Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brothers in Goal: Chet & Calvin Pickard find success in net

Calvin (L) & Chet (R) Pickard (Photo: Cathy & Bill Pickard)

The name “Pickard” instills excitement in many hockey fans… and apprehension in many hockey players, and it doesn’t matter which first name you pair with it.

Chet Pickard (Photo courtesy: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Admirals)

Chet – the WHL’s Goaltender of the year in 2007-08 and 2008-09. One of two goaltenders for Team Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championships. Named to the WHL West First All-Star Team in 2008 and 2009 for his stellar play in net for the Tri City Americans. Drafted 18th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators. Now making his mark with the Preds’ AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.

Calvin Pickard (Photo Courtesy: Mick White/Kent Valley Sports)

Calvin – member of Canada’s Under-18 Team that took gold over the summer at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. One of two goaltenders who helped Team WHL pull of a series sweep at the Subway Super Series tournament in Victoria in November. Just selected to play in the NHL Prospects game on January 20 in Windsor, Ontario (more information here). Currently ranked #1 among WHL goalies by Central Scouting for his amazing play in net for the Seattle Thunderbirds, including two memorable (some would say “amazing”) games against his brother’s old team, Tri City.
October 2, 2009. Calvin stops 57 out of 57 shots to help the T-Birds beat the Americans 1-0 and earn his first shutout of the season. (We’ll talk about the second game a little later).
When asked what he remembers about that 57-stop game, Calvin says, “It was one of those nights where everything kind of went well for me: got some calls, got some blocks, our defense played pretty well, clearing out rebounds so everything just clicked.”
Chet’s amazed about his brother’s feat, but not surprised. “It’s pretty impressive. You’re not going to see many of those around. I don’t think many people out there can do that. Calvin’s a really good goalie. Calvin’s been good since the first day he put on the pads.”
That’s high praise coming from a guy known for his cool play between the pipes. But Chet will quickly tell you that he believes Calvin has more natural ability in goal, while Chet has had to work hard to hone his skills. Calvin agrees that he is the more natural athlete, but says he learned a lot from watching his brother. “He’s got a great work ethic and he’s really disciplined. He’s earned everything he’s gotten to this day.”
Their father Dan says Chet and Calvin have different strengths – and have been able to help each other fill a void. “At a younger age, Calvin showed a lot more, I’ll call it, stronger mental game than his older brother, and his older brother had a stronger physical game than his younger brother. It’s kind of an interesting dynamic that we watched take place. Calvin is much more into the physical aspect and preparation in his game now and Chet is much, much stronger in the mental part of his game than he was when he was younger.”
Chet, being two years older than his 17 year old brother, made the first foray into net around the age of 7 or 8, while playing for a Timbits team in New Brunswick. “I just remember playing at that age when everybody had to be the goalie for a game and when my turn came around, I really enjoyed it.”
Dan says Chet’s future was sealed with help from a little mix-up at hockey camp that summer. “We showed up at camp with his little bag of hockey gear and the guy who was organizing the camp said, ‘We have him down as a goaltender.’ I said, ‘Well, he’s not a goaltender, he played only one game.’ And Chet looked up at me and said, ‘I’d like to play in goal.’” The man running the camp owned a second hand equipment store and got Chet some goaltending gear. At the end of camp, the organizers told Dan that Chet showed a natural ability in net, noting, among other things, “He doesn’t twitch when the puck is shot at him.”
Calvin says he decided to try goaltending because Chet played goalie, but Dan says Calvin could have played any position. “He was a very talented player no matter whether he played forward or defense.” Calvin played goal through his team’s playoffs, and when he tried out for an elite team the next season, Dan was told Calvin would have to choose which position to try out for. “That was when Calvin decided he wanted to become a goaltender full time.”

Calvin at 10 years old (Photo Courtesy: Cathy & Bill Pickard)

