It’s early in the season but there is reason to believe that the team has been looking forward to this game since the end of the playoffs last year. The Kelowna Rockets have been responsible for ending the Thunderbirds season the past 2 years. In addition to that motivation, Kelowna is ranked #4 in the CHL this week and comes into tonight’s game undefeated. A good chance for a young Seattle team to step up and make 2 statements: We can beat Kelowna and we can win the big games. On to the game day notes:
#4 Kelowna Rockets (5-0-0-0) @ Seattle Thunderbirds (2-2-0-0)
Radio: News-Talk-Sports 1150AM (Kelowna) The Fan 1090AM (Seattle)
Seattle was in Portland last night and continued the Winterhawks losing streak, defeating them 4-3 in a shootout. F Nic Holowko, F Keegan Kolesar and F Ryan Gropp scored in regulation while F Mathew Barzal and F Donovan Neuls scored in the shootout. G Taran Kozun made 26 saves in regulation and stopped 2 of 3 Portland shooters in the shootout for the win.
This is the first of 4 meetings between Kelowna and Seattle.
Kelowna has 3 people on their list of injured players: D Joe Gatenby is listed as day-to-day with an lower body injury, F Dillon Dube is out 2-4 weeks with a lower body injury and F Tanner Wishnowski is sidelined indefinitely with an upper body injury.
Same list for Seattle as last night: F Justin Hickman is day-to-day with upper body injury and D Shea Theodore is out 4-6 weeks with an upper body injury and is still working out with the Anaheim Ducks.
Premieres and repeats
For the second straight game, a Thunderbird scored his first career WHL goal. Last Friday, Donovan Neuls scored the only Seattle goal vs Tri-City. Last night, Nic Holowko scored the first goal of the game for the TBirds.
As mentioned on Twitter last night, D Jared Hauf has moved into 48th place on the all-time games played list as a Thunderbird, playing in his 207th game. He had been tied with former Thunderbirds F Scott Kelman, F Steven Goertzen and D Nathan Forster at 206 games. Up next at #47 is D Jason Beckett who played 211 games with Seattle.
Also mentioned on Twitter, Barzal and Kolesar have accomplished something that hasn’t been done since 1/19/13 and 2/1/13. They are the first TBird duo to each score 2+ points in consecutive games against Portland. The last duo to do it was F Connor Honey and F Roberts Lipsbergs. However, both of those games were at ShoWare Center. You have to go back all the way to 12/31/07 and 1/19/08 to find a set of teammates that each scored 2+ points in consecutive games in Portland. That trick was done by F Bud Holloway and F Ian McKenzie.
No Thunderbirds come into tonight on a multi-game scoring streak.
Including the playoffs, D Ethan Bear has a 2-game goal scoring streak versus the Rockets.
Going back to last regular season, Bear and D Jerret Smith have a 2-game point streak against Kelowna.
Seattle has killed the last 15 opponent power play opportunities.
The TBirds have given up the first goal in all 4 games so far.
F Keegan Kolesar 2 2 4
F Mathew Barzal 0 4 4
F Ryan Gropp 3
F Mathew Barzal 4
F Donovan Neuls +2
D Evan Wardley +2
F Keegan Kolesar 18
Around the division
Everett had their home opener last night versus Kelowna. The Rockets won in OT, 5-4. Tri-City was in Brandon to start their Eastern Division trip and defeated the Wheat Kings 4-3. Spokane was in Cranbrook and lost to the Kootenay Ice 2-1 in overtime.
Tonight, Tri-City continues their road trip and are at Mosaic Place to take on the Moose Jaw Warriors. Spokane returns home and will face off against the Prince George Cougars. Portland heads up I-5 to Xfinity Arena in Everett, still looking for their first win of the season.
Looking forward to the rest of the week, Portland hops the ferry to Victoria for a rare Monday game. Tri-City keeps on motoring through Saskatchewan, hitting Prince Albert on Tuesday and Saskatoon on Thursday. Spokane, Everett and Seattle are all off after tonight until next Friday.
As mentioned, Seattle is off until next Friday after tonight. The TBirds next 2 games on are on the road, in Everett next Friday and in Portland (yes, again!) next Saturday. The next Thunderbirds home game is Tuesday, October 14th against Spokane. That is the first 2-for-Tuesday of the season, meaning drink and food specials for $2 and 2-for-1 ticket prices.