Updated Oct 4, 2013 - 3:25 pm
Seattle Thunderbirds Blog
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 @ 5:57am
Seth Swenson is hooked as he breaks in on goal, he would score on the ensuing penalty shot (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT – The Thunderbirds continued their dominance over Eastern Conference opponents Tuesday night as they dispatched of the Brandon Wheat Kings 4-2 at the ShoWare Center. In what was a pretty solid game for Seattle as it was led by the goal and two assists of Seth Swenson and backstopped by 30 saves from Danny Mumuagh. The win gave the Thunderbirds an impressive 6-0-0-1 home record and put them back in first place in the Western Conference.
"The second and third period was a lot of enthusiastic hockey, a lot of passion," coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "We were playing the right way, we had some good chances I thought their goalie made some good saves to keep it close there."
Seattle (11-3-0-2) opened the scoring in the first period when newly acquired Sam McKechnie drove the net and banged home a rebound past Wheat Kings goalie Jordan Papirny. It was McKechnie's first game with Seattle and he managed to score early on.
"It felt really good to get the first one out of the way," the former Lethbridge Hurricane said. "My line mates were really clicking and helped me out for sure."
McKechnie was inserted at center with Swenson and Eric Benoit and they were Seattle's best line of the night. Tasked with shutting down Brandon's top line, they also scored three of Seattle's four goals. They played with a lot of energy, were strong on the forecheck and seemed to click right away.
"We go out there with the mindset to shut down certain lines," Swenson said of his line. "We just hate getting scored on. We take that mentality and the way you do that is to work hard in their zone ... Sam McKechnie stepped in today for us and he did great. Looking forward to keep that going."
That line is not only a solid shut-down line but on Tuesday it provided all the offense Seattle would need. Up a goal in the second period, Benoit feathered a nice lead pass to Swenson that put him behind the Brandon defense. As Swenson moved in on goal, he was hooked from behind and was awarded a penalty shot.
He converted to give Seattle a 2-0 lead.
Brandon (7-8-0-0) fought back and scored 2 minutes later when Ryley Lindgren fired a wrist shot from the circle past Mumaugh to cut the lead to one.
The T-Birds, and the Benoit line, went back at it shortly after that. After an Evan Wardley point shot the rebound bounced around and Benoit picked it up in the slot with time and space. He picked his spot and deposited the puck over Papirny's shoulder for his third goal of the year.
"Our line was starting to click right away," Benoit said about his mates. "Sam came in and just provided that extra spark that we needed and we did things right tonight, I thought we played an all-around good game."
For Konowalchuk, having a shut-down line that can score further adds to the club's depth and makes it that much tougher to beat. Seattle's top line (Mathew Barzal, Justin Hickman and Roberts Lipsbergs) played well Tuesday as well, generating a lot of chances, but was held off the scoreboard. That is going to happen on some nights and a good hockey team needs other lines to step up.
The T-Birds got that Tuesday. Seattle now has a third line that can score as well as play defensive hockey.
"They (Swenson's line) have grasped that role," Konowalchuk said. "They've taken pride on the PK there. McKechnie was a nice addition there as well. I think he's a more natural center. At times we had Swenson there at times we had to have Benoit, but they're more wingers. I think McKechnie there did a real nice job on the faceoffs and made that line better as well – it was a big night for us from that line."
With a 3-1 lead, the T-Birds' defense began to go to work and shut down Brandon's offense. The Wheat Kings struggled to generate any sustained pressure in the Seattle zone and did not have many good scoring chances. They did manage to knock home a goal late in the third after a scramble in front of the Seattle net but even then the game did not feel like it was in jeopardy.
Shea Theodore made sure of that with an empty-net goal with less than a minute left.
The Thunderbirds are now back in first place in the division and conference as they head into a big weekend with games against Portland and Everett. Konowalchuk was happy with the effort and confidence his club displayed Tuesday night and has the team focused on the big early-season game against the Winterhawks.
This T-Birds club is showing signs of being a contender this year, something Benoit knows all about. He has already played on two different teams that have made it to the Memorial Cup and he likes what he sees with his new team.
"It's still pretty early in the season," he said. "But I am pretty sure I've seen a few qualities here, that our team possesses, from when I was with Kootenay and Saskatoon so I'm really looking forward to the rest of the year."