Dan says it was easier to raise two goaltenders, even though Chet and Calvin grew up playing on different teams. “It was easy for them to bounce thoughts and ideas and have a healthy relationship competitive-wise and healthy respect for each other. It made it easier for my wife and I to deal with both of them because we could compare and support them both the same way.”
The biggest challenge? Juggling schedules and games, but Dan and his wife Cathy seem to have made it work.  “We tried to have one parent at every one of their games. I’m a bit of a hockey… I wouldn’t say fanatic but very dedicated to the sport, so I went to most practices. At least one of us would be at every game, depending on what our travel or work schedules would be.”
Last season, they had a difficult decision to make: Who would go see Chet play with Team Canada in the World Junior Championships in Ottawa, and who would go to Port Alberni to watch Calvin play with Team West in the World Under-17 tournament? Dan thought Cathy would opt for Ottawa, since she has family there, but she surprised him.
“My wife said, ‘I’m going to watch Calvin if Chet makes World Juniors.’ My daughter came with me to Ottawa and we watched Chet in the World Juniors.”
Chet and Calvin say they don’t have the words to express their gratitude. Says Chet: “My parents are unreal with the support they gave us. They put a lot of miles on their cars and a lot of money out of their pockets for us. Hopefully one day we can reward them by both playing in the NHL and sending them on a cruise somewhere.” (Chet laughs) “It’s exciting to have the biggest hockey parents around. They love us and they take care of us and they support us no matter how tough of times we go through.”
Calvin agrees: “I give them so much credit, for driving us to the rink, being there for every little situation we had with hockey, to things like making us food, paying the gas bill to drive us everywhere. Having Chet and me both being goalies, you don’t see that too often. We love our parents, they’re good people and everything we did together was happy and they had fun doing it.”
With such a close-knit family, how hard was it for Chet and Calvin to travel so far from home to play junior hockey? Dan said both boys looked forward to the adventure. “In Chet’s case, he did not want to be close to home. He wanted to be further away. In Calvin’s case, he wanted to go to a big city. It just so happened that both boys got drafted to the same state.”
Chet loved playing for Tri City. “It was really good for me, right from Day One. The whole organization, from the owners to the coaches, they all really supported me. They gave me all the chances in the world. When I was 18 and finally took over the starting job (after Carey Price left to play for the Montreal Canadiens), they prepared me well. I’ve got a lot of respect for what they do there in the Tri Cities. Everybody is first class and they really treated me well and supported me well, even through the tough games.”
What’s his best memory with the Ams? “That one year when we finally hung our first banner there (US Division Champions 2008) and how excited everybody was when we beat Spokane in the final game of the season, to raise that banner. It was an exciting season, not only for the players but the fans, who have stuck around for the 20-odd years they’ve been there.”
Calvin says his transition from home to the WHL has also been smooth. “Since the whole organization has played such a huge role in making this a comfortable spot to play, I feel the transition has been rather easy. The coaching staff, Paul Fricker, my goalie coach, have been a great help for me physically on the ice and mentally. Lastly, I could not possibly have better teammates then what I have right now. They are always in good spirits and a pleasure to be around.”
Both say they benefited from having wonderful and supportive billet families, who remain close with all the Pickards.
Chet says his biggest challenge in moving from the WHL to AHL is the lifestyle change, both on and off the ice. “You get to a level like this and everybody’s quicker, everybody can shoot the puck harder. My biggest thing is, I’ve gotta be quicker. I’m working on agility drills off the ice and when it comes to being on the ice, just pushing myself every day and getting out of my comfort zone.”
Chet says he looks to former Tri City teammate and friend Carey Price for inspiration. “Carey’s a unique guy. Most goalies don’t play in the NHL right after their last year in juniors. Carey was in a situation where he could do that. He’s got a lot of pressure on him in Montreal but the first two games of this year, he stood on his head and won the games for his team.  I look up to Carey. He’s a great goalie and a great friend and he’s helped me out so much.”
Chet’s using his time in Milwaukee to prepare and give himself the best chance to play well, once he reaches the NHL. “I’m here to work hard every single day, just do what I do, control what I can control and see what happens.”
He’s also learning to live on his own. “I’d say that’s one of the biggest adjustments – managing your own time, cooking your own meals, paying the bills and all that. You’ve got to manage your time and manage what you do. It’s a big change but I’m getting used to it.”
These are things that Calvin will also have to get used to. He’ll turn 18 in April and is eligible for the NHL Entry Draft, which takes place in Los Angeles in June. If he continues his stellar play, there’s no doubt that he will be drafted high in the first round.  He’s on everyone’s radar and has been featured in a number of articles, including a profile on  But Calvin is trying to remain level headed about things.
“You try and not let yourself get overwhelmed by those things. I want to have the attitude I’ve had all my life – just go out and play every game, treat every game the same, prepare the exact same way, just be the best goalie you can be every day and at the end of the day, it will hopefully fall into place.”
How did a 17 year old get so level-headed? Father Dan says watching the hoopla that surrounded Chet helps, but that Calvin has always been on an even keel. “One thing they both understand is that it’s very fleeting. It’s all about work and it’s all about productivity.  I think he (Calvin) knows how to keep it (the attention) separate from what he knows his day-to-day job is, which is stopping pucks for Seattle.”
Speaking of stopping pucks, remember that amazing game against the Tri City Americans on October 2, where Calvin stopped 57 shots for a 1-0 shutout win? The Ams traveled to ShoWare Center in Kent again on December 11th. This time, Calvin stopped 54 out of 55 shots to help the T-Birds win 5-1. His save percentage is 0.924, second highest in the WHL, behind James Reid of Spokane.
And Chet? He’s finding his feet in Milwaukee and gaining confidence. His save percentage: a respectable 0.910. Calvin has no doubt his brother will shine in the pros. “Chet’s an unbelievable goalie. He tore up this league (WHL) for the past couple of seasons in Tri City and was part of the reason they were so good. There’s no reason he can’t do it at the next level and then soon to be the NHL, too.”
Dan and Cathy and daughter Kelly are content to watch Chet and Calvin use their passion and talent to their best ability. “When you think of the numbers of kids that are playing, and being able to have that level of success for one, let alone two, is just crazy. It’s really kind of unbelievable but we give all the credit to their coaches, to the boys themselves for the work effort and the passion they put into the game. I end every one of my text messages, ‘Good luck and have fun.’”
The Pickards are busy planning their travel schedule for the rest of the season. They won’t have to go far to see Chet play in January: the Admirals travel to Winnipeg play the Canucks’ AHL team, the Manitoba Moose.  In the meantime, they’ll keep in daily touch with Chet and Calvin by phone, text and internet… and maybe dream of a little California sunshine in June.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

