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Hockey Challenge 2014

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He still writes here?

Yes, I still write things here.

First off I want to thank everyone for their donations to my team for the Hockey Challenge. Our team collectively raised over $40,000 and the challenge as a whole raised over 200k. That is a monster number.

Perhaps more importantly my American IEB team defeated the fascist Canadian IEB team to salvage what was otherwise a pretty crappy weekend of patriotic hockey. My teams are still undefeated in the Challenge, thank you very much.

The team hasn't played very well lately and that has dropped their lead to only 4 points over the Spokane Chiefs for 4th place (and home ice in the first round) in the Western Conference. Some of the doubters and the Russ Farwell detractors have come back and that is understandable. It is much easier to be upset about things when your team is only 3-2-0-1 in their last 6 games than it is to complain about things when the team is on a 7 game winning streak (as they were in January).

I'm saving some of my thoughts until right before the playoffs, when I will have a bit more time to write and really analyze things but I don't think there is really much reason to be concerned about a slight lull in the schedule.  If you thought this team was prepared to win the WHL Championship with the trades the team has made this season... I have some land I would like to sell you in Nevada, call me.

This team is better. It is improved. It is interesting and It is a hell of a lot more fun to watch than the versions we have seen for the past 4 or 5 years but it isn't winning the WHL Championship.

If another year without a WHL Championship banner means another year of disappointment and that means further indictment of Russ Farwell... well I can't strongly argue against you but you simply cannot deny that this team is far more interesting to analyze and discuss than the teams we've had over the past 5 seasons. This is a team that "could" make a run. That doesn't mean they will and I will outline my thoughts in a couple of weeks but this isn't a team that is likely to get swept in the first round of the playoffs (did I just jinx it?).

Last year the team nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in WHL playoff history and thrilled us in a 7 game series. But let's be honest... that team wasn't going to win their next series had they been able to close out the Kelowna Rockets. This team has a non-zero percent chance of winning their second round series and that makes things a lot more fun and interesting.

Anyways... thanks again to everyone who supported me in the Challenge. I nearly met my goal, finishing with $1850 of support. Next year we top $2000!


Parents Weekend

Just a quick not that this weekend is Players Parents weekend.  I know the Euro's parents are not attending, but I think all others will be.  If you run into any of them, stop, say hi, and most of all, say thank you for letting their boys play in Seattle.


Coming out of the weekend

I was trying to figure out how to follow up last weekends headline of "IMO, not a good weekend for the Birds".  The best I came up with was to just drop the "IMO".
Otherwise, I could have just cut and pasted the entire article, and it would fit fine.

Except instead of picking up 4 out of 6 points, they got 1 out of 4.  People will tell me that Seattle lost 2 games by 2 goals, 1 of those being a shootout goal.  I will say in response to that, the numbers don't tell the story.

In both games, they let the opponent dictate the flow of play, and instead of fighting through that play, they just let it happen.

Friday night, Everett controlled play for the first 55 minutes.  They played a very good trap, and forced Seattle to dump the puck.  If you are forced to do that, you MUST have speed on the forecheck.  Instead, most of the time, Seattle had no forecheck at all.
Saturday night, Kamloops controlled play for the first 40 minutes.  Almost the same thing as Friday night, dump and chance, minus the chase part.
Seattle did cut down on the undisciplined penalties.  Only one Friday night (well, really two at the same time), and one Saturday night.

I see two common themes in all these games the last couple of weekends.

  • Little physical play.  Except for the first period Friday night, Seattle was not hitting like they need to.  Not finishing checks.
  • ZERO production from the 2nd line (whatever pairing that might be).  Seattle is down to one scoring line, with a number of veteran players that are counted on the score, not doing that.  I will not name who they are, but if you watch the games, easy to figure out.

There are two players in particular that I would personally sit for a game in the stands, but I highly doubt will happen.  One I think should be might just surprise you.

Since the Friday game was on Root, I will try to put up the stats I do tomorrow morning.


Hockey Challenge wrap up

Saturday was the hockey challenge.

