Game day: vs Kamloops 10/18

Last season was, by all accounts, disappointing for the Kamloops Blazers. Just 14 wins, 3rd most goals against in the WHL and 2nd fewest goals scored. So Kamloops made a big deal in the offseason but it wasn’t for a player. Instead they brought back a coach who had lead the way in better times for the Blazers, Don Hay. And so far that plan seems to be working as they already have 6 wins. Seattle, on the other hand, is trending downward despite a positive outlook at the start of the season. Losers of their last 3, the TBirds are in danger of falling behind the Western Conference pack early in the season. 2 teams who could both use the 2 points tonight. Your game day notes:

Last game
Last night, Seattle lost their 4th game in a row to the Prince George Cougars at home. F Keegan Kolesar scored with 0.3 seconds left in the game so the TBirds could avoid the shutout. G Logan Flodell got his 2nd career WHL start and gave up only 3 goals on 40 shots.

Overall game #11 Home game #5
Kamloops Blazers (6-5-1-0) @ Seattle Thunderbirds (4-5-0-1)
10/18/2014 7:05pm
ShoWare Center
Radio: Radio NL 610AM (Kamloops) 1090AM The Fan (Seattle)

Power play: Kamloops #5 10/44 22.7% Seattle #13 7/39 17.9%
Penalty kill: Kamloops #18 47/62 75.8% Seattle #6 33/39 84.6%
Kamloops PP: #7 6/29 20.7% PK: #10 33/41 80.5%
Seattle PP: #18 2/13 15.4% PK: #18 15/20 75.0%

Season series
First meeting of the season
Oct 18 @ Seattle
Jan 28 @ Kamloops
Feb 13 @ Kamloops
Mar 7 @ Seattle

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
F Ryan Gropp had an assist on Kolesar’s goal and extended his point scoring streak to 7 games. That is the 3rd longest in the WHL this season and tied for the longest active streak. In those 7 games, Gropp has 4 goals and 4 assists.

Seattle has lost their last 2 games at home vs Kamloops, including a 7-1 thrashing on New Year’s Eve. The Blazers goalie that night was current TBird G Taran Kozun. Kozun gets the start tonight and is 1-0-0-1 against his former team.

Going back as far as 87-88, the earliest season where reliable stats are available, the TBirds have never started a season winless in their first 4 games at home.

Along with the Portland Winterhawks, Seattle is the only team in the WHL without a home victory.

Stat leaders

F Mathew Barzal 11

F Ryan Gropp 6

F Mathew Barzal 7

D Sahvan Khaira +2

F Keegan Kolesar 18
(WHL website lists D Jared Hauf with 19. However, his major for a check to the head on Tuesday night was rescinded by the league. Stat sheets have yet to reflect that decision.)

Around the division
Last night, all 5 teams in the division were in action. Portland started their East Division trip with a victory in Moose Jaw, 6-2. It was the Winterhawks 1st regulation win of the season and only their 2nd overall. In Spokane, Kelowna stayed undefeated with their 3-2 win over the Chiefs. And down in Kennewick, the only game featuring a US matchup saw Everett come back from being 3 down to force a shootout. However, Tri-City prevailed in the shootout and won the game 5-4.

Tonight, all 22 teams in the WHL are playing. Portland continues their trip with a very difficult challenge in Brandon. Everett travels up the 395 to take on Spokane in the Lilac City. They’ll pass Kelowna who are heading south to take on the Americans and put their 11-game undefeated streak on the line against Tri-City.

After tonight, Seattle is off for 6 days. Portland motors through Saskatchewan with stops in Regina on Tuesday and Swift Current on Wednesday. Everett plays the back half of an extended home and home with Spokane on Wednesday night at Xfinity Arena. Tri-City and Kelowna also have a stretched out two-game series with the second game taking place at Prospera Place in Kelowna on Wednesday night.

US Division standings as of 10/18 from

US Division standings as of 10/18 from

Next game
The TBirds stay at home this week and will face the Spokane Chiefs for the 4th time in 2 weeks on Friday night. Game time is 735pm and will be the end of this 3-game homestand.