WHL: T-Birds win in OT; 'Tips lose at home

T-Birds beat Spokane 3-2 in OT

The Seattle Thunderbirds notched a victory on the road in Spokane, beating the Chiefs 3-2 in overtime. Spokane got on the board first, as Mitch Wahl scored late in the first period, assisted by Kenton Miller and Tanner Mort. The T-Birds tied things up early in the second period, on an unassisted goal by Mikhail Sentyurin (his second of the season).

Prab Rai put Seattle ahead early in the third, scoring his 21st goal, with help from Lindsay Nielsen and Erik Fleming. The Chiefs came back to tie things up halfway through the period. Anthony Bardaro found a way past Calvin Pickard at 11:06. Brady Brassart and Corbin Baldwin got the assists.

The game headed into overtime and it looked as though it would end in a shootout, but with 23 seconds left on the clock, Charles Wells teamed up with Jeremy Schappert and Brenden Dillon put the puck past Spokane goaltender James Reid, to give the T-Birds a win over a strong Chiefs team. Final score: Seattle 3, Spokane 2. Shots on goal: Seattle 30, Spokane 25. Three Stars of the Game: 1. Mitch Wahl (Spokane) 2. Prab Rai (Seattle) 3. Charles Wells (Seattle).

The T-Birds return home to ShoWare Center in Kent tonight to face the Swift Current Broncos, their last game before the Christmas holiday. The puck drops at 7:05 and tickets are still available. Just click here for more information.

Tri City shuts out Everett 3-0

The Tri City Americans brought their physical, high-shooting game into Comcast Arena and shut out the Everett Silvertips. Justin Feser scored the first goal for the Ams 9:30 into the first period on a power play, as Daniel Iwanski sat in the box on a boarding call. Jordan Messier and Brooks Macek assisted. Tri City struck again late in the first. Johnny Lazo scored his 20th goal of the season on a shorthanded play at 15:14, while teammate Patrick Holland served a hooking penalty. Justin Feser was credited with the assist.

Lazo struck again in the final minute of the third period, finding an empty net. Sophomore goaltender Drew Owsley turned away all 32 of the Silvertips’ shots, while Everett netminder Kent Simpson did an admirable job blocking a majority of Tri City’s 40 shots. Final score: Tri City 3, Everett 0. Three Stars of the Game: 1. Drew Owsley (Tri City) 2. Justin Feser (Tri City) 3. Kent Simpson (Everett)

The Silvertips boarded a bus after last night’s game to travel to Chilliwack, BC. They face the Bruins tonight at 7:00 in their last game before the Christmas holiday. For more information on the ‘Tips’ home schedule, click here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