Tyler played, I ran the score clock and penalty box.  I can tell you that I had a great time all day, and I am sure Tyler did also.

Overall, the event raised around $190k for the charity.  Let me type that again.  One hundred ninety thousand dollars.  All for one day of hockey by a bunch of people that just love playing.

Tyler only raised $1400 of his $2000 goal.  Guess that means he will have to personally kick in $600 (ha, ha). (Editor comment: Actually Jon I got to $1850... so I guess you'll have to kick in the last $150!)  A HUGE thank you for everyone that participated, watched as a fan, or only donated.

The all star game was a ton of fun to watch.  Seeing and talking to old time former Tbirds was great.  I know a lot of them had a great time hanging out and catching up with each other.  And on the ice, the battles were there for sure.  Lots of friendly slashes between former teammates.

One quick story to tell.  Each year, I have been able to convince friends to volunteer to help us with things.  Each year, everyone one of them talks about how great of time they have, and how excited they are for next year.  This year, the friend I brought in I have known for close to 18 years now.  The really cool thing for me is that he turned 21 years old last summer.  The way we met was that his father had season tickets in the old Key Arena, and their seats were right behind us.  This friend and his younger brother used to kick my seats every game.  It is so cool to me to see someone grow up watching hockey, playing it, and now has season tickets of his own.

One other quick story on the day.  During the all star game, a bunch of Kamloops Blazers came out behind the goal and were watching.  They were in shock of some of the players, and one in particular.  They wanted to know who this #3 was for red.  When told it was 15 year NHL veteran Brendan Witt, they replied "Who?".  Gee, thanks guys for making someone that watched him play in the WHL really old.


Couple notes

Friday nights game
Just a reminder that the game in on Root Sports (channel 30 or 627 on Comcast).  So if you are not going to Everett, you can watch.  You never know, you might see me in the corner of your TV.

Better yet, Gator's Sports Bar in Kent ( will be hosting a viewing party.  I know a few diehard fans will be there.

And if you are going to Everett for the game, come over to the broadcast booth and wave.  If I am not busy (yeah right), I will come say hi.

All day Saturday
Saturday is the yearly McDonalds House Hockey Challenge.  The Ronald McDonald House is a charity that I believe in greatly.  I have donated my time for this event every year (since it started I think).  Each year, I have brought friends in to help out, and they have all fell in love with it also.  There is hockey all day long, and I run the clock and scoreboard for all of it.  It is a long day, but a great cause.

Tyler plays in the event each year, and collects donations so he can try to be the top fund raiser.  We would love if you have not donated any money in his name, please do so,  Even $5 helps.  You can click on the graphic above to help out.

After the TBird game against Kamloops, there is the challenge all-star game with several former Thunderbirds.  This is always a really fun game. This year there are some new players that have not played before, including former NHL players Brendan Witt and Chris Wells.  Stick around and watch the fun.


IMO, not a good weekend for the Birds

I will start out by admitting the Birds got 4 out of 6 points this weekend.  Not bad for a 3 in 3 weekend.
Against the 3 teams they played, they should have expected 6 points.
The way they played against those 3, I hardly think they deserved 2 points.


Wardly a bad bad boy, and Seattle checkbooks out

That was Wardly's 3rd Game Misconduct of the season last night.  If I recall correctly, the 3rd is a 1 game suspension for accumulations of game misconducts.  The next one would be a two game suspension, etc, etc.

Also, I am assuming the league will consider that a multiple fight situation, resulting in a $500 (EDIT: Since this was Seattle's 2nd multiple fight situation they received a fine of $750) check being written by the team to the league discipline bank account.  Anyone know where that money ends up???????  I got an idea, how about taking it all and coming up with a league wide promotion for fans in the United States.


Carnac the Magnificent

In tribute to Jay Leno retiring for a second time from the Tonight Show, I wanted to do this post in the form of a popular Leno skit.  But none of them worked.  So I am reaching further back to Johnny Carson days for this one.  A look at the Birds through Carnac the Magnificent.


Weekend Update

The subject line is in honor of Seth Meyers final Weekend update on "Saturday Night Live", or as I have now started calling it "Sunday Morning On Demand".

