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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Seattle drops to 3-1

Yes, I was away for the weekend and Jon did his best to cover things in my absence.

I'm catching the replay of the Portland game and had a few thoughts I would share.

  • Early in the game, the effort by Seattle was there... the intelligent play wasn't. Some really undisciplined play that resulted in penalties by the Tbirds. It didn't hurt them initially but as the period wore on, it did. Shea Theodore doesn't play the body on the first goal and he combined with Connor Honey fail to back check and it results in a goal. On the second goal, someone (I believe Forsberg but could have been Smith) then misses on a PP pinch at the side boards that results in a shorthanded goal.
  • Todd Vrooman and Andy Kemper seem like nice guys. I really don't have an ax to grind here but listening to them call games is very difficult.  They display very little objectivity and complain about nearly every single call that doesn't go the way of the Winterhawks. It reminds me that we're actually very lucky to have a guy like Thom Buening working our games. I think Thom is very even handed in his commentary.  It would be unfair for me to simply give this opinion (criticism) without offering at least a little bit of evidence... so here you go. 2nd period, Portland up 2-0 and Wardley throws this hit on Ethan Price:

The hit results in this:

It's a shoulder to shoulder check that Wardley wins and results in Price going face first into the boards. An unfortunate result for Price... to say the least... but also a very legal and clean check. I also have no problem with Seven Alldridge going after Wardley and sticking up for his teammate... stick tap to him for that.

Here is my problem and I will quote precisely. Vrooman's comment was "Pretty heavy hit in the corner, borderline, could have gone either way in my opinion on a call, but Steven Alldridge seeing the hit came to the defense of Ethan Price... It was shoulder to shoulder, give Wardley the benefit of the doubt on that one... fairly clean hit."

Yes... a shoulder to shoulder hit is usually considered a "fairly" clean hit. 

I'll repeat again, I have no ax to grind here and I'm not cherry picking this one situation. This happens all game long. It makes it very difficult to listen to Seattle games when they are down in Portland. I'm not going to make a habit of complaining about this. It's not hockey related, it isn't that important and I can guarantee that Vrooman and Kemper don't care what I think.
  • Hopefully these games don't become a habit last season but I'm seeing a lot of the bad habits returning from the previous seasons. Guys that just aren't taking that extra amount of pride to ensure that a scoring chance isn't there for the other team. It's a combination of pride and attention to detail. Coaches will call it the "little things". Little things turn into big things and they also generally turn into goals into your own net.
  • 2 periods into watching this replay and I'm finding it hard to blame Mumaugh for any of this mess.
  • A summary of the night in one picture.  This is about as poor of a pinch decision as you're going to see in major junior hockey. Theodore is several steps from De Champlain and goes for a half-hearted pinch and the pass gets chipped to Chase De Leo who goes in on a 2 on 1 takes a shot and Oliver Bjorkstrand cleans up the rebound for an easy goal. A terrible decision and these things will just bury you against a team like Portland. I realize the score was already 7-0 at this point but I don't really care, you still can't do that stuff.

Overall, a pretty ugly effort from Seattle and Portland came out firing and with something to prove after getting beat pretty badly by Tri-City earlier in the week.  Let's hope this is just a bump in the road and isn't something that is going to become a habit.


A huge congrats to a TBird employee

Some of you may have noticed Tyler wasn't in attendance last night.

This is because some fool decided a weekend during hockey season was the best time to get married.  And in Spokane even.  No true hockey fan would let his bride pick a weekend like this for their big day.  What makes it even worse, is he is an employee of the Birds.  And Tyler gets to give a best man's speech in front of 300 people.

I stole this picture from Facebook of the wedding rehearsal last night.

Sean found the perfect female for him, and well, she had to settle for Sean <g>.

But to be serious for once, I couldn't be happier for these two.  They are a great couple, great friends, but most of all, great people that deserve each other.

Congratulation Sean and soon to be Elizabeth Runnels 

Make that 3 and 0

With 6 points, your TBirds are the #1 seed in the Western Conference.
That's home ice all the way to the Championship.
Spokane has the same record, but I guess we get first because, well because, SE comes before SP.

Last nights game

As you know, I started the season questioning the character of the team after those two losses to Everett.
Last night, the team showed me character.
Answering back twice after Tri scored.
Not getting down because of the penalty kills.
Not folding up and sending it in when Tri came on strong.

And speaking of character.
For the third straight game, no one was wearing the "C".
One would assume that means Hickman will get it starting tonight, but that is a huge assumption, just because he hasn't played in the three games.

This team has still not played their best hockey yet.  They have not strung together 60 full minutes.
The last ten minutes they went into some sort of defensive trap / shell.
Why oh why oh why.
They almost got away with it, but finally it caught up with them with a bad clearing attempt over the glass results in a penalty.