The two teams only combined for six power plays on the night and neither team was able to score. The Thunderbirds played with much more discipline as they cut down on many of the avoidable penalties that had hampered them over the past weekend. There was a lot of spice to the game, however, as there were several scraps and the clubs combined for 121 penalty minutes.
Swenson has three goals now in his last four games. Along with that he has broken three sticks. Is this a sign of hard work? "I don't know if it's hard work," he said with a smile. "It probably needs to stop. The equipment man's going to get mad at me, but it's working out right now."
Tuesday was the return of former T-Birds defenseman Taylor Green. Green had a rough night as he ended up in two fights with his former teammates. He dropped the gloves with Hickman and Jared Hauf.
Shea Theodore's empty-net goal was a thing of beauty. He had the puck deep in his own zone and appeared to just be trying to clear it out when he banged it off the glass. The puck hit the glass and bounded down the ice, turning slowly towards the goal and eventually in. It was the defenseman's seventh goal of the year as he continues his strong season.
The Swenson line combined for three goals, three assists and was plus-8 on the night. Not bad for your shut-down line.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 @ 11:43am
By Tim Pigulski
It didn't take long for newly acquired left wing Jaimen Yakubowski to endear himself to Thunderbirds fans. Just 3 minutes and 37 seconds into the second period of Saturday night's 5-3 Seattle victory over Vancouver, Yakubowski exchanged blows with the Giants' Brooks Orban.
Having arrived in Seattle just hours before puck drop, Yakubowski and fellow trade acquisition Sam Mckechnie certainly hope to bring more to the Thunderbirds' lineup than the occasional scrap – something Yakubowski is known for, but Mckechnie isn't.
Mckechnie did not find himself in the lineup on Saturday night. After being sent home by the Lethbridge Hurricanes after requesting a trade, he hadn't had much of an opportunity to take the ice. It's likely he'll play in Tuesday night's game against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Despite the two players requesting a trade at the same time, it's not something they had discussed beforehand. In fact, the players didn't hear the news about one another until each had been sent home.
"We didn't talk about it together, but we both found ourselves in similar situations as 19-year-olds who needed a change," said Mckechnie.
Yakubowski echoed his current and former teammate's thoughts.
"It's something we decided on separately," he said. "We have the same agent and we do talk about what's going on, but we inquired about it separately and didn't know about it until it was brought up later. We kept it to ourselves."
Coming from the Hurricanes, who currently sit in last place in the WHL's Eastern Conference, both players are relishing the opportunity to play for the Thunderbirds, who currently possess an impressive 10-3-0-2 record.
"Everything worked out really well in the end. Getting traded to a great organization like Seattle, it's something really exciting for me," said Yakubowski, who had one goal in 11 games with his former team. "It felt great to go out there and play with these guys and win a game like that. They're all great hockey players and I'm really excited to be here."
"I'm really excited to get back out on the ice," Mckechnie said. "I'm really looking forward to spending the next couple of months here. These guys can score and they're working hard and I hope I can add some speed to the lineup and help any way I can."
With a forward group that now stacks up against some of the best in the entire CHL, the two newcomers' biggest contribution may come in one area where the Thunderbirds have struggled in recent years – on special teams, particularly the penalty kill.
Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell made it clear that both players will play significant minutes in odd-man situations, a role that they are embracing.
"That's my style," said Mckechnie, who had 43 points last season. "As a small guy, I have to use my speed to be a pest and get on the bigger guys. I want to be a fly in their ear."
Without addressing his role on the penalty kill specifically, Yakubowski plays a style that will translate well to situations where the Thunderbirds are shorthanded, a position they've found themselves in often this season.
"I'm a grinder," he said about himself. "I try to be physical out there and get under the other team's skin. I'm not the most skilled player in the league, but I work hard and like to muck it up in front of the net. I'm going to put my heart on the line for these guys and this team. I'm excited to be a part of a winning team and a winning culture."
With the acquisitions of the two skilled forwards, as well as Ryan Gropp's recent signing, the Thunderbirds now feature a roster that essentially plays two first lines and two second lines. Many WHL teams would jump at the opportunity to be able to play guys like Yakubowski and Mckechnie, who both possess some offensive talent as well, on their third or fourth line and penalty kill.