WHL: Silvertips hold off Swift Current in a 3-2 win

The Swift Current Broncos don’t visit Western Washington often, but they’ve left their mark on Comcast Arena, beating the Everett Silvertips the last two times they played here.  Last night, the Silvertips made sure the third time wasn’t a charm for the boys from Saskatchewan.
The first period featured a lot of aggressive play by both teams, but not a lot of pressure for Everett netminder Kent Simpson, as the ‘Tips did a great job of shutting down the Broncos’ strong offense. Everett also kept Swift Current goaltender Mark Friesen busy, as they outshot the Broncos 2-to-1.  All that shooting paid off. Daniel Iwanski found the back of the net 12:20 into the period. D. Jay McGrath got the assist.  On the very next faceoff, Shane Harper teamed up with Chris Langkow to put the ‘Tips up by 2. (For anyone who’s counting, those two goals came 39 seconds apart).  When the first period ended, the score remained: Everett 2, Swift Current 0. Shots on goal: Swift Current 6, Everett 12.
The second period featured more pushing and shoving, especially in front of each team’s net, and a number of hard hits into the boards, but this 20 minute block went by pretty quickly, as neither team seemed to be able to find a chink in the opposing goaltender’s armor.  That is, until the final five minutes of the period. Everett center Chris Langkow slipped one past Mark Friesen at 15:55, with help from Daniel Iwanski and Scott MacDonald. The Silvertips rode a 3-goal lead into the locker room at the 40 minute mark. Shots on goal: Swift Current 6, Everett 9.
Swift Current came alive in the third period, dominating the ice and driving the action down to Everett’s end again and again. It seemed inevitable that the Broncos would eventually score, and about 8 minutes into the period, Cody Eakin finally got the best of Kent Simpson and put the Broncos on the board. Justin Dowling and Travis Bobbee were credited with the assists. Swift Current defenseman Jordan Evans scored his first goal of the season 7 minutes later on a power play, as D. Jay McGrath sat in the box, after being called for goaltender interference following a play where a Bronco apparently tripped McGrath, sending him crashing into Friesen. Many fans considered this an unfair penalty call and showed the referees their displeasure by booing loudly. The final four minutes of the third period turned into a major game of “keep away”, as the Silvertips fought to preserve their one-goal lead. Nearly every one of the 3738 people at Comcast Arena jumped to their feet to cheer on the ‘Tips during the final minute and with 5 seconds left on the clock, Swift Current desperately tried to tie things up, but the Silvertips prevailed. Final score: Everett 3, Swift Current 2. Shots on goal: Swift Current 8, Everett 2.  The Three Stars of the Game:  1. Chris Langkow (Everett) 2. Daniel Iwanski (Everett) 3. Justin Dowling (Swift Current)
Notes:  New Everett defenseman Curtis Kulchar joined the lineup for last night’s game. The Silvertips traded a 2011 5th round draft pick to acquire the 19-year-old from the Kamloops Blazers. According to a Silvertips news release, Kulchar has played with the Blazers, the Vancouver Giants and the Regina Pats. He’s from Martensville, Saskatchewan. Kulchar will have his work cut out for him, as several defensemen leave to take part in the World Junior Championships over the Christmas and New Year holidays, including standout Radko Gudas, who’s in the lineup for his home country, the Czech Republic.
For more information about the Everett Silvertips, click here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

WHL: Pickard stops 54 shots; helps T-Birds trounce Tri City 5-1

(Photo Courtesy: Mick White/Kent Valley Sports)

The first time the Seattle Thunderbirds faced the Tri City Americans at home this season, goaltender Calvin Pickard played like gangbusters, stopping 57 of 57 shots to mark a 1-0 shutout win. That was back on October 2. Since then, Tri City has taken two from the T-Birds, including one that ended in a shootout. Last night, The Americans rolled back into ShoWare Center, looking for its third victory over Seattle. But they didn’t bargain on a team that’s been steadily improving, nearly 4,000 rabid fans… and Calvin Pickard. Pickard stopped 54 out of 55 shots, and a number of T-Birds stepped up to score, including two who recorded their first goals of the season.

Tri City got on the board first, just after 4 minutes into the first period. Neal Prokop scored, with help from Mason Wilgosh and Justin Feser. After that, the game turned into the T-Birds show. Mikhail Sentyurin scored his first goal this season, on a pass from Erik Fleming and Erik Bonsor. The first period went by pretty quickly, with Tri City nearly doubling Seattle in shots on goal (22-13), but Pickard and Tri City goaltender Drew Owsley stayed on their toes and both teams hit the locker rooms tied up 1-1.