There were stretches of the game where players stopped working hard.
Either Lipsberg and Holub got hurt, or got benched starting in the 2nd period.
I suspect benched because both had 1 shift very late in the game, after sitting most of the period.
I actually thought Holub had a good first period, but maybe coach didn't think that.
Lipsberg I didn't notice much in the first.  However, he does get the shootout winner, so maybe made up for it a little.
Coach has once again shown he is not afraid to sit guys if they are not playing the system.  It must be nice for him to actually have the depth to do this.  You don't buy into the system, you will be replaced by someone that will.

Bullet notes from the game

  • Theodore made his return tonight, showed the skating and puck handling that he had last season.
  • Once again, Troock looked a beast out there.  His line could easily be the top line in the Western conference they way they are playing
  • I thought Tri was really trying to stretch the Birds out, two or three times hitting on homerun passes to break a skater in behind the defense.
  • Huge hard shot by Honey on his goal.  My guess is Comrie would want it back.
  • Speaking of Comrie, I thought he was fighting the puck all night, leaving rebounds where he normally doesn't.  But in the shootout, he was all calm.
  • And speaking of another goaltender, how about Myles for Seattle in the shootout.  Stops three of five.  Oh yeah, crossbar stopped two of two.  But he is very smooth, forcing the shooter to make the first move.  It appeared towards the end, Tri caught on to the fact he wasnt coming out of the net, and started going high quick shots instead of making moves.
  • Foulk and Honey both left the second period at the 10 minute mark with Trainer Phil.  Honey came back 2 minutes later.  Foulk not until 2 minutes to go in the period.
  • Tough break for Ethen Bear on Williams goal.  Losses his stick, then doesnt take Delnov's, and I think the puck went off him to a wide open Williams.
  • What a move by Swenson on his goal.  Dips back and forth around two defenders, amazing flip pass to Barzal, and gets the rebound and puts in a really tough angle backhand over everyone.
  • Those two shots off the post in the shootout by Tri were two of the harder crossbar shots I have seen in a while.
  • Forsberg took warm ups, but of course did not play.

Tonight will be another great test early in the season.
Portland has struggled in their last two games.
They have given up 10 goals in those games.
Leipsec will be sitting out for a three game suspension.
The way the Birds are playing, they have made it very difficult for me not to take the drive down to PDX and watch.  But with 5 cm (like that Canadian readers) of rain expected today, the Husky game on TV, the fact I went to Vancouver on Wednesday, I am 99% sure I am staying home and watching on the big screen.


Jon's review of last nights game

Man do I love road trips like last night.  Sure makes the drive home so nice.
First 10 minutes were not good for Seattle.
But once they got that taken care of, it was complete domination from there on.
I would estimate Vancouver had 3 scoring chances the entire game.

Thanks to a very nice friend of ours, she won a prize of 4 tickets to the Red Rock Lounge.
So we sat front row, directly behind the goal judge at the end Seattle shoots at twice.
Very nice view.

As I mentioned, the first 10 minutes Seattle couldn't put any passes together.
So things looked really sloppy, choppy, and no flow.
But then something clicked, and Seattle started connecting on passes, skating, checking, and took control.
The rest of the game was basically all Seattle.

I personally thought the best line of Seattle's didn't even appear on the scoresheet (except penalties).
The Holub, Benoit, and Kolesar (I think that was other winger) line provided so much energy every time they hit the ice.  They got some good scoring chances also.

Because of Seattle's hustle and forecheck, Vancouver could never really get going.
They had no room to pass or skate, and any time they did, the defenders kept them so far to the outside, the shots were somewhat easy saves.
I will say that I thought Mumaugh was still a little wild in net, kind of flopping around.  But, it worked, he got the shutout, and congrats to him on that one.
The first 10 minutes he had to be good to keep the team in it, and he was up to the challenge.

There was a first period goal by Seattle that was waved off.  I was 5 feet away, and the goalies glove nailed the water bottle.  I cant see how that puck was not across the line.
Tyler has shown me screenshots of the video that make it appear very close.
But this is what I am going to say (and Tyler disagrees with me).
The call on the ice was goal, so you need definitive proof to overturn it.  And what I have seen, you can not be 100% sure.  So how do you overturn any call (even if you think it wasnt a goal).
But, even if you are going to overturn the call, the faceoff was dropped outside to Vancouver zone.  If the play is dead when the puck goes in the net, and the goal is overturned, then why is Seattle penalized by having the faceoff moved out.