Expectations are sky-high for a roster that now contains nine 19-year-olds, most of whom won't be around next season. After a tough couple of seasons, the moves being made by the front office indicate a "win now" attitude and a desire to compete for a championship this season.
Follow Tim on Twitter @tpigulski.
Monday, October 28, 2013 @ 8:17pm
Seth Swenson had a good weekend and is off to a solid start for Seattle (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
It was another busy weekend for the Seattle Thunderbirds filled with a lot of noteworthy items. News broke late last week that the team made a block buster move to bring in Jaimen Yakubowski and Sam McKechnie from Lethbridge - a move which will make them one of the more deeper teams in the league.
We also saw the debut of Ryan Gropp and the team won a game and lost one in a shoot out.
Who was good this weekend? Here are our three stars of the week.
Third Star - Ryan Gropp
There had been a lot of anticipation to see Ryan Gropp in a Seattle uniform and last Friday night we finally got a look at him. He didn't disappoint. On his first shift in his first game he found the back of the net to beat Eric Comrie. He had a pretty solid game in Tri City and probably should have an assist if not for Brandon Troock missing a wide open net. He also made a strong drive to the net in the third period and forced a hooking penalty. Steve Konowlahcuk also showed that he had trust in the young rookie as he selected him to take the last shoot out attempt.
Second Star - Keegan Kolesar
The first WHL goal party continued on Saturday night as Kolesar lit the red light for the first time with a power play goal early in the game against Vancouver. He added an assist later in the game and continues his strong play in his rookie season. Along with his two points against the Giants he also had a strong game Friday night against Tri City. As he continues to grow and get stronger he will be a force on the ice. The future looks bright for the big power forward and he may have just turned in his best weekend of the season and gets our second star.
First Star - Seth Swenson
Swenson is one of Seattle's three 20-year-olds this year and a lot is expected of him. So far he has not dissapointed. In many ways he is a jack of all trades, doing what ever is needed of him by the club. He is the team's top penalty killer and can play on the shut down line or play on a scoring line -- something he's done both of this year. This weekend he chipped in with three goals in the two weekend games. His first goal against Vancouver on Saturday was an example of the nice hands the big Colorado native possesses as he weaved his way through the defense and fired a wrist shot. He cinched the game away with an empty net goal and it should be no surprise that Swenson was on the ice at the most important part of the game.
So far this year Swenson has seven goals and is a plus-3 which is key since he is often matched up with the other team's top offensive lines. For his three goal weekend Swenson gets our first star of the week.
This week's honorable mention goes to a guy who only played in one game. The fact that Jaimen Yakubowski was in the lineup was noteworthy as he didn't arrive in Kent until after 4 PM for a seven o'clock game. After a quick skate with assistant coach Tyler Alos Yakubowski was ready to go. Playing for a new team, with unfamiliar teammates he played hard, with energy and was engaged from the start. While he didn't score he did get in a fight and was a factor all night.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide
Saturday, October 26, 2013 @ 9:40pm
Seattle's Keegan Kolesar parks in front of the Vancouver net during the T-Birds 5-3 win (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT - The Seattle Thunderbirds returned home Saturday night and came away with a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants. Seattle got two goals from Seth Swenson and 41 saves from Justin Myles to hold off the Giants and pick up their tenth win of the season.
A night after dropping a game where they didn't play well the T-Birds were happy to bounce back.
"That (bouncing back) is huge," Seth Swenson said afterwards. "Those losses are going to happen, there's always going to be close games, its nice to have an answer after that one instead of dwelling on it."
The T-Birds got on the board quickly in this one with an early power play goal by Keegan Kolesar as he banged in a loose puck in front of the net. It was Kolesar's first career WHL goal and came seven seconds into the Seattle power play. Kolesar has been getting regular shifts with the power play unit where he generally parks his large frame in front of the net - Saturday it paid off as he scored the greasy goal.
"It's not the most glamorous position on the power play," the rookie said of playing in front. "I'm happy, I like it, get some ice out there and when I get my chance I try to finish and just bear down."
Seattle (10-3-0-2) kept pushing and scored a couple of minutes later as Seth Swenson bullied his way through traffic and beat Vancouver goalie Peyton Lee with a wrist shot. The T-Birds appeared to be on their way to a dominant period until they got into some penalty trouble.