The second period looked as though it would be a repeat of the first, with the Americans outshooting the T-Birds nearly 2 to 1, and Calvin Pickard blocking every shot. At the other end of the ice, Drew Owsley was playing just as hard and keeping T-Birds from scoring. More than half the period would go by before Seattle found a way past him. Prab Rai scored his 20th goal of the season at 13:05. Charles Wells and Jeremy Schappert assisted in this power play score. Scott Ramsay struck exactly four minutes later (at 17:05), notching his first goal in a T-Birds uniform, with help from Tyler Alos and Jeremy Schappert. The second period ended with Tri City still outshooting Seattle 18-9, but the T-Birds leading 2-1.

The third period got pretty chippy, as the Americans fought to tie things up. A number of penalties and one big fight involving several players set the tone for the final 20 minutes of regulation. Tyler Alos scored about 8 minutes in to put Seattle up 3-1. Jeremy Schappert was credited with the assist, for his third point of the game. About 3 minutes later, T-Birds Captain Lindsay Nielsen teamed up with Prab Rai and Charles Wells to put Seattle up 5-1. Sixty seconds after that, a brawl erupted on the ice. When the referees regained control, four players were slapped with various penalties: The Americans’ Jordan Messier was called for clipping, while Cody Castro received a 5 minute major for fighting. Zachary Yuen also got 5 minutes for fighting, as well as a game misconduct. T-Birds Brendan Rouse and Sena Acolatse received 5 minutes for fighting. Acolatse also got a game misconduct.

With 8 minutes left to play in regulation, Tri City pulled Drew Owsley out of net and replaced him with Brett Martyniuk, who kept the T-Birds from scoring again. But the damage was done, and when the clock ran out, T-Birds fans headed for the doors, talking about another exciting Seattle win and the amazing play by their sophomore goaltender. Final score: Seattle 5, Tri City 1. Total shots on goal: Tri City 55, Seattle 28. Three Stars of the Game: 1. Calvin Pickard 2. Jeremy Schappert 3. Tyler Alos.

The Seattle Thunderbirds drive up to Everett tonight to face the Silvertips at Comcast Arena. The puck drops at 7:05pm. For more information, click here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

WHL: T-Birds' D-Man Chaffin retires from hockey

(Photo Courtesy: Seattle Thunderbirds)

The Seattle Thunderbirds are losing one of their tough defensemen.  Steve Chaffin has decided to retire from hockey.  In a news release from the team, Chaffin said, “I have enjoyed my three years with the T-Birds but after suffering multiple concussions, I have decided not to risk further injury.”

Chaffin’s latest injury came during a very physical match against the Kamloops Blazers on October 20 at ShoWare Center. During the first period, he took a hard hit that sent him crashing into the boards. He left the ice and did not return.

T-Birds General Manager Russ Farwell is sad to lose his big d-man. “Steve was a valuable member of our team and will be missed,” he said in a news release. “But this decision is in his long term best interest and we support his decision and wish him well.”

Chaffin played 17 games this season and posted 5 assists and 21 penalty minutes. He has a +/- rating of +1. In his 3 years with the T-Birds, Chaffin played a total of 100 games and registered 7 assists.  He also racked up an impressive number of hits and defensive plays.

He will take advantage of the scholarship program offered by the Western Hockey League (WHL). Says Farwell, “Steve will take the rest of this year to determine his field of interest and will move on to make use of the WHL Scholarship.”

WHL players who are not drafted by an NHL team or signed to a pro team after completing their 20 year old seasons can elect to go to college, fully paid for by the WHL, for each year that they played in the league. Hundreds of colleges and universities take part in the WHL scholarship program.

T-Birds fans will sorely miss Chaffin manning the blue line, but surely wish him good health and good luck in whatever he decides to tackle next.

For more information on the Seattle Thunderbirds, their players, schedule and special events, click here.
To learn more about the WHL and its programs, click here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

AHL: New blog by Mitch Love

There's a new Mitch Love blog up at the KING 5 site. This time, the Peoria Rivermen tough guy talks about returning to Houston (as the opponent!) and facing off against former Everett Silvertips teammate Riley Armstrong and his new team the Abbotsford Heat.