A few bullet notes

  • First goal by Honey was a snipers goal.  He picked the upper corner, and so hard a shot.
  • Delnov's goal was all created by Troock knocking the puck out of mid air, and controlling it.  The puck he pulled down I dont even think it was supposed to go to him.
  • The middle goals by Seattle were shots into wide open nets, off rebounds, or strange bounces.
  • Swenson's goal was almost a thing of beauty, as he swung at a puck in mid air, and tried to baseball swing it in.  He missed, and got the second change, and put it in.
  • Jared Hauf with a massive game.  A +4 on the scoresheet backed that up.
  • Ethan Bear again looked very strong.  Working the powerplay, being very calm under pressure, and not afraid to shoot the puck.
  • The penalty kill when Seattle was down 2 men, then when they were only down one man.  I'm not sure Vancouver even got a good shot.
  • I have been very critical of Troock, and I will be the first to admit he is playing so well.  The fight was great to see, standing up for a teammate that was dumped in front of the net.  He deserved the instigator, but at that point in the game, it was worth it.
  • Everyone will be happy to know that Barzal didn't get thrown out of the faceoffs as much as the first game.
  • Erik Benoit looked a lot better and fitting in more then he did game one.
  • Former Thunderbird Ryan Gibbons was a linesmen last night, and lets just say he started Movember in September.
  • Luke Lockhart stopped by the game last night, was great seeing him there.
  • So many parents were in attendance, wonderful chatting it up with them
  • Speaking of parents, if Kevin Wolf's father is reading this, I have a question on Minnesota hockey, so please email me.
  • Smallest crowd I have seen in a game up there.  They say 4000, and that is about right.
  • The game was on Shaw, but wasn't delayed at all because of that.
  • GM Farwell was interviewed during the 2nd intermission on Shaw.  I couldn't hear what they were asking, but would have loved to.
  • The border was so easy.

One funny story, on the way up, we stopped by the duty free store.  One passenger purchased jolly rancher candy, chocolate candy, and a bottle of water.  When you purchase alcohol, you get in your car, drive to a window, and pick it up.  We had to do that for candy and water.  It was so strange, and seemed so useless.


Off to Vancouver

4 of us are headed up to the game tonight in Vancouver.
Unfortunately for Tyler, he is not one of them.
I will have my thoughts tomorrow morning on the first road game of the year.

In other news, last night, Tri Cities beat Portland 6-2.  Sunday night, Prince George beat Tri Cities 2-1.  Friday night, Portland beat PG 9-2.  So now I am really confused over who is better then the next.
Why do I mention this, well, Tri and Portland are Seattle's next two opponents after tonight.


1-0, Same Start as Last Year (oh wait)

Last year Seattle started the season with a 5-2 win in Portland and we all know that last season turned out so well that the team decided they should probably start the season 1-0 with a win over Portland again.

Obviously... I'm joking. The Tbirds get off to a nice start to the season by picking up a 4-3 shootout win over the Portland Winterhawks. The Hawks were coming off a 9 goal performance on opening night against the Prince George Cougars and many of you/us had to wonder whether we would see much of the same Saturday night at the Sho'. But Seattle played a stout defensive game and came out very strong in the first period to give themselves an early lead.

I saw some very good things and some things that will need some work. On to the bullet holes.

  • Seattle's start was exactly what they needed. I immediately noticed a higher level of crisp passing and they were able to generate chances and sustain pressure in the Portland zone. My fears about being able to break the puck out didn't materialize early in the game.  Brendan Burke made 15 first period saves for the Winterhawks and if it weren't for him the score probably could have been 2 or 3-0.
  • One of my keys to the season is the performance of Jared Hauf and as such I spent much of the game focusing my attention on his play whenever he was on the ice. His play along the wall to keep the puck in led to the first goal and it was a nice way for him to start the season.  I would still like to see Hauf make more of an impact at the offensive end of the ice and I'd like to see him be more physical but I thought he played a solid game and I only counted one real "minus" on the hooking call he took in the 3rd period. His long reach makes him very difficult to skate around for many forwards and I think he is getting better at playing a simple, solid, straightforward defensive game.  The problem is... when you aren't really chipping in very much on the offensive end, it puts a lot of pressure on a player to play flawlessly in their own zone. So far so good from what I saw, especially when I thought Smith had some moments that left Hauf alone to cover for him.
  • I sent out a tweet early in the game about Griffin Foulk and his offensive zone pinches. I was picking on him at the time because it was bad and created an odd man break for Portland but this really goes towards the entire defensive crew. When people talk about playing a "simple" game (as I mentioned above with Hauf) this is what I think about first. Pinches are tempting and they must be done to keep up the offensive zone pressure - BUT - you better not miss. Seattle simple cannot afford to give up too many odd man rushes in any situation but especially one where you have an unproven goaltender.
  • Speaking of which... let's talk about Justin Myles. I really liked what I saw. He's very fluid and never seems to get rattled or overly excited. The first two Portland goals were not his fault with the first being a fluky (but good) shot off the face-off from Ethan Price and the second goal being a tap-in by Oliver Bjorkstrand off a beautiful feed from Nic Petan. The 3rd goal I have a bit of an issue with despite the fact that Jarret Smith was trailing De Leo and arguably shouldn't have been able to get to a rebound. It was a shot Myles probably wanted back and obviously came at a bit of a bad time leading by a goal with under 8 minutes to play.  However, all's well that ends well as he stopped 2 of 3 in the shootout for the win.
  • Erik Benoit and Ethan Bear were running the point on the first power play. Obviously, that changes when Shea Theodore returns but it will be interesting to see if Bear continues to get PP minutes. He seemed to hold his own and also logged minutes shorthanded. That's pretty impressive for a 16 year old playing in just his 2nd game against the defending WHL champions.
  • Mike Campbell is a really poor official and needs a new profession. (My editor insisted on this being in Bold)
  • Seth Swenson hammered one off the post and Riley Sheen made a great move only to be denied by Burke. Seattle could have easily had one or two more goals.
  • Mathew Barzal looked [a little bit] like a 16 year old in his first WHL game but managed to get his first point after taking a smart rebound shot in the second period. He was the first out of the bench for the shootout and lost the puck before recovering and beating Burke with a backhand after what seemed like about 14 handles.  We have yet to see the best from Barzal... I doubt we will have to wait very long.
  • Last note. Branden Troock was held off the scoresheet and was a -1 for the night but I really liked what I saw. Especially the part where he was throwing his body around and finishing checks. I realize he has been hurt several times but I truly believe that if you're going to play this game the right way you have to play without fear and it certainly looked to me like Troock had no fear of getting himself re-injured. It was a great sign and if he keeps finishing checks like that... the points are going to come in bunches.
That's all I have for now. 1-0... whatttttyaknow. Let's hope this is the start of some great things for this team and the fans.