Coming off a game in Tri City where penalties changed the momentum the T-Birds took three consecutive penalties in the first and allowed Vancouver (3-9-1-1) back into the game when Travis McEvoy found a loose puck and beat Justin Myles. The goal brought the Giants to within one and the lead in shots on goal.
Unlike Friday night the T-Birds were able to pick up their game and drew a late power play after high sticking was called on Trent Lofthouse. Seattle again wasted no time on the power play and extended their lead when Shea Theodore fired a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and into the Vancouver net.
It was Seattle's second power play goal in as many tries and was refreshing after a night where they power play let them down. Both of the power play goals came early into the penalties with the T-Birds picking up both goals on only 15 seconds of power play time.
"It was good to have them (the power play) bounce back after a game that the power play could have been a deciding factor," Steve Konowalchuk said. "Yesterday we had some point shots but we weren't in front (of the net). We thought we were but we were a foot off to the side...today it was get back and make sure we just shoot everything."
The T-Birds had a two goal lead going into the second period and extended it early as Roberts Lipsbergs slid a puck past Lee to give Seattle what seemed like a comfortable 4-1 lead. It was Lipsbergs team leading 11th goal of the season.
It was at this point of the game when the T-Birds started taking penalties. Once again they gave Vancouver momentum and after two Carter Popoff power play goals, one in the second and another early in the third, suddenly the game was tight.
"It was a good start," Konowalchuk said. "That's the bottom line, you can win a lot of hockey games with a good start. The middle part of that game I thought we put in about as minimal amount of effort you can and get by. You play with fire when that happens."
Vancouver had clearly gained some momentum at that point and that's when Myles stood tall, keeping Vancouver at bay until Swenson put the game away with an empty net goal with under a minute left in the game. It was Swenson's second of the game and came a week after he was on the ice when the T-Birds went off sides on what would have been an easy empty net goal during their loss to Prince George last week.
"This one went a lot smoother to say the least," Swenson said with a laugh.
Saturday night was also the debut of newly acquired Jaimen Yakubowski who along with Sam McKechnie were picked up from Lethbridge earlier in the week. The two players arrived in Kent at 4:15 Saturday afternoon, took a quick skate and Yakubowski felt ready to play. Konowlachuk didn't hesitate to put him in the lineup.
"I asked him if he wanted to play and he said 'yeah', " Konowalchuk said of his new player. "He definitely helped us, Troocky got bumped up there and he went in on their line and that was our most dependable defensive line in the third period. It was a great job by him and I sure like the spark and energy he brings."
Seattle is on the ice next against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday at the ShoWare Center.
Brandon Troock left the ice in pain late in the second period. He did not return and Konowalchuk did not know the extent of his injuries.
A night after surrendering six power play chances to Tri City the T-Birds gave Vancouver seven more on Saturday. Taking penalties is a trend that has plagued Seattle somewhat as only four teams in the WHL have given up more power play chances than Seattle has.
McKechnie did not play according to Konowalchuk because he had not been able to skate as much as Yakubowski had while the two players were home awaiting a trade from Lethbridge.
Tuesday's opponents, the Brandon Wheat Kings, are led in net by Connor Honey's twin brother Curtis Honey. Needless to say you can bet Connor would relish a chance to play against his brother but Konowalchuk said his chances of returning were a 'long shot'.
Yakubowski saw plenty of ice time, did not figure in the scoring but did get in a fight and played hard all night.
Roberts Lipsbergs is off to a 'Cy Young' start. The baseball moniker is often given to hockey players who score a lot of goals without assists, thus having their stat line read like a baseball pitchers win-loss record. Lipsberg's reads 11-5. Cy Young indeed.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide.
Saturday, October 26, 2013 @ 4:52am
By Andrew Eide
The Toyota Center in Kennewick continues to trip up the Seattle Thunderbirds. Friday night it was not kind to Seattle as they dropped a 3-2 shoot out game to the Tri City Americans in Kennewick. Seattle got goals from Ryan Gropp and Seth Swenson along with 41 saves from Danny Mumaugh to pick up a point in the standings.
While the T-Birds managed to salvage a point out of this one, it felt like a game that slipped away from them.
"It wasn't good enough," Steve Konowalchuk said. "We had guys who didn't compete hard enough on one-on-one battles and our decision making was bad. Give them (Tri City) credit, they worked hard and they were more tenacious than us. Not good enough on our part."