I am writing this Monday morning and let's be honest... there probably isn't a sports fan in the city today who even cares. Some PED taking, loud, rude, testosterone filled babies stole my thinking.  But enough about Tyler's twins (that really are cute).

The SEAHAWKS won the Super Bowl.  Let me write that again.  The SEAHAWKS won the Super Bowl.

To Scott Eansor and Danny Mumaugh, its ok, the Bronco's could still beat the Mariners at baseball (or really any sport I am guessing).
To Seth Swenson, you got the teams in the Super Bowl right, but guess the result was the exact opposite of what you said would happen.  I know you have a game Wednesday night, but the parade is over at 1pm, giving you enough time to get back to Lethbridge in time.  Need money for airfare?

The last thing I will say about the Hawks victory.
To my friends and fellow TBird fans (and you know who you are), I'm glad you got to go, and I'm glad you had a great time.  And if you think you are excited about the Hawks winning, just wait until the Birds win their first championship and see me excited, crying and happy.

OK, back to the Birds now (oh wait, a Hawk is a bird isn't it).

The common theme to this weekend 

It just happen to be the same as last weekend.  Penalty Killing.
Blocked shots, hard work, fighting through players, getting sticks on pucks, big saves.
I have an idea for Seattle to make the theme be something else next weekend.  STOP TAKING STUPID PENALTIES.  Quite a few calls this weekend were lazy, not moving your feet, frustration type of calls.
Those have to stop.  You give top teams too many power plays, you might as well give them the game.
And for anyone that points out the Seahawks were the most penalized team in the NFL this season, and still won the championship, I will deduct 5 million made up points from your account.
The TBirds have given up 11 Shorthanded goals.  That is second worst in the league (behind only PG who has given up 13).  How is it possible to have given up so many?

Friday nights game.

Had a nice easy drive up to Everett with no traffic.  Everyone must have been in NYC for the Superbowl (which the SEAHAWKS won in case you didn't know).
I thought overall the game was even, and the score and shot counter showed that.
However, if not for some amazing saves by TBird goaltender Kozun, Everett could easily have won this one.
The way both teams were playing, it was a fight for the middle of the ice.  Getting any passes through that area was next to impossible.
And forget about skating with speed.
Seattle really needs to learn that a period is 20 minutes in length, not 18.  All three periods, Everett dominated the last two minutes, and in each period, almost came away with a goal because of the hard work.
First goal by Barzal was soft, soft, soft.  Cotton would have wanted it back for sure.  Not even sure how is trickled in, but it went it.
Second Seattle goal was a Power Play goal where the puck finally made it's way over to Gropp who had been parked on the back door for an easy tap in.
The only goal Seattle gave up was a rocket Power Play goal from sniper Winquist (wow what a shot he has).
As mentioned above, Everett could easily have had a few more had Kozun not come up big.  But the same could be said about Seattle and Cotton.
Listening to the Everett post game show, they said Kozun STOLE the game from them.  I wouldn't go that far, since Seattle did have about the same number of chances at the other end.
I got the lucky honor of sitting next to hopefully a future WHL player.  If he or his father happen to be reading this, great meeting you.

Saturday nights game

What I think has to be the best example of penalty killing this team has seen in quite a while.
Here is a little chart Starting at the 9:15 mark of the first period
5-4 PDX - 09:15 to 11:16
5-5 EVN - 11:16 to 15:36 (3 shifts, 4:20)
5-4 PDX - 15:36 to 17:36
5-5 EVN - 17:36 to 18:40 (1 shift, 1:04)
5-4 PDX - 18:40 to 20:00
5-4 PDX - 00:00 to 00:40
5-5 EVN - 00:40 to 03:37 (2 shifts, 2:57)
5-4 PDX - 03:37 to 05:20
5-3 PDX - 05:20 to 05:50
5-4 PDX - 05:50 to 08:37
5-5 EVN - 08:37 to 09:56 (1 shift, 1:19)
5-4 PDX - 09:56 to 11:56