Game One, Game Day

Based on last nights opening day results, we now know what not to do against Portland.
That would be to stay out of the box.

Last night, in Portland, the Winterhawks went 5 for 8 on the powerplay.

The Thunderbirds Foundation has guaranteed the 50-50 to be at least $2000.  That is a nice sum of money to be winning.  In 21 years of watching this team, I have NEVER won anything, so I don't bother buying tickets for it at all.  But with amounts like that, I might have to start again.

Hope to see a lot of you tonight.


Jon and Tyler Chat about Predictions

Tyler Hunnex: Well Jon, we’re just a few days away from one of our favorite days of the year, Opening Night. This year the Tbirds get to start the campaign with our hated rivals the Portland Cheats Sucks Winterhawks.  Before we get into expectations and predictions for the season, tell me what you expect out of opening night. As I’m writing this, Shea Theodore is still with the Anaheim Ducks and while he might be sent back in time for the opener, is appears as though he might remain with the Ducks for the weekend. It also appears that the team may be without 20 year old Mitch Elliot who was sent by the Vancouver Canucks to Utica to attend their AHL training camp.  After two straight losses to the Everett Silvertips to close out the preseason, what are you expecting to see on Saturday night?

Jon Whiting: It is actually my second favorite day of the year (first being first day of training camp).  After the way this team played last weekend, I am very worried about Saturday night.  Hickman will be out with a suspension, and Hauf will be back.  Assuming Forsberg is still out, and Thoedore's plane cant land in time, Seattle will still be missing those two.  Last Saturday night, I really wanted to see how the team responded after being dominated Friday night.  Instead of seeing character, fight, determination, I saw a team that played even worse.  Portland will still be missing some of their top guys (As of right now, Bjorkstrand, Leier, Leipsic, and Pouliot), but it wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of these guys get returned today or tomorrow.  So what I hope I see and expect to see are probably two different things.  I really hope Seattle learned from last weekend and comes out with energy, determination and passion. I hope it doesn't let Portland get under their skin, gets strong goaltending and skates to a big win in front of a huge crowd.  That’s what I hope happens.  Until this team can show me it has that fire in it, I expect Portland to want to show Seattle they are still the top team, to cause Seattle to take some undisciplined penalties, score a couple power play goals, then watch Seattle come unglued and maybe a couple really good fights.  So the biggest question I see going into Sunday night is first in line for Seattle to skate out for warm-ups (always the starting goaltender).  Any guesses?

TH: Devon Fordyce.  The goaltending situation seems to be incredible fluid right now but I don’t think you would have bothered to keep Fordyce if you weren't going to give him the first opportunity to be the starting goaltender. I think both Justin Myles and Danny Mumaugh have played well lately but I don’t think either of them has played well enough to earn the top spot.  Myles is certainly one to watch though. Management has always been very high on him and we really haven’t had a chance to see him play very much due to his injuries. At 6’2” he has a very big frame and he moves pretty well in net. The defense is a much bigger concern in my mind. Getting Jared Hauf back helps but without Theodore I have a feeling that you’ll see the time struggle to move the puck out of their own end as we saw in the games that he missed.  (EDIT: Jon and I started this earlier in the week and Coach K has since announced on the Ian Furness show that Justin Myles would be the starter and Danny Mumaugh would back up. I guess I whiffed on this one. I easily could have just taken this out or changed it but this was my true response at the time.)

