Having said that, my opinion is that officiating is noticeably down this year. Too often, the penalty calling has been poor and inconsistent. I have no doubts that it will improve as the current crop of officials gain more experience, but for now it is below par. Remember when everyone used to bash Andy Thiessen? Well he eventually wound up being one of the best officials in the league and graduated to the AHL. I think the officiating is bad right now, but I have faith that it will improve.
- Once again our best line on Saturday was the Hickman - Alos - Lund line combination. Honey and Rouse also finished the night with ratings of +1.
- Nice to see Marcel Noebels actually hustling up and down the ice. Good thing we got Swenson and two 1st round picks. I guess Noebels is enjoying playing for Portland a little more than he was enjoying playing for Seattle.
- Last night, Seattle suffered through a bad 2nd period and it led to their 4-3 loss to the Kelowna Rockets. Kelowna managed 21 shots in the 2nd period on their way to 4 goals, capped by a beautiful goal by Brett Lyon with just 4 seconds to play in the period.
- The biggest difference in the game is a problem that has started to magnify recently. The Seattle PP now ranks 21st in the league at 14.2%. Prince George is last at 11.5%. The Penalty Kill has been slightly better but still ranks just 17th in the WHL. Special teams certainly wouldn't solve all of the Tbirds issues but it certainly isn't helping things right now.
Also, a reminder to donate to the RMH in my honor. It takes only a few minutes and your donation will be going to a very worth cause. Thanks.