The game was a strange one from the start. Seattle opened up with some good early pressure only to give up a chance for Lucas Nickles who was tripped up by Justin Hickman. Nickles was awarded a penalty shot that he converted on and Seattle (9-3-0-2) found themselves down a goal early.
For the next ten minutes the T-Birds poured on the pressure.
Less than a minute after the Nickles goal the T-Birds tied the game as Gropp beat Eric Comrie for his first goal, on his first WHL shift. Not a bad start for the highly touted rookie, who had a fairly good WHL debut.
"Pretty good for his first game," Konowalchuk said of Gropp. "You can see his offensive talent, he made some nice plays there, he's got some skill and is a smart player. There's some things without the puck that we will work on him a bit with, but for his first game it was pretty good."
Seattle continued to control the play after the Gropp goal and took the lead two minutes later as Eric Benoit got the puck to Seth Swenson who was able to beat Comrie and it felt like Seattle was off to the races.
That's when things took a turn.
Tri City (7-8-0-1) started pushing back and got the T-Birds on their heels a bit. Hickman took a cross checking penalty late in the period to give the Americans their first power play on the night. That power play turned into a two-man advantage when Jerret Smith was called for tripping. It then became disaster for Seattle as after Mumaugh made a pad save Adam Henry had the rebound go off his skate and past the goalie for the tying goal.
After one period Seattle found themselves tied, giving up a penalty shot goal and an own goal.
"I really liked our first ten minutes but then they made a little push and I don't know if we thought it would be easier," Konowalchuk said. "They made that push and we totally starting circling, didn't stop and start. Those little things, that's why you take penalties, because you're not working smart. We never simplified and got the game going."
The second period saw the T-Birds unable to get out of their own way. They took penalty after penalty, giving the Americans five power play chances and killing any chance they had to get the momentum back.
That seemed to frustrate the T-Birds as they were unable to get consistent traffic in front of Comrie and he made every save for the remainder of the game.
Seattle had two power play chances late in the third, including the last two minutes of regulation but could not convert.
In the shoot out the Americans got a conversion from Jessey Astles and Comrie shut the door on the T-Birds to secure the victory and the second point that was up for grabs.
The T-Birds will get a chance to wipe the bad taste of this one away when they return home to take on the Vancouver Giants Saturday night at the ShoWare Center.
Seattle's power play continues to be a mystery. The players they put out on both units have high offensive skill and it should be resulting in more goals. With their 0-for-5 effort Friday they are now 18th in the league on the power play.
Danny Mumaugh probably deserved a better fate in this game. He made 41 saves and was only beaten on the early penalty shot and an own goal. He was solid and gave the T-Birds a chance to convert.
The T-Birds had their chances early in the game but missed several open net chances as pucks sailed wide of the net. Both Brandon Troock and Roberts Lipsbergs had a couple golden opportunities to extend the lead.
Gropp played on a line with Troock and Alex Delnov and showed some signs of good things to come. Not only did he score on his first WHL shift but he drew a tripping penalty in the third period after a strong move to the net. He was also tapped by Konowalchuk in the shoot out but shot the puck wide.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide
Thursday, October 24, 2013 @ 8:49pm
Jaimen Yakubowski scored 32 goals and added 18 assists last season for Lethbridge (WHL.ca photo)
By Tim Pigulski
The Thunderbirds announced another blockbuster move on Thursday evening, acquiring 19-year-old forwards Jaimen Yakubowski and Sam Mckechnie from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for 19-year old forward Riley Sheen, 17-year-old forward Carter Folk, and a third-round draft choice.
Reports are that Lethbridge General Manager Brad Robson had spoken to at least 15 teams regarding his two forwards and had narrowed that list down to five earlier in the week, including the Thunderbirds.
"The advantage we had [over other teams] is that we had a [19-year-old] and they wanted players to play right now," said Seattle GM Russ Farwell. "They didn't want just futures. There's not a lot of depth in the league so it's hard to give up players who can play right now. If you want to add a 19, you have to give one up, which put a lot of teams out of the running. I think we had a little more that Lethbridge was looking for. We were maybe a little more motivated to do it and we got on it right away."
Yakubowski and Mckechnie had both been sent home last week after requesting trades from the Hurricanes. Neither had been able to get their offensive games going for a Lethbridge team that currently sits in last place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-11-0-1 record, which included a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Thunderbirds on Oct. 5.