JW: I completely agree with the struggling to move the puck out of the zone.  This has been an issue for the last few years.  I think they are expecting Foulk to set up and start rushes somewhat like Theodore does.  Not having this certainly puts emphasis on the forwards winning battles, back checking, and being able to skate the puck out when needed.  The first couple preseason games they did this very well.  The last couple of games, not so well.  When they can move the puck out well and find a forward that is moving, that is when this set of forwards will really be able to show their strength.  So back to the goaltending, if they are going with Fordyce, in the 7 preseason games, he played a huge total of 97 minutes, over a game and a half.  His last action came when he played the first half of the September 7th game against Portland.  If I continue to do the math correctly, that means he will not have seen game action for 14 days before Saturday night.  Any concern from you that they are kind of just throwing him out there with no real tune-up?

TH: Not really. He’s been practicing with the team all along and has seen plenty of shots, that doesn't concern me too much. Of course… since we started this, Coach K has stated that Myles will be the starter and Mumaugh will back him up. So the question has turned from concern over Fordyce to what Myles will do with this opportunity.  I was polled yesterday for the U.S. Division by Portland writer Scott Sepich and my order went: 1. Portland 2. Spokane 3. Seattle 4. Everett 5. Tri-City. Placing Seattle ahead of Everett is probably more based on hope than true analysis but I think the two teams are close enough that things could really break either way. How are you ranking the division? And… what do you say the chances are that someone beats Portland for the division, 10%? 20%?

JW:  The only way someone beats Portland for the title is if Portland's defense and goaltending let them down quite a bit.  And, really, I could see that happening about as much as someone offering to watch both my son's so I could have a vacation with my wife.  For me, you have the division the same I would say.  BUT, for 2nd through 5th, I really think you could find an eight sided dice, put each team on two sides, roll it for the order of finish, then do it another 999 times, come up with the most common order, and I would say ok.  If you told me Seattle would finish 2nd, I would be really happy, and agree with you.  If you told me Seattle struggles and finishes 5th, I would be really unhappy, but I would say I could see that happening.  Hoping to help that 2nd place finish, Seattle claimed 20 year old Erik Benoit off waivers.  Does this close the book on Elliot, or maybe Forsberg is hurt more then we think, or maybe Benoit is a fill in until they can figure out what to do?

TH: I don’t think it completely closes the door on Elliot but it does lead me to believe that they feel like he is going to sign a deal and stay with Utica. Obviously, you could have Elliot return and then make a decision between the 4 players you have left but it seems like he has made enough of an impression on the Canucks organization that they are inclined to keep him. Predictions are always difficult and nearly impossible but they are always fun, so let’s make a few.

Tbirds finish 3rd in the U.S. Division, 5th in the Western Conference and open on the road against Spokane.

Leading scorer: Lipsbergs – 35 goals

Barzal points: 68 (and also leads the team in points)

Goalie to play the most games: Justin Myles, 46 games

Number of NHL Games played by Shea Theodore: 0

Points by Theodore: 57

Playoff finish: Seattle beats Spokane in 6, loses to Kelowna in 7 in a rematch of the 2013 playoff series.
Your turn.

JW:  I will match your prediction format

Tbirds finish 3rd in the U.S. Division, 5th in the Western Conference and open on the road against 
Victoria (and an amazing road trip I may add).

Leading scorer: Delnov – 40 goals (Almost went completely out on a limb, and said Troock with 40)

Barzal points: 81 (and also leads the team in points)

Goalie to play the most games: Justin Myles, 38 games

Number of NHL Games played by Shea Theodore: 0

Points by Theodore: 72

Playoff finish: Seattle beats Victoria in 5, loses to Portland in 6, after pushing them very hard.

TH: I hope everyone is still excited about the season, even though we just told you exactly what will happen. It should be a good one.


Radio interview with Coach K - Starting goaltender revealed

Ian Furness from KJR-AM 950 in Seattle recorded a 13 minute interview with coach yesterday.
The podcast is up at this link

Talks about all parts of the game, forwards, defense, goaltending, Elliot, Barzal, Theodore.

Great listen.


Seattle Claims Erik Benoit

Announced on twitter just a moment ago:

This will help Seattle immediately with Mitch Elliot still at AHL camp and also helps give the Tbirds some much needed help up the middle. This of course assumes that he actually can play up the middle. He's listed on the WHL website and Elite Prospects as a LW. We'll have to wait and see.

Benoit played half of his season in Kootenay last year and the last half in Saskatoon and made a trip to the Memorial Cup with the Blades.

In 64 total games he posted 12 goals and 24 assists with a + 3 rating.