Here's the link:

WHL: T-Birds offer online ticket special to Friday's game v. Tri City to benefit fallen Lakewood Police Officers

Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips fans helped raise at least $10,000 Saturday night, to help benefit the Lakewood Police Department’s Independent Guild.  The money will be used to help support the families of four Lakewood police officers gunned down on November 29th.  The money was donated during the game between the T-Birds and ‘Tips, which Seattle won, 3-2.  $10,000 is a pretty heft amount to collect at any time, but not for the T-Birds organization. They want to do more. And they’re making it easy for fans to help.
This Wednesday (December 9th) between 9am and 9pm, 100% of every ticket sold online to Friday’s game between the T-Birds and Tri City Americans, will go to the Lakewood Police Department.  You did not misread this.  The Thunderbirds and ShoWare Center are donating 100% of proceeds from every ticket sold between 9am and 9pm on Wednesday, December 9th.  Just go to for more information about the online ticket special.
This note:  The Tri City Americans sit atop the WHL’s US Division, whereas the T-Birds are in last place, but don’t let this fool you.  Seattle beat Tri City 1-0 early in the season, with a thrilling performance by 17 year old goaltender Calvin Pickard. Calvin stopped 57 shots to shut out the Americans. Many fans can’t wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

WHL: T-Birds honor slain officers, then defeat Silvertips 3-2

(Photo Courtesy: Mick White/Kent Valley Sports) - See more pix of the game by clicking here.

The sound of bagpipes evokes strong emotion among anyone who hears them. Lately, people living in Western Washington have heard that too much, as the community mourned the deaths of five police officers in the last two months. Last night, the sound of bagpipes filled ShoWare Center in a mournful song of remembrance, honor and tribute. Last night, the Seattle Thunderbirds invited the Lakewood Police Department’s Independent Guild to be part of their game against the Everett Silvertips. Last night, the T-Birds invited law enforcement officers from around the region to come to Kent and forget about their caseloads and their heavy hearts, even if only for a couple of hours. And last night, 4,694 fans showed their love and appreciation for the men and women who uphold the oath to “serve and protect.”  (To see the story done by Tricia Manning-Smith and Michael Bachety of KING 5 TV, click here.)

The teams took the ice in their usual fashion, to the sounds of upbeat music. Goaltenders Calvin Pickard and San Jose Sharks signee Thomas Heemskerk got busy cutting up the ice in front of their respective nets. Players skated around, making grooves in the smooth surface in common pre-game frenzy. The starting lineups were announced. Then, a moment of silence to remember Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Greg Richards, Officer Tina Griswold and Officer Ronald Owens, the four Lakewood Police officers gunned down last Sunday morning inside a cafĂ© as they prepared to begin their shift. As the moment of silence swelled, the strains of “Amazing Grace” floated up from the ice, played by 3 bagpipers. A young man continued the emotional tribute, with a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”. Two Lakewood Police officers met T-Birds Captain Lindsay Nielsen and Silvertips Captain Zack Dailey at center ice for the ceremonial puck drop, to thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd. And then, the game got underway, hopefully taking people’s minds away from their troubled to cheer on their favorite local teams.

Seattle struck quickly. Vancouver Canucks prospect Prab Rai teamed up with Lindsay Nielsen and Charles Wells to put the T-Birds up 1-0, just 6:19 into the first period. The three connected for the T-Birds’ second goal five minutes later during a power play, as Silvertip Tyler Maxwell sat out an interference call. The three dazzled with a tic tac toe effort that ended with Rai shooting the puck past Everett goalie Thomas Heemskerk. Seattle scored one more time in the first period, again on the power play. This time, Rasmus Rissanen sat in the box for hooking. This time, Brendan Rouse scored for the T-Birds, with help from Philadelphia Flyers prospect Sena Acolatse and Jonathan Parker. The T-Birds went to the locker room after the first period, sitting on a comfortable 3-0 lead. (SOG: Everett 8, Seattle 14)

The second period went by pretty quickly and with a lot of aggressive, back and forth play. The Silvertips drove the puck again and again into Seattle’s end and found a way past T-Birds goalie Calvin Pickard 3 minutes into the period. Los Angeles Kings prospect Tyler Maxwell drove up the ice and scored on an unassisted play. This period featured four penalties (2 for each team): Kellan Tochkin/Everett: high sticking at 5:01; Mikhail Sentyurin/Seattle: interference at 7:38; Zack Dailey/Everett: hooking at 17:32; Tyler Alos/Seattle: high sticking at 17:32. The second period ended with the T-Birds still in the lead, 3-1. (SOG: Everett 9, Seattle 13)

