|North Bay Battalion|
|Owen Sound Attack|
|Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds|
|Acadie-Bathurst Titan||Baie-Comeau Drakkar|
|Blainville-Boisbriand Armada||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles|
|Charlottetown Islanders||Chicoutimi Sagueneens|
|Drummondville Voltigeurs||Gatineau Olympiques|
|Halifax Mooseheads||Moncton Wildcats|
|Quebec Remparts||Rimouski Oceanic|
|Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||Saint John Sea Dogs|
|Shawinigan Cataractes||Sherbrooke Phoenix|
|Val-d'Or Foreurs||Victoriaville Tigres|
December 2, 2013- December 8, 2013
November 29, 2013
At Seattle 6, Saskatoon 2
Photo Courtesy of Harry Conrad
A competitive first period ended with Saskatoon on top 1-0 after the visitor’s scored a power-play goal early on. The power play was the only one of the period for Saskatoon’s top-ranked special teams group and they capitalized to take the lead. Seattle came roaring back in the second period with three straight goals, helped in part by their power-play group. The T-Birds scored two goals on the man advantage in the period, both by Alexander Delnov. Delnov ended the game with five points, the most by a T-Bird since Brendan Rouse last season. Ryan Gropp, who scored the T-Birds’ third goal, added three points as well.
The Blades were able to score one goal late in the second period, also coming on the power play. This made the score 3-2 going into the final frame. Once again, the T-Birds responded with three straight goals, putting the game out of reach. Branden Troock scored the team’s fourth goal, while the fifth came from Ethan Bear on the power play. Scoring came to a close two minutes later when Sam McKechnie stole the puck on the forecheck and beat the goalie to make the score 6-3.
Keys from Last Week
The T-Birds special teams will need to step up in this one, facing the number-one ranked power play in the WHL. Can Seattle avoid giving the Blades any power-play chances?
The Blades did go two for five on the power play, but were outdone by the T-Birds, who went three for five en route to scoring six goals.
Saskatoon’s defense has given up over four goals a game this season. What will the T-Birds do to ensure their offense can take advantage?
The first period was a battle, only to see Seattle pull it all together to take control of the game in the next two. Seattle’s six goals were tied for a season high.
November 30, 2013
At Seattle 6, Victoria 3
Photo Courtesy of Harry Conrad
Two goals in the first three minutes of the game gave Seattle the lead. Alexander Delnov scored the first goal, which was one of his eight points during the three-game weekend. The Royals managed to score before the first period ended, then tied the game five minutes into the second.
Seattle’s offense took over from there, scoring four goals in five minutes, including two power-play goals by Mathew Barzal and Roberts Lipsbergs. The four goal outburst chased Victoria’s Patrik Polivka, who had previously given up four goals in his last five starts. Lipsbergs’ goal was one of two in the game for the Latvian, who also added an assist. Branden Troock also had three points, tallying one goal and two assists.
The third period only saw one goal, from the visiting Royals, to make the final score 6-3 in Seattle’s favor. Five different players had multiple points in the game for the T-Birds.
Keys from Last Week
Victoria’s stifling defense has given up more than two goals twice in the last eight games: both times to Seattle. Have the T-Birds found a way to create offense against the Royals?
Whatever Seattle is doing against the Royals has worked: the six goals were the most Victoria had allowed the entire season.
The Royals have actually been better on the road than at home with a .727 winning percentage outside Victoria. Can the T-Birds ensure ShoWare is less than friendly for the visitors?
Victoria’s trip to Kent was a nightmare, with Seattle attacking from every angle, especially during a span that saw three goals in 1:04.
December 1, 2013
Seattle 5, at Spokane 1
Photo Courtesy of Gary Peterson
A hot weekend for the T-Birds continued in Spokane when Roberts Lipsbergs opened the scoring. The power-play goal was his 18th of the season and came on assists from Adam Henry and Branden Troock. Henry’s assist was one of two on the night for the defenseman, who also added a power-play goal in the third period.
Despite 19 shots in the first period, Seattle was unable to score another goal until halfway through the second. Troock had the goal to give the T-Birds a 2-0 lead, which only grew in the third period. The T-Birds had three goals in the third, including two on the power-play. Spokane was able to score one goal late in the game, but Seattle still left with a convincing 5-1 win. In all, the T-Birds scored 17 goals over the three-game weekend.
Keys from Last Week
Holmberg has six points in the last three games, which is actually below his season average. What will Seattle do to stop the high-scoring winger?
Facing Seattle’s shutdown line for much of the game, Holmberg was unable to tally a point.
Spokane and Seattle are meeting for the first of eight games this season. Can the T-Birds take advantage of the unknowns?
The T-Birds hot run continued as they shut out the Chiefs for 50 minutes in the team’s first meeting.
Spokane Chiefs (17-10-0-2)
Friday, December 6, 2013 (7:05 PM) at Spokane Arena, Spokane, Washington
Saturday, December 7, 2013 (7:05 PM) at ShoWare Center, Kent, Washington
Season Series: 1-0-0-0
All-Time Series: 120-128-2-3-11
The Chiefs and T-Birds are now tied in the standings after Seattle’s big weekend. Both teams have 36 points, though the Chiefs have one more win than Seattle. Armed with the second-highest scoring offense in the Western Conference, Spokane has struggled of late. The Chiefs are on a three-game losing streak and have gone 4-4-0-2 in their last 10 games. With only two goals in the last two games, the Chiefs have been forced to rely on a defense that is quite formidable on its own. With 87 goals allowed in 29 games, Spokane ranks fifth in the Western Conference.
As Mitch Holmberg (30-34-64) goes, so go the Chiefs. The leading scorer in the WHL has been held scoreless in the last two games, and its no coincidence that Spokane has only been able to score twice in that span. Even so, Holmberg is four points ahead of any other scorer in the WHL. Holmberg’s 30 goals are also first in the league, seven ahead of the next highest.
Joining Holmberg on the top line are Mike Aviani (22-18-40) and Adam Helewka (12-8-20), both accomplished scorers in their own right. Liam Stewart (5-8-13) has stayed with the second line and played to a plus one. Stewart was recently named to Team Great Britain for the World Juniors. Every picture of Stewart has told a story and he has scored when they need him alongside Spokane’s other secondary scorers, including Riley Whittingham (6-7-13) and Connor Chartier (5-6-11). Chartier is one of the few Chiefs who has played to a minus this year, though he is only a minus two and has taken just two minor penalties this year. Markson Bechtold (0-9-9) is the only forward who hasn’t scored a goal yet. The Albertan rookie is fifth on the team in assists and just behind Carter Proft (5-5-10), the team’s PIMs leader, in scoring. The Chiefs have five other rookie forwards on their roster and Bechtold leads the youngsters in scoring. Keanu Yamamoto (2-6-8) is just behind Bechtold. The two are joined by Dominic Zwerger (4-1-5), Adam Hascic (1-4-5), Blair Oneschuk (2-2-4), and Jacob Cardiff (1-1-2) as the rookies on the roster, with only Bechtold and Oneschuk appearing in 25 of the team’s 29 games.
The defense is led by Reid Gow (0-33-33) and Jason Fram (4-23-27). Gow has yet to score a goal this year and has already recorded the most assists without a goal of any WHL player since 1996. In fact, the Chiefs have just nine goals from the blue line this year, with Fram pacing the group with four, including two on the power play. Fram also has the best plus/minus of the defensemen at plus 15, though Gow is close behind at plus 13.
Colton Bobyk (1-5-6) is the only defenseman who is a minus at minus three. Bobyk’s 25 penalty minutes are fourth among the Chiefs’ D-men, trailing Jeremy McIntosh (2-1-3), who has 46. Cole Wedman (2-5-7) has appeared in all 29 of the team’s games so far, a feat matched only by Fram and Tyler King (0-4-4) for Spokane’s defense.
In net is Eric Williams, who has played 21 games already after appearing in 55 last year. Williams is in his last year in the WHL and has allowed only 52 goals so far. His 2.50 GAA puts him in the league’s top 10 netminders, though his .911 save percentage lags slightly behind. Williams has been in net for 14 of the team’s 17 wins. Backing him up is Garrett Hughson, who has a .893 save percentage in nine games.
Photo Courtesy of Tony Longworth
What to Watch For
Holmberg has been held scoreless in two straight games after scoring in all but two of Spokane’s first 27 games. Can Seattle repeat and hold the 20-year-old without a point?
The T-Birds have scored 22 goals during their four-game winning streak and are now third in the Western Conference in scoring, one goal behind Spokane. Which offense will prevail?
COMING NEXT WEEK
Thunderbirds: The Week Ahead is written weekly by Matt Swanson, intern with the Thunderbirds. Matt is a graduate of Western Oregon University, where he studied political science and sports management. Each post is written as a preview of Thunderbird games scheduled for the upcoming week and weekend.
If you have any comments, questions, or interesting trivia, please feel free to email email@example.com. Include “The Week Ahead” in the subject line. You can also tweet @SeattleTBirds. Compelling trivia or interesting questions are gratefully accepted and may possibly included as content for the next week.
For previous weeks, visit Thunderbirds: Week Ahead Archive