In 4 games in the Memorial Cup he finished with 2 assists.

EDIT: He also played in the 2011 Memorial Cup with Kootenay and had a goal in 5 games. So they're getting a guy with a lot of big time experience.

This isn't a high impact move... but I like it... it's a good move to help an area that needed help.

Seattle player updates according to the WHL website

From the WHL website's "Weekly Report"
Dated September 17th.

#5 Jesse Forsberg, D, upper body, day-to-day

#9 Justin Hickman, F, 3 games remaining

Hauf returned to Seattle

The Flyers released defenseman Jared Hauf to his junior team, the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.

Note sure how I missed this one, since I guess it happened Sunday.
But good news for Seattle either way.

Elliot gets invited to Canucks AHL team camp

It was announced last night by the Vancouver Canucks that they had reduced their preseason roster.
One of those involved was Mitch Elliot.

Instead of releasing him back to Seattle, he has been invited to attend the Utica Comets training camp.
I'm told that the first part of the this training camp actually happens in Vancouver.
The first action for them in a game is this Sunday in Abbosford, CB, against the Heat.


TBirds on Shaw TV

The WHL broadcasts on Shaw television schedule was just released.
Seattle will appear on it only once.
It happens to be a week from Wednesday, September 25th, in Vancouver.
Not surprising since it is a Canada broadcast, and only originate games from Canada.

And, Seattle can't feel sad about only appearing once, since Everett, Tri City, and Spokane are also on their once.  Portland did get two games.

Now the funny thing comes in there press release about it

"On the following Wednesday, September 25, the WHL on SHAW will feature the Seattle Thunderbirds visiting the Vancouver Giants where the first overall WHL Bantam Draft Pick from 2012, Mathew Barzal, will make his WHL regular season debut as a member of the Thunderbirds."

So, I guess that means Barzal will be a scratch on Saturday at home in the Show.


My views of last nights game


First off let me preference this by saying I had both my boys (ages 6 and 10) with me.  Anyone who knows me can tell you where my attention was at.  So really, I only could pay attention to the game out of one eye.

But, I thought Seattle got totally outworked, out hustled, and out played.

The first 10 minutes of the game was all Everett.  Then something happened, and Seattle took over.  This is the type of team we can see.  They controlled play, great passes, great shots, and it showed with two goals. Barzal's goal was a direct example of this.Hickman drives wide, moving his feet and holding off the defender. Barzal goes very hard to the net with a defender draped all over him, and gets the feed and a nice redirection (snap shot).

Unfortunately for Seattle, the second period was like the first 10 minutes of the game.  All Everett.  Seattle decided to stop skating, stop hitting, and stop fighting (except for Folk, who actually did fight).  Far too many times the puck goes into the corner, and the defender gets there, losses the one on one battle.  There was twice I could remember where Seattle's entire line was stuck on the ice for probably 90 seconds or more, because Everett just plain controlled play.  Seattle was outshot 18-5 in the period.  UGLY.

Third period was actually even for the first while, then Seattle decided that it was time to actually try.  But, a little too late after digging a big hole in the second.  I know, I know, the score was 5-4.  But too bad.  Can't show up for the last 10 minutes of the game and expect to win.  Also, if Everett could hit a wide open net on a couple plays, it could easily have been 7-3 (but, I guess Seattle missed a couple also, so maybe 7-5 <g>).

I know people are going to think I am crazy for this, but I actually do feel Mumaugh played a very good game.  Not a great game, but a good one.  Of the 5 goals, I think there was really only one he should have had, and you could tell based on his reaction of skating over into the corner that he knew that.  The other goals were Everett out working Seattle players, getting in very close for a great shot, or gathering a rebound. There was a couple saves that were scramble amazing ones that showed how good he can be. I talked to a couple people that completely disagreed with me on his performance.

Now, as Tyler pointed out after the game to me while I was texting him the results.  Seattle did put forth the effort to mount a come back.  They did not just fold up after the second.  And I will give them credit for that.  That is a sign of character.  Too me, the real sign of character will be how they come out tonight.  Show Everett that was a fluke, and that the Showare is Seattle's barn, play hard, hit hard, etc, and we will see character.