So, for that range of 22:42 playing time, Seattle played even for 9:40.  That is 580 seconds out of 1362 seconds.  That is 43% of the time.
Think about that for a minute.  For over one period, Seattle was playing short handed over half the time.
Now, lets get rid of that 4:20 at the beginning, and go from the start of the next penalty, 15:36.
That drops it done to 5:20 of even strength (320 seconds), out of 16:20 (980 seconds).  That is 33% of the time.
So for almost an entire period, Seattle was playing short handed for 66% of the time.
This is against a team that is 4th best in the league on the power play at home, hitting at 26.2%.
Just reading these numbers, a fan would assume Portland scored 5 goals, 6 goals, quite a few goals.
And that one came 30 seconds into a 5 on 3.
That is what I call amazing.
That is players sacrificing their bodies blocking shots, getting sticks in passing lanes, getting sticks on shots, fighting to get the puck down the ice and changing, and big goaltending.
I will not comment on any of the penalty calls in the game, because most of them I couldn't see (See my rant below).

For all that great news, the Power Play was just the opposite.
Seattle gets its first Power Play early in the 3rd, trailing 1-0.
Scoring on that, and the game is tied, and the momentum is clearly in Seattle's side.
Instead, they give up a short handed goal, killing any momentum, putting them down two goals, etc, etc.

Not much else to say about this game because of the special teams play.
During the period, when playing 5 on 5, I thought Seattle played very well.
They had chances.  They controlled play at times.  The didn't give up many chances on their own end.

Looking forward to this weeks game

4 very difficult games, but all should be won.
Everett will want revenge for the loss Friday night.  There are still LOTS of great seats left for the game, and it is a 2 for Tuesday.  No reason not to fill the Show.
Back to back games against one of the teams you are fighting for home ice and a playoff spot.
Point wise, Seattle has dominated Spokane this weekend.   On the ice, the games have been a lot closer.  Spokane has a road game in Kootenay Tuesday night so both teams will be playing the same number of games.   No excuse not to continue to put Spokane in the review mirror.
Then looking ahead just a little further, Kelowna on Monday in wine country.  Seattle made Kelowna look bad last week in Seattle, so they will want to reverse it.

A programming note

Friday nights home game is being broadcast on ROOT sports.  Since I am involved in the broadcast, I ask that everyone not at the game watch it.  And everyone at the game watch the reply later that night.
If you do a drinking game, taking a shot of alcohol every time you hear my name, your mouth will stay nice and dry (and your bottle untouched).

Now a rant

The WHL Live computer feed

How can a league the quality of the WHL continue to put out such a bad experience in a product fans pay for?

The tag line they use "NEVER miss a game".
I guess they can still use this, because you could see the game, just not the PLAY.
The cameraman couldn't figure out how to move the camera and show the play.
Any time the puck went into the corner, you couldn't see it because the camera didn't follow.
As the puck progressed up the ice, the camera would follow along behind the play.
When the camera was actually showing the play, the camera was not in complete focus.
At the end of the game, fans were standing up, and half the camera was blocked.
You would think a team like Portland would have enough money and resources to make sure this type of stuff does not happen.

They have advertised that you can now get the away audio feed and listen to your own broadcaster.
Well, I guess Thom now sounds like fuzzy static, with the occasional beep.

I use my Windows 8 tablet to view the games.  So I don't have a keyboard or mouse connected.
When you go full screen, you cant leave it without doing a lot of work, because there is no "NOT FULL SCREEN" button.
If you want to change the audio feed, forget about it, buttons too small.  Want to adjust the volume, forget about it, buttons to small.

On the the WHL scoresheet website.

At one point during the 2nd period, I wanted to know the current shot counter.
The Winterhawks tweeted they were 17-0, and I thought that it seemed very high.
So I go to the online scoresheet, and it shows shots as 12-8, and that PDX had 1 shot in the 2nd, and goal.
I have seen the system they use to update the online system.  It is web based form, very plain screen.
So they had the time to enter the goal and the penalties, but changing the PDX only shot counter, guess that might take too much time.
Portland is by no means the only team to have this issue, so I will not call them out specifically.

WHL Scoreboard