The Everett Silvertips really turned up the heat in the third period. They seemed to steal the puck again and again and keep the play in Seattle’s end. They even fired off some pretty dangerous shots at Pickard. A powerful one by Vancouver Canucks signee Kellan Tochkin hit the upper post of the net and bounced away. The T-Birds kicked up their play a notch to try to match the Silvertips’ aggressiveness. They found ways to knock the puck away from their net and into neutral territory. Players went toe to toe, digging for the puck. They missed passes, then regained control. The Silvertips found one more opportunity to score, on a power play at 14:22 while Brendan Rouse served a hooking penalty. Once more, Tyler Maxwell single-handedly took the puck to Seattle’s net and scored this 19th goal of the season. The ‘Tips were now within one goal of tying the game and had plenty of time in which do it. They turned on all the jets, but on this night, the T-Birds were not willing to lose their lead. Within the final minute and a half of the period, Prab Rai scored an empty-net goal that would have closed the door on the Silvertips’ efforts to tie things up, and give Rai a hat trick on the night. As a matter of fact, a few hats came flying out of the crowd before Tom Helm announced that the goal had been called back because the T-Birds were off-sides. That didn’t deter the T-Birds. And on this night, they would prevail. As the crowd counted down the final ten seconds in the third period, the Silvertips rushed the net. A T-Bird (I can’t remember who), got a piece of the puck and fired it down the ice. The game ended with the final score: Seattle 3, Everett 2. (SOG: Everett 11, Seattle 7. SOG for the game: Everett 28, Seattle 34).

A couple of notes: Prab Rai scored his 18th and 19th goals of the season. He’s riding a 9-game point streak and has scored in 7 of those 9 games. He leads the team with 35 points (19 goals + 16 assists), ten points ahead of Jonathan Parker, the next high scorer on the team. Tyler Maxwell is second in scoring for the Silvertips, with 19 goals and 11 assists for 30 goals. Shane Harper leads the team with 37 points (20 goals and 17 assists). Kellan Tochkin rounds out the top 3 scorers for Everett, with 25 points (6 goals and 19 assists).

The Seattle Thunderbirds have a week off, before facing the Tri City Americans next Friday, December 11 at ShoWare Center. You can find more information about the T-Birds’ schedule and players by clicking here. The Everett Silvertips welcome the Portland Winterhawks to Comcast Arena on Tuesday, December 8. You can find more information about the Silvertips’ schedule and players by clicking here.

Another note: After the game, the T-Birds invited all women at the game to come out onto the ice and shoot for a ham, courtesy of Fred Meyer. Hundreds of women took part in the challenge. I don’t know how many actually walked away with a ham.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

WHL: T-Birds to honor fallen police officers at tonight's game - tickets available!

There are three great reasons to make the drive to ShoWare Center in Kent for a hockey game tonight:
1. The Seattle Thunderbirds
2. The Everett Silvertips
3. The Lakewood Police Department's Independent Guild will be on hand, collecting donations for a Memorial fund in tribute to four police officers who were gunned down last weekend as they sat in a cafe, taking notes and preparing for their shift.

All law enforcement officers will also receive four free tickets to tonight's game, and the T-Birds and 'Tips plan to observe a moment of silence before the opening puck drop, to remember men and women who have been killed in the line of duty. And with an arena filled with hockey fans from around Western Washington, it's sure to be an emotional night. 

For more information about the Lakewood police shooting investigation, go to for full coverage.  For more information about tonight's activities at ShoWare Center, read on:
Seattle Thunderbirds News Release:

Kent, December 2, 2009 - The Seattle Thunderbirds organization appreciates all that the law enforcement community does to keep citizens safe and secure. The entire Thunderbirds organization was shocked and saddened by the tragic events that unfolded in Lakewood on Sunday.
The Lakewood Police Independent Guild will be in attendance at the game against the Everett Silvertips on Saturday, December 5, at ShoWare Center accepting monetary donations for the Guild. All donations and proceeds that the Guild obtains go to the children of fallen officers in a trust.
To show our appreciation the T-Birds are offering all police officers four free tickets to the game on Saturday against the Silvertips. Police officers who show acceptable identification at the ShoWare Center box office will receive their tickets. The ShoWare Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday game days at 10 a.m.
"We were deeply saddened about what happened on Sunday in Lakewood ," said T-Birds owner and general manager Russ Farwell. "We would like to show our support to the Lakewood department and all police officers who put their lives on the line every day. We hope that by providing officers with a chance to see a game and also asking our fans to help the Guild we will be helping in some small way."
"We are also working with the Kent Police Department and radio stations Q-Country 102.9 FM and Funky Monkey 104.9 FM and hope to have an announcement on Thursday about a second fundraising effort our organization will undertake for the Lakewood Police Independent Guild."
T-Birds single game tickets to the game on Saturday are available online at the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare Center box office.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NORPAC: Seattle Junior Totems- well worth watching!