A couple notes:

  • Nice fight between Folk and Aasman.  Both wanted to go after Aasman took a couple slashes.  Decision Folk at center ice
  • Long second period intermission, and also a break in the second for the linemen.  Second intermission was long because a substitute linesmen had to be brought into the game.  I have been told that the regular one got hurt somehow, kind of bad also.  It must have happened at a time when I was making sure I didn't hurt one of my kids for how they were behaving, because I saw nothing.
  • A couple really nice single handed goals both both teams.  Lipsberg's shot was a rocket, and I think it was Zipp for Everett with theirs that I was impressed with
  • Someone should let Jerret Smith know his jock strap is on the ice about the left faceoff dot in Seattle's zone they defend once.  A lucky bounce caught him in a very bad position.  A 2-1 forming, and he couldn't decide if he should step up and take the player like he was going to when it was a 1-1, or play the defense position and stop the 2-1.  I thought he made the right choice of trying to take the player with the puck coming right at him.  But, the player sidestepped the check, walked around him, and scored.
  • However, I thought Smith played a very good game.  He is listed as a -1 on the scoresheet, but a couple of those were not his fault at all, with one coming on a bad line change where he was skating hard to get back into the play.
  • Wolf also impressed me a lot last night.  Making the smart play, and also was one of the defenders that was winning battle most of the night.
  • Poor Dustin Penner for Everett (oh wait, correction, Linden Penner).  He gets called for an offsetting roughing call at 6:53 of the second period.  Serves that, comes out of the box, and Everett gets called for too many men 10 seconds later.  Constantine has him serve that penalty.  So sit for 2, out for 10 seconds, back in for 2.
  • You will not see or hear me say this often, but Constantine does have Everett playing a very good style of hockey.  They are the most hardworking team I have seen so far in the preseason.  That should not come as a surprise to anyone knowing the type of coach he is.
  • Seattle was missing Forsberg (injury), Sheen (injury), Hauf (NHL camp I think, since I have not seen anything on him being returned), Theodore (NHL camp), and Elliot (NHL camp)
  • The Everett fans were in mid-season form with the cowbells, the "And they still suck", and my personal favorite "fight" during the national anthem.  Anyone know who that disrespectful fan is that started yelling "Watched" at the next of the next line (hint, hint, hint, its me).
Thats all I got for right now.  Hope to see you all out there tonight.  I SHOULD be without kids, so I can be more social.



I've turned comments back on fully. All of you keyboard tough guys can start commenting again. I am however going to moderate them for the time being.... so try to behave yourselves.


Justin Hickman

A couple people asked me this weekend why Hickman hadn't been playing.
I didn't know the entire answer, so I asked the Thunderbirds (thanks Ian Henry).

Here is the situation

On 04/02/13, Justin Hickman of Seattle received Four games for checking to the head major and g.m. versus Kelowna on April 2.

So he missed game 7 of the series, leaving him with three games.

Apparently, when suspensions carry over from one season to the next, the suspension is for both preseason and regular season. So he can play the last 4 preseason games, but will miss the first three regular season games.


Sunday, Sunday, Sunday (said in a monster truck announcers deep voice)

After this game, only 96 more wins to finish with the perfect record of 99-0.
This also means they will be hosting the Memorial Cup.
Yeah, I like the sounds of that.

Another strong start by Seattle, followed by a loss of composure, and barely holding on for the win.

Seattle's 1st goal turned into a 2 on 0 when Connor Honey made a strong move around defender with the puck, and passed it over and got the pass back.
This is exactly the type of play that Seattle is going to need.  Very hard work, and this time it pays off.

It also goes with attacking the net.
Two of Seattle's goal came with players driving the net.
Kolesar's goal was tipped by defender up over the goalie, no chance for goalie.  But it was his strong move down the side that made it all happen.
The Volcan goal - so much time and space in front of net.  But it was because he went to the net that made it happen.

It was also that effort and hard work that lead to Seattle's second goal.  I thought it was icing.  Spokane thought it was icing, but the linesmen didn't.  Seattle attacked, got the puck out front, and it ends up in the back of the net.

Special teams

Elliot was once again in from of net on the PP.
It is great to watch guys try to move him out of the way.
Also, I find it so funny to watch Elliot's face after the whistle.
There are so many times when guys will come shove him to move him, push him, etc.
If you watch him, half the time he just kind of looks at them and smiles, almost saying "Go ahead start something you can't end".

I am simply loving this penalty kill.
It is what I have been asking for the last couple seasons.
In simple terms, it is everyone attacking the puck at full speed, and making the other team beat you.
It is very aggressive, I am sure very tiring, but also very effective.
Scott Easnor is really good doing this.  He brings a ton of energy, and also knows how to do the little things like drag his stick, turn at the right time, return to the correct position.
Even Barzal was getting pk time.

On one PK, Sheen was very unlucky, otherwise he would have a breakaway from his own blueline, except called offside just as he picked off pass at blue line.  It was at the other end of the ice, so I have no idea if it was a good call or not.  But based on the reaction of Seattle players, it was the correct one.


Wardly played a lot calmer today.
Instead it was Griffin Foulk that took over that department.
But in general, the defense was still not in good working order.
Far too many close in shots.
Two or three of the goals were redirections in front of the net by players who shouldn't have been able to touch the puck.


In what I think was his first game action in something like 47 years, Justin Myles played well.
Yes he left some juicy rebounds, but he also made a couple really nice saves.
As I mentioned above, a couple of the goals were redirections right in front of him.
Plays he has very little chance on.
While he did not face the 56 shots Fordyce got Saturday, he did get 40.
For this being his first action in a while, I thought he did very well.

