Part of a rich, storied, and thick canon of hockey history in the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Thunderbirds and their Kent, Wash. home ice at accesso ShoWare Center will serve as host for the final stage of the “Three Rink Rush,” hours after the Kraken, off an electrifying 2-1 overtime win against the Oilers in Everett last night, completed morning skate for battle preparations against the Calgary Flames in pre-season game number five.
First thing’s first: you want a good homecoming story?
Former Thunderbird Alexander True, author of one of the most famous goals in Thunderbirds history (to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup in overtime, four years ago at Regina), is due to suit up tonight in the venue he once called, “home.”
That home is where the Thunderbirds – who moved from Kamloops in 1977, became the Breakers, and later when morphing into the Thunderbirds hosted the 1992 Memorial Cup – have set their nest for over a decade after moving to suburban King County, after years of playing on their home ice at the formerly named Key Arena (re-opening next month as the spectacularly renovated Climate Pledge Arena, home of the Kraken). It is also the home to:
- An NHL alumni factory, bordering on 80 players – of modern note, Mat Barzal (New York Islanders), Shea Theodore (Vegas Golden Knights), Patrick Marleau (NHL all-time leader in games), Ethan Bear (Carolina Hurricanes) and even former head coach and current TV analyst Barry Melrose.
- True, since graduating out of the Thunderbirds program, is building on 19 games of NHL experience (formerly San Jose)
- The 2017 WHL Championship and Memorial Cup berth
- Three U.S. Division titles
- A banner saluting one amazing hockey story:Glen Goodall, who set WHL records for most games played (399), goals (262), points ( 573). He debuted at age 14 and spent six years with the Thunderbirds (current WHL rules now permit ages 16-20 for full season). His jersey is the only one retired by Seattle.
- The 5,887-seat venue in Kent, famous like last night’s fellow WHL building in Everett for crowd noise capable of igniting a surge of game momentum few teams and home venues ever see. Or hear.
- Head coach Matt O’Dette, in his fifth year leading the Thunderbird program, on the coaching staff for the 2017 title and at the wheel for eight NHL Draft picks in the last two years.
As of posting time for this, there was clear indication from head coach Dave Hakstol this morning as far as line combinations, and a “mix and match” approach to defensive pairs – as 17 players including Yanni Gourde were on the ice today, with Chris Driedger getting full game duties as tonight’s starting goalie. TheFlames will send a young group, with former Everett Silvertip and two-time CHL Goaltender of the Year Dustin Wolf suiting up.
After morning skate, the Kraken trimmed their roster by five players, sending Luke Henman to Charlotte (AHL), along with defensemen Connor Carrick, Gustav Olofsson, Cale Fleury, and goaltender Antoine Bibeau. The latter four will have to go through a 24-hour waiver period because of their contracts and NHL experience, and unless any other NHL team claims them, will be sent to Charlotte.
PROJECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Johansson – Wennberg – Jarnkrok
Donato – Geekie – Donskoi
Lind – True – Bastian
Tanev – Sheahan – Appleton
Oleksiak – Larsson
Cholowski – Borgen
Lauzon – Dunn
FROM THE PODIUM:
Joonas Donskoi on the continuous build of the Kraken system heading into tonight’s game:
“Yeah we are building our game here, game by game we're getting new experiences. We're building chemistry with the lines for the d-pairings and there's a lot of things here looking a lot of video, special teams, defensive zone, offensive, so there are a lot of things that we’ve still got to work on, so there's a lot of work to do.”
Donskoi on playing with Ryan Donato and Morgan Geekie:
“Those are two great players I like playing with them. Donato and ‘Geeks’ have a lot of skill and, and they both like to work hard. I think that's the kind of the foundation that I think you have to build on. Working hard. That's where everything comes from but we've been trying to talk a lot, I feel like last game we played together, we were alright but we didn't really generate a lot of offense or scoring chances. So I think, going into tonight's game I think we can try to get better at that. Shoot the puck, get to the net more, and little things like that.”
Head Coach Dave Hakstol how overcoming adversity, trailing by a goal late in the game on Friday, made another step for team chemistry:
“Those are little building blocks. Everything counts. There’s no big leap forward off of that. I think we’re all pretty aware it's an exhibition game situation. It doesn't count to the standings, yet everything does count, even in a situation like that so I thought it was really important. I mentioned it after the game you know for the guys, to be able to go out and just stay with it, on a night when nothing was coming easy, to be able to execute in that situation at six on five, and even in a four on three power play situation that you know we haven't had a look at yet this year, those are good things. So, those are nice building pieces on the game last night.”
Hakstol on the timing to make a defensive system a part of the routine:
“To be honest they'll be a work in progress through the early part of the season. That's going to normally be the case, whether it's in our situation where we have all new players, or, in a normal situation. You're going to continue to build in pieces, day in and day out as you go through the early part of the regular season.”
Talk with you at 7pm along with Everett Fitzhugh with KJR coverage (take note!) tonight available on 1090 AM.
- 1st intermission - Jason Botterill, Kraken assistant general manager
- 2nd intermission - Colin Campbell, Seattle Thunderbirds president