I had the chance to take in a Seattle Junior Totems game on Saturday night. I went with my father in law, who has been a huge supporter of the Totems and its head coach, Mike Murphy. Mike grew up playing hockey in Snohomish County- he played for the Northwest Americans with Stu. Well, Stu played more with Mike's brother Matt, but you get the idea.

The Totems are listed as a Tier 3, Junior A hockey team who play in the Northern Pacific Hockey League (NORPAC). But watch them on the ice and they play as hard as any team I've seen. They scrap for every inch of the ice and come away with goals, as evidenced by their first place standings in the league's Pacific Division.

Here's a link to a write-up I did of two games the Totems played last weekend, posted up at the big KING 5 site. If you're interested in learning more about the team or seeing them in action, click here to be linked to the Totems' site.

Here's the link to the story at the KING 5 site.

Mitch Love talks fighting, teachs some moves

                                                     (Photo courtesy of the fabulous Fred Trask)

Saw this linked at the wonderful Houston Aeros' site, The Third Intermission and had to repost for all the Mitch Love fans who check in here for updates. It's an interview that Mitch did with the Peoria Rivermen's play-by-play guy Brendan Burke. It's a pretty interesting interview and includes video clips of some some of Mitch's more recent scraps.  Thanks to the "Anonymous" person who posted the link.  Enjoy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Shane "Iron Man" Harper sets new "games played" record for 'Tips

                                                  Photo: Frank Deines III/Everett Silvertips

You know I'm all about the good news. Here's some good news regarding Everett Silvertips winger Shane Harper, who now has a new nickname with the team: IRON MAN.

I'd take time to write out everything that Shane's done leading up to lacing them up for his 288th straight game on Saturday night against Tri City, but Silvertips PR guy Jon Rosen has already written a stellar news release.

So... I'm copying and pasting it here.

Everett Silvertips Press Release/"Iron Man" Harper Rewrites Silvertips Record Books
Everett, WA – November 30, 2009   
Having become a model of consistency with the Everett Silvertips, Shane Harper played in his 288th career Western Hockey League game in Saturday’s 6-1 win at Tri-City to set a new club record for games played.  The previous record of 287 games played was set last season by Canucks prospect Taylor Ellington, now a member of the Manitoba Moose.
Harper, a 1989-born winger from Valencia, California, punctuated the night by netting two goals, completing a week in which he had five goals and three multi point efforts featured in wins over Spokane and Tri-City.  With 35 points on 19 goals and 16 assists this season, Harper has also compiled a +21 rating as the Silvertips have surged to a 16-8-1-0 record in the competitive U.S. Division.
Throughout his five-year Silvertip career, which began as a 16-year old in the 2005-06 season, Harper has accumulated 169 points on 77 goals and 92 assists.  Though he won’t reach Zach Hamill’s club record of 262 career points, Harper’s 77 goals present him a clear opportunity to surpass Hamill’s club record of 87 career goals, while Harper is currently on track to surpass John Lammers’ single season record for goals, set in the 2005-06 season with 38.
These accolades can be attributed to a remarkable run of consistency, beginning with the 2007-08 season and continuing through the games this past weekend.  Throughout that time, Harper has played in 168 out of a possible 169 games, a run he credits to his workout regimen both in the regular season and the off-season. 
“A lot of it has to do with experience, but I think weightlifting helps with my endurance,” Harper explained.  “When I came into the league, I was 155 pounds.   My first two years in the league, I worked out with weights every day after practice, and now I just try to maintain it.  It helps me withstand the physical play, which keeps me healthy.”
That endurance will be on display as the Silvertips’ 25 games played this season is a league-low.  Harper, along with the rest of his hard-working teammates, return to the ice Wednesday evening when they host the Kelowna Rockets at 7:05 pm.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WHL: T-Birds: Cool Bird Bobblehead Night + Dictionaries!

He's a favorite among hockey fans, now the Seattle Thunderbirds are honoring mascot Cool Bird with his very own bobble head! The first 3,000 fans arriving at ShoWare Center for Friday night's match-up against the Portland Winterhawks will receive a free bobblehead, courtesy of Comcast. This is the team's first ever bobble head night, and we hear Cool Bird is extremely excited to be honored in this way! The puck drops at 7:35pm, so get there early!

The T-Birds are also proud to announce that fans helped raise $3,124 to buy dictionaries for area schools. They teamed up with the Rotary Club of Kent Afternoon to host the second-annual "Rotary Night with the Seattle Thunderbirds" on November 6, during the game against the Spokane Chiefs. The fundraiser benefits