This Date in TBirds History: 10-goal games

With parity in the Western Hockey League, defensive schemes taking hold and goaltenders playing with bigger and better equipment, the days of the high-scoring games would seem to be over. As you will see in the list below, they aren’t extinct completely, but they are the exception these days rather than the rule.

Here are the games that involved the Thunderbirds in which one team scored at least 10 goals. The list only goes back as far as the start of the 1996-97 season but for the purposes of this post, that’s as far back as we need to go.

Seattle 2 Calgary 10 1/5/14
Seattle 2 Portland 10 11/12/13
Seattle 4 Portland 10 9/28/13
Portland 11 Seattle 3 3/10/12
Seattle 2 Portland 11 2/18/12
Seattle 2 Medicine Hat 11 10/31/09
Everett 0 Seattle 10 3/15/09
Seattle 2 Vancouver 10 10/3/08
Seattle 10 Tri-City 6 2/28/03
Lethbridge 1 Seattle 11 2/15/03
Seattle 2 Kamloops 10 9/20/02
Seattle 3 Prince George 10 1/4/02
Spokane 0 Seattle 10 2/10/99
Medicine Hat 4 Seattle 10 12/13/98
Red Deer 2 Seattle 10 12/13/97
Tri-City 7 Seattle 12 10/19/97
Kelowna 2 Seattle 11 12/28/96
Seattle 10 Kelowna 4 12/27/96
Seattle 12 Edmonton 1 11/22/96

It has been a little while since Seattle has scored 10+ goals in a game, doing it on the last day of the season at home vs Everett in March 2009. That game came 2 days after the TBirds had lost 9-1 at home to Portland.

The game in September of 2002 vs Kamloops was the season opener. Giving up 10 on the road to start a campaign would seem like a bad omen but that Thunderbirds team ended the season with 94 points and a division title. Just shows that one game is not always the best indicator of the quality of a team.

The reason we are posting this today, however, is that home-and-home series in December of 1996 when Seattle scored 21 goals in a little over 24 hours. It’s the last time Seattle scored 10+ goals in back to back games. Doing it once in a season would be impressive enough but they did it in consecutive games, against the same team, with a decent bus ride between the two. Now, to be fair, the Rockets were playing with a depleted lineup in both of those games. According to the WHL game sheets, Kelowna had only 15 players available for both games, 7 of which were defenseman. But that was out of the TBirds control, they had to play the team that took the ice against them.

Let’s take a bit of a closer look at the numbers from both of those games:

Friday December 27, in Kelowna, the game was not out of hand for the first 33 minutes or so. Seattle lead 3-0 after the 1st period but the Rockets scored :21 into the 2nd period on a power play and then, 2 minutes later, scored again to make it a one-goal game. The TBirds got 2 more, a Kris Cantu shorthanded goal and a score from Martin Cerven that would eventually be the game winner, before Kelowna answered again. At this point, it’s 5-3 with almost half the game left to play. Seattle netted 2 more before the end of the period, taking a 7-3 lead into the 2nd intermission. After the break, Seattle scored the backbreakers, scoring at :23 and again at :40 of the 3rd period. The teams would exchange a goal after that for the final of 11-4.

4 TBirds ended that game with 4 points. Tyler Wills 4A, Patrick Marleau 2G 2A, Randy Perry 4A and Kris Cantu 3G 1A

The game wasn’t without fireworks. No fights but the teams did combine for 36 penalties for 112 penalty minutes. Kelowna was 2/7 on the power play and Seattle was 4/9. Keep those penalty and special teams numbers in mind as we make the trip to Seattle for the back end of the 2 game set.

Saturday December 28, at KeyArena, the TBirds hit the ground running and never looked back. Kris Cantu scored the first goal of the game on the power play at 4:11 of the 1st period to give Seattle the 1-0 lead. The game winning goal would come about 9 minutes later when Rick Berry would score to make it 3-0 Seattle.  Altogether, Seattle scored the first 9 goals of the game, including 3 shorthanded goals in under 6 minutes in the 2nd period. Kris Cantu got Seattle’s 8th goal of the game, which also completed his hat trick, his second one in as many nights.

Kelowna finally scored in the 3rd when they got 2 goals in 7 seconds. The first, from Scott Hannan, was on a power play. Either while play leading up to the goal was occurring or during the celebration, Greg Kuznik took a cross checking penalty and the Rockets scored on that power play 7 seconds in. It was after this goal that hell would break loose. At 14:58 of the 3rd period, a line brawl broke out that saw an already short Kelowna bench lose 3 more to game misconducts. Seattle also had 3 skaters sent to the showers early from that fracas. Out of all that, the TBirds got a power play and took advantage of the Rockets lack of players to score, making it 10-2. Torrey DiRoberto scored with 2:04 left in the game for Seattle’s 11th and final goal and to complete his hat trick.

Patrick Marleau (1G 4A) and Torrey DiRoberto (3G 2A) were the leading scorers for Seattle. 4 Thunderbirds ended the game +4 or better. Scott King for the Rockets ended the game a -6.

Here are the craziest numbers, however. The teams combined for 53 penalties for 208 penalty minutes. 9 10-minute or game misconducts were handed out between the teams. Kelowna ended up 2/13 on the power play while Seattle was an efficient 3/5. Seattle also had those 3 shorthanded goals.

Totals for the 2 teams for the weekend: 27 goals, 147 shots on goal, 89 penalties, 320 penalty minutes, 34 power plays, 11 power play goals, 4 shorthanded goals and 3 hat tricks.

The series ended up being an amazing offensive output by the Thunderbirds that hasn’t been matched since and, with the way hockey is being played these days, may never be matched again.