Giving up the body

All weekend long, we saw Seattle diving to block shots.
I didn't really like the way they were doing this, more less throwing themselves in front of shots, instead of positioning themselves.
The biggest block today went to Michael Holub with a huge shot block to end first.
It was a point blank slapshot, straight into his shin pads.  It had to hurt.  A scrum followed the final whistle, and he making a "bee-line" to get involved.
Kind of strange to see players doing this early in the season, but also great to see.

The pinball player

Two training camps ago, when Michael Holub was 15, we called him "Pinball".
When he was on the ice, all he did was hit players.
He went 100% speed, nailed a player, bounched off, then went to the next one.
It was so fun to watch.
Last season Holub was only 16, so his ice time was limited, and talking to his father, he was ready to step up and prove everything he has to offer this season.
And that is what he has done so far.
His hustle, forecheck, and hard work was really rewarded today when he got to play with Barzal and I think Delnov.  Although he only came away with one assist on the scoresheet, he was making play after play.
He to me is one of the great stories of training camp.

Misc Notes

  • Wardly got a breakaway coming out of the box.  He should have just shot it from the blue line like game three of the playoffs last year.  He almost looked scared, and showed he is not a guy you will see in the shoot out.
  • Spokane goalie bring own pucks for warm up at switch.  Saved a bunch of time, and I have not seen that before.  Of course, the Chiefs didn't know to send them back to the bench, and it took extra time to pick them up.  Elliot was skating around, and appeared to be making fun of them for it.
  • Speaking of Elliot, he had a knee on knee hit given to him, and wanted revenge right away, but the linesmen kept him back
  • Theodore leaves Wednesday for camp
  • Weird seeing the team on Everett's home bench
  • Nachbaur is still the best dressed coach in the WHL

Thoughts on Saturdays game

Seattle is still on pace for a 99-0 record this season.

I didn't take many notes, because I had my children with me, and also see the very bottom of this post for the other reason.

The few things I remember

Wardly and Douglas were very, very, very physical.  And a lot of times, too physical.
Assistant Coach O'Dette had to grab Wardly on the bench and pull him back once when there was a scrum right in front of it.
I thought playing this style really took them out of their game.

This game was a lot more chippy game then Friday's.  It was almost like these teams wanted to combine for 120 PM and 5 fights in a game.  Oh wait, that is what they did last season on December 10th.
I thought Seattle played a good 1st period of the game, but the the wheels came off in the second.
Giving up 5 powerplays, running around in the zone, not working hard to clear pucks, missing assignments.
By doing all this, it turned into a shooting gallery on Devon Fordyce, facing 26 shots, and 56 overall.
I will say that about half those were from outside, which is what you want to do.  But that still leaves far too many shots that are shots from places they shouldn't come from.

The shootout was fun to watch.
I kept waiting for Jagger Williamson with his hair to come off the bench to take one, but then I had to be reminded that he was sent home already.
The highlight goal had to be Barzal's (I know, I know, get used to me saying this).
He just went straight in, not fast, but not slow.  At about equal with the faceoff dot, he dipped his shoulder just a bit to fake a shot, then next thing you know, the puck is in the upper corner.

The one major thing I took from this game is that the team didn't play a good game at all, yet still found a way to come back and force ot and win.
The past few years, I don't think Seattle does that.

I am going to put this in just to put it in.

Watch out over the next couple years for Matthew Phillips of the Royals.
They listed him at 5'6, 130.  I might give you the 130 part, but the 5'6 might have been on his skates.
He was easily the best 15 year old playing in the entire tournament for any team.
He is afraid of nothing, forchecks hard, hits people, has a very good pass, and an even better shot.
An example of his hard work.  Puck, goes into the corner, and he goes in to get it against Jared Hauf.
They list Hauf at 6'5 227.  So that means Phillips gives up 11 inches, and 97 pounds.  Yet guess who came out with the puck.
I could list other examples of this kid doing things like that, but this is a Thunderbird blog.

A Big Thanks

Lastly, during the second period, Victoria Royals play by play guy (Marlon Martens) was nice enough to let me join him in his broadcast booth and do color commentary with him.
twitter: @VoiceVicRoyals

I did this last season both times Victoria was in Seattle, and also once when Victoria was in Everett.  I really enjoyed the practice and the chance to do it again.  Hopefully, you can all go listen to the archive and hear me give a huge shout-out to all the followers on this blog, and to Tyler, that was parked in the middle of a University of Washington parking lot partaking in something they refer to as tailgating.  Sadly (well, not really sadly), it was just a mock broadcast so that Marlon could get back in to the flow of things, so their is no archive audio of the game at all.  So you guys will just have to take my word on it/

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