For the second time in as many weeks, the Thunderbirds are headed down I-5 to the Moda Center to take on the Portland Winterhawks. It will have a bit of a different feel than the game on 9/19. No pomp and circumstance for the Hawks and their 4th Western Conference banner, instead they will be looking to break a 5-game losing streak that they’ve started the season with. The TBirds are looking to break their own streak of 2 losses since that opening night win. Something has to give tonight. Here are you game day notes for game #4 of the season.
Overall game #4 Away game #3
Seattle Thunderbirds (1-2-0-0) @ Portland Winterhawks (0-5-0-0)
Radio: The Fan 1090AM (Seattle) KPAM 860AM (Portland)
Last Friday, Seattle was in Kennewick to take on the Tri-City Americans. F Donovan Neuls scored his first career WHL goal but that was all the offense that the TBirds could muster. G Taran Kozun had 17 saves in the defeat.
Seattle leads 1-0-0-0 GF 4 GA 1
Home 0-0-0-0 GF 0 GF 0
Away 1-0-0-0 GF 4 GA 1
9/19 @ Portland
Seattle gave up the first goal but scored the next 4 en route to a 4-1 opening night win. F Keegan Kolesar, F Alexander True, and F Ryan Gropp (2) were the goal scorers. F Mathew Barzal had 2 assists. Kozun had 24 saves for the victory.
How things have changed
While these teams will have the same uniforms as the last time they played, the players in them will certainly be different. For Portland, they will have multiple players back from NHL camps: G Brendan Burke, F Oliver Bjorkstrand, D Anton Cederholm, F Chase De Leo, F Keegan Iverson, and F Dominic Turgeon will all be playing against Seattle for the first time this season.
Last year’s leading scorer F Nic Petan is still away at Winnipeg’s traning camp.
The Winterhawks also made a trade this week, acquiring overage F Miles Koules from the Medicine Hat Tigers in exchange for a Bantam Draft pick. He should add some more offense to an already potent forward group.
Seattle will also have a couple of new faces in the lineup compared to the first game. D Evan Wardley has returned from Montreal Canadiens training camp and should be in the lineup tonight for his first WHL game of the season.
New acquisition D Tanner Ottenbreit should be dressed and playing for the TBirds tonight in his debut for the team. Ottenbreit was received from the Saskatoon Blades for D Adam Henry. Henry joins former TBird F Sam Mckechnie in Saskatoon. Mckechnie was sent to the Blades earlier in a deal that netted Seattle a Bantam Draft pick in return.
The Henry and Mckechnie deals brought the Thunderbirds down to the overage limit of 3 with Wardley, F Justin Hickman and G Taran Kozun filling those spots.
Portland has the same injured player list from the first meeting: D Josh Hanson is day-today while D Blake Heinrich is week-to-week.
Seattle has just one player injured: Hickman is day-to day with an upper body injury. D Shea Theodore is also injured and will be out 4-6 weeks. He is still with the Anaheim Ducks and is rehabbing and working out with them.
F Calvin Spencer returned from illness in the last game and should be in the lineup tonight.
What’s trending now
No TBird players on more than a 1-game scoring streak due to the shutout by the Everett Silvertips at the home opener.
The Thunderbirds have given up the first goal in all 3 games played so far this season.
Seattle snapped a 3-game losing streak to Portland last game. It was also their first win in the Rose City in 12 tries. Their last win in Portland before opening night was Sept 21, 2012.
The TBirds have equaled or outshot their opponents in each individual period so far except for the first period vs TC. Here are the total shots by period overall:
1st Seattle 28 Opponent 30
2nd Seattle 30 Opponent 24
3rd Seattle 28 Opponent 10
Portland scored a PPG early in the 2nd period in the first meeting of these two teams. Since then, the Thunderbirds have killed off 10 straight shorthanded situations.
F Ryan Gropp 2 0 2
F Keegan Kolesar 1 1 2
F Mathew Barzal 0 2 2
F Ryan Gropp 2
F Mathew Barzal 2
F Donovan Neuls +2
F Keegan Kolesar 13
Around the division
Last weekend, Everett was in Portland for two games and won both of them; Saturday they won 5-1 and Sunday they won 6-4. Tri-City was in Spokane on Saturday night for the Chiefs home opener with the home team victorious, 3-2.
Tonight, Everett is hosting the Kelowna Rockets in the Silvertips home opener. So far, US Division teams are 1-3 in their home openers, the one win being the Spokane game mentioned above. Tri-City has started their Eastern Division trip already and are in Brandon tonight to take on the new look Wheat Kings. Spokane is north of the border in Cranbrook to take on their geographical rival, the Kootenay Ice.
Seattle is back home tomorrow night versus Kelowna. This will be the first game between the two teams since game #4 of last year’s playoffs when the Rockets swept out the Thunderbirds. Game time is 7:05pm at ShoWare Center. If you need tickets, there is still time to take advantage of the Amazon Local deal for $12 seats.