"Both of these guys have real solid reputations, character-wise," said Farwell of the two newest T-Birds. "[Being sent home] in this case didn't influence our decision much, although it usually does. Guys often ask for trades and walk out on their team, and that's not usually something that makes them more attractive. I thought things transpired differently here though. They asked for a trade and their coach chose to send them home; they didn't try and force it. We have scouts who knew their history and we felt we knew enough that it wasn't going to be an issue."
Last season Yakubowski, a 5 feet 11, 202 pound left wing, scored 50 points in 66 games, including 32 goals, to go along with 126 penalty minutes.
"We just didn't think we were deep enough in some areas, on our special teams and in some other areas," acknowledged Farwell. "Yakubowski is a 30-goal scorer and also had 14 fighting majors. He plays with a real grit and his style will fit in and be good for us."
Mckechnie tallied 43 points on 26 goals and 17 assists while playing in all 72 games. Before this year, the Airdrie, Alberta native had not missed a single game while playing two full seasons with the Hurricanes.
"He's a real worker and responsible guy on both sides of the puck," said Farwell of Mckechnie. "He'll fit in real well and add to our special teams. Both guys will fill out our roster and give it a more complete feel. We can put together four very solid lines now."
Sheen, a talented left wing acquired prior to last season from Medicine Hat, arrived in Seattle with an offensive pedigree but this season displayed not only a strong defensive acumen, but the willingness to accept any he was assigned.
"Sheen had been good and he was a hard guy for us to give up," said Farwell. "He was a key guy for us to trade to get these two guys, and it's hard to get something without giving something up."
Folk, on the other hand, hadn't seen much playing time this year but displayed a fearlessness that any team would be glad to have.
"I think he's going to develop and be a very hard guy to play against, but he wasn't playing here and had we added anyone he just wasn't going to get an opportunity. He's been a good soldier here, but just because of where we're at as a team, it didn't look like there was going to be much playing time for him."
The trade shows that the Thunderbirds are planning on making a big run this year, likely fueled by a fast start and the recent addition of Ryan Gropp, as well as defenseman Adam Henry, a former teammate of Yakubowski and Mckechnie's in Lethbridge. Sitting at 9-3-0-1 and tied for fourth place in the Western Conference, the acquisition of two more players with two-way potential will put Seattle in an even better position to dethrone the Portland Winterhawks as the class of the U.S. Division.
"[The trade] says we think our team is competitive and has a chance," said Farwell when asked of his expectations. "But we didn't think we were quite there yet. This just looked like a good move for us to give us a chance and keep us in the race. We have to grow and we haven't won anything yet, and these guys didn't come from a winning situation so we're not expecting them to lead us, but the character is strong enough that we think they can grow with us and we felt they were good additions. We've shown we're competitive and I don't know if there's a more physical team in our division, and I think that's how we're going to be successful."
The main concern with this trade seems to be that the Thunderbirds have further cluttered their 19-year-old age class, currently occupied by forwards Justin Hickman, Connor Honey, Branden Troock, and defensemen Henry and Evan Wardley. Import picks Alex Delnov and Roberts Lipsbergs, both 19 as well, appear unlikely to be with the team during their overage seasons. As the league only allows a team to carry three 20-year-olds, the roster will look very different next season than it does now.
"The last couple of years, the prices have gotten so expensive at the deadline that we just thought that now might be the time to act and fill out or team rather than later. We originally inquired for one player, and then eventually asked what it'd take to get both." said Farwell of the package he received. "They weren't offered as a package deal, but Carter was really attractive to them and this trade really fills out our team in a way that gives us real balance and allows us to come at you from a number of different ways."
Having missed a bit of time due to being sent home, it's unlikely that we'll see either player suit up. Certainly not Friday, according to Farwell, but Saturday remains a slim possibility, with Tuesday remaining the goal.
"They haven't been practicing so we'd like to see them practice and get out there with the team. Depends how quickly they get going. Saturday isn't impossible, but definitely not Friday."
The Thunderbirds now feature a roster laden with veterans and four lines that should be able to match up against any team's best. After a stronger start than most expected, Seattle continues to build on a foundation that looks like it's ready to compete sooner rather than later.
Follow Tim on Twitter @tpigulski.
