Game #1 of the 2014-15 WHL season for both the Winterhawks and the Thunderbirds. Portland will be raising their Western Conference banner tonight, their 4th in a row, while Seattle looks to play spoiler to the festivities. Here’s a look at some game day news and notes:
Seattle Thunderbirds at Portland Winterhawks
Radio: The Fan 1090AM (Seattle) KPAM 860AM (Portland)
Portland will be missing a fair amount of players tonight as they have 7 away at NHL camps and a couple more injured. G Brendan Burke (Arizona), F Oliver Bjorkstrand (Columbus), D Anton Cederholm (Vancouver), F Chase De Leo (Winnipeg), F Keegan Iverson (New York Rangers), F Nic Petan (Winnipeg), and F Dominic Turgeon (Detroit) will all miss tonight’s game. In addition, D Blake Heinrich and D Josh Hanson will sit out with injuries.
Seattle has 2 players at NHL camps, D Shea Theodore (Anaheim) and D Evan Wardley (Montreal). They will also be missing F Justin Hickman due to injury and possibly F Calvin Spencer due to illness. Spencer is listed as day-to-day.
(Just announced this morning that Shea Theodore suffered an elbow injury in Anaheim and he will be out 4-6 weeks)
Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk announced during two different interviews this week that G Taran Kozun is the starter for the weekend (and, apparently, foreseeable future). I would imagine then that we will probably see a rotation of backups this weekend unless performance or in-game incident changes that. It is very unlikely that the TBirds carry 3 goalies any longer than the first couple of weeks of the season so a decision and then, most likely, a transaction will need to be made.
We’re going streaking!
Seattle was shutout in their last game in Portland, which was game #71 last season. so no players are coming into tonight’s game with more than a 1-game regular season scoring streak.
D Ethan Bear finished the playoffs last season on a 2-game goal scoring streak.
D Adam Henry ended this year’s preseason on a 2-game assist streak.
The Thunderbirds have lost 3 games in a row to the Winterhawks. The last victory came on March 1, 2014, a 4-1 win at ShoWare Center. Of the 4 goal scorers that night for Seattle, none of them will be in the lineup tonight: Theodore, F Alex Delnov, Hickman, and F Branden Troock. Kozun earned the win in net, stopping 41 of 42 Portland shots.
In Portland, Seattle has lost the last 11 games. The combined scores of those 11 games is 70-21 for the Winterhawks, including 3 shutouts. The last time Seattle won in Portland was September 21, opening night of the 2012-13 season. In that 5-2 victory. F Riley Sheen had 2 goals and G Brandon Glover made 55 saves. The Thunderbirds were outshot 30-2 in the first period but went into the locker room with a scoreless tie.
Let’s get it started
Since 1989, Seattle has a losing record on opening night. They are 11-12-2(ties) in those 25 games. Against Portland on opening night, however, the TBirds are 3-2-1(tie) and have won the last 2. In the Rose City, Seattle has started the season there only twice since ’89 and are 1-1, the victory being the 2012 game detailed above and the loss coming in 2001 by a score of 5-3.
In road game #1 of the season (not necessarily the season opener), Seattle is 7-17-1(tie) since 1989. They have won their road opener the last two seasons, though: last year in Vancouver 6-0 and 2 years ago in the 2012 Portland game.
After tonight, Seattle returns home to face the Everett Silvertips at ShoWare Center. The home opener Party on the Plaza gets going outside the arena at 4pm. Doors open at 6pm for the 7pm faceoff.