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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Game one down, 98 to go

The Birds are on pace for a 99-0 season (7 preseason games, 72-0 regular season, 16-0 playoff run, 4-0 memorial cup champions).

I love these games in the Everett preseason tournament.  They listed the official attendance on the scoresheet as zero (0, nil, blank, no one).  And that is pretty close to what it really is for the Friday game. But what I really love about that is I can sit anywhere I want, and get different views on the game.
First period, I always sit behind the bench a couple rows back, so I can see how the coaches and players communicate with each other, react to things, teach, etc.
The second period, I sat across from the benches.  This gives the same sort of view, except not staring at the players backs.
The third period I watched from high up to see the entire action.

I was very curious with two new coached how the interaction would be.
The first thing I noticed is the Coach K was very vocal to everyone.  Walking up and down the bench, giving orders, giving feedback, etc.  His first couple of years I watched him, he was very quiet and non animated.
Assistant Coach Matt O'Dette handled the defenders (of course, that is what he was hired to do).  He is less vocal and animated then former coach Rumble was, but he did talk to each defender rather often.
Then there was Tyler Alos.  This is the one that interested me the most, to see how it would work for a former player the same age as the current players.  Tyler had a great view of the game, and spent more time talking to trainer Phil then the players.  Ok, just kidding, Tyler was quiet, learning the ropes, patting the players on the back and heads after shifts and goals, listening to Coach K, and at times gave one on one feedback to players.

My thoughts on the actual game

If you like tight checking, physically grinding, in your face defense, well, then this game was a bore to you.
Despite the shot totals, I thought Seattle spent a lot more time controlling play then Tri did.

Goaltending could easily have been the story line for this one.
Logan Flodell had a very impressive game.  I have said it before, but I leave judging how a goalie did to Tyler, but I thought Logan looked very good.
Comrie was the type of goalie he is (great), and if not for him, Seattle easily would have been up instead of tied at the half way point when the goalie switch happened.
Trombley took Comrie's place, and also looked good.
Really, I am not sure you could fault any of the goals in this game on the goaltenders.

This is going to sound funny, but honestly, I thought all Seattle forwards had a very good game.  Top to bottom, the lines rolled, the players went, skated hard, backchecked well, made good passes, and got scoring chances.  Sure, at times, they went to the wrong places, missed assignments, etc, but I really thought they played well.

On defense, you could find a lot more issues (but then again, this could be said about all teams all preseason).  I thought Forsberg really struggled this game.  He seemed to be fighting the puck a lot, and overall, it just didn't work for him on the ice.  Wolf, Douglas, and Bear all had times of greatness followed by times sheer terror (ok, not that bad).

Speaking of struggling, Seattle was whiffing on quite a few passes and shots all game.  Maybe the puck was sticking, maybe the sticks were pucking, just quite a few times the players went to pass, but the puck didn't go anywhere.

The line of Holub, Elliot, and Folk had the most success, and I thought was the best overall line Seattle had.  Two goals for this line, but it was the little things.  The work along the boards, the getting back on defense, the physical nature of the game.
To me, this is what a really good third line is going to be on this team.  Go out for some big hits, energy, hard work, and any scoring you can get is bonus.
Michal Holub was probably my pick for best player of the game (non-goalie).  Every time he hit the ice, he was flying, hitting, back checking, and getting rewarded.  Great to see this out of him (and his dad was a little happy also).

But as I said up above, I really thought all of Seattle's forwards played great.
The two 15 year olds playing in their first WHL games fit in nicely.
And Scott Eansor continued to impress me with his skill and hard work.

Delnov and Lipsberg were already giving up their bodies to block shots.  I just didn't like the way they were throwing, or maybe I should say sliding, in front of the shots.  Looked like it could really have hurt.

I know teams haven't practice special teams much, but the last three power plays, big Mitch Elliot went right to the front of the net. Good to finally see the team use one of it's big, big, big players to create trouble on there.

Barzal's goal was an amazing thing of beauty.  But, his first goal should have come one period earlier when Comrie robbed him.  Barzal was behind the net, and looked to be bringing the puck up the half wall, but instead made a very hard pivot toward the front of the net and let a shot go labelled for the upper corner.

Other thoughts in general 

  • Mitch Elliot is tied for the team lead in points (sorry, just a little jab at all the people that made fun of me earlier about him) <g>
  • Tri Cities has some very good young talent also.  Comrie's younger brother and Toppings younger brother both looked very good out there.
  • Lucas Nickles for Tri played a very physical game, and looked like he was ready to drop the gloves any time.  I was kind of surprised he and Carter Folk didn't have a go towards the end of the 3rd.
  • I thought the officiating was very good this game (and really, the other games of the day).  They let them play, called the ones they needed to, and didn't turn it into a special teams practice.
  • Portland's experienced vets destroyed Spokane's rookies.  This from the amazing Alan Caldwell "Portland dressed 8 rookies & 13 players aged 18 or older to Spokane's 16 rookies and 6 players 18 or older".  Petan and Liepsic looked amazing shredding apart a Spokane defense that consisted of two 15's, 2 16's, 1 17, and 1 18, 5 of which were rookies.
  • The night cap game was a good tilt between Everett and Victoria.  Love those Victoria Royals jersey's.  This game was the most physical game, and included a couple fights (well, not good fights, but fights).

1 comment :

4thebirds said...

For those of us who couldn't be at the games, thanks for the write up. Hope you can keep them coming.
Any info on who and when the boys will be leaving for NHL camps?

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