Thursday, October 24, 2013 @ 5:08pm
Riley Sheen will be chasing pucks for Lethbridge after Thursday's trade from Seattle (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
Seattle Thunderbirds General Manager Russ Farwell on Thursday announced a block-buster trade involving four players. Seattle has acquired 19-year-old forwards Jaimen Yakubowski and Sam McKechnie from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for Riley Sheen, Carter Folk and a third round pick in the 2015 Bantam Draft.
Yakubowski and McKechnie were two of Lethbridge's top scorers last year as Yakubowski potted 32 goals and 50 points. McKechnie chipped in 26 goals and 43 points for the Hurricanes. The point totals were good for second and third on the team in scoring and first and second in goal scoring.
The Hurricanes are off to a horrible start on the ice and turmoil off it. Both Yakubowski and McKechnie had requested trades from the club and elected to return home until a trade was made. The situation in Lethbridge appears to be a pretty negative one when two of your returning leading scorers want out at the same time. Neither player had been off to a great start to this year - each with one goal a piece.
In return the T-Birds are losing Sheen who is coming off his best week of the season and had three goals and eight points in 12 games with Seattle this year. He is the key piece going back to Lethbridge and Seattle will have to find someone to bring the energy and hard work that he brought every night. Folk had appeared in seven games for Seattle and had yet to register a point.
This is the second trade that Seattle and Lethbridge have consummated with each other. Seattle picked up defenseman Adam Henry two weeks ago in exchange for defenseman Griffin Foulk. After his first home game with Seattle Henry was all smiles to be with the T-Birds which may say a lot about the situation with the Hurricanes.
Tim Pigulski will have more analysis on this trade later on tonight so check back with us for that.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 @ 7:37pm
Riley Sheen had a strong week for the T-Birds (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
Our three stars feature returns this week after taking a Ryan Gropp inspired break last week. With the big news breaking last Wednesday there was a lot of excitement for an already exciting season. The T-Birds had an up and down week that saw them drop games they probably shouldn't have and ended the weekend with a solid 6-3 win against Swift Current.
Despite the two losses there were some good performances from Seattle players this week. Here are our three stars of the week - feel free to tell us who you're three stars were.
Third Star - Shea Theodore
The T-Birds star defenseman had a good week for Seattle as he picked up a goal and three assists. He has had a strong start to the year and has a nice four game point streak -- along with points in seven out of his last nine games. Since returning from Anaheim the first round draft pick looks stronger at both ends of the ice. He mentioned after Saturday's game that he learned some tricks from the NHL defenseman he played with in the Ducks camp. That is all good news for Seattle as Theodore is off to a hot start and is always a candidate to take a game over.
Second Star - Mathew Barzal
It's unclear what is more impressive about Barzal's start to his rookie year. Is it the fact that he leads the team in scoring with 19 points? Is the fact that he also leads the team in plus/minus with an impressive plus-10. Whichever it is the young center had a solid week again making plays for the T-Birds. He ended the week picking up four points in the three games as he continued to set up his teammates in good scoring areas. Barzal is now carrying an eight game point streak into this weekend's games -- that's pretty impressive as well.
First Star - Riley Sheen
Sheen was Seattle's best player in their loss at Kamploops last week and he carried that great play into the weekend. He was rewarded with a promotion to the Branden Troock-Alex Delnov line and he stepped up with two goals and an assist. Sheen has always displayed tremendous offensive acumen, but along with that he has been a versatile player for Steve Konowalchuk. He kills penalties, he is aggressive on the forecheck and often is asked to shut down the opponents top lines. Our own Tim Pigulski asked him about his role with the team after Saturday's game against Swift Current.
"I like to fashion myself as a two-way player," Sheen said. "I try to play both ends of the ice well and contribute offensively when I can. Steve (Konowalchuk) says we've got to keep it tight in our own end, try to do the right things back there and a strong defense leads to a strong offense."
Sheen is off to a good start with eight points in the team's first 12 games to go along with his fine defensive play.
Russ Farwell - It's not often that we give the general manager of the team a star but with the arrival of Ryan Gropp to Seattle we have to recognize Farwell here. There was a ton of speculation and gnashing of teeth over whether or not the former first round bantam pick was going to come to Seattle. Farwell stayed the course, kept the lines of communication open and accepting and finally was able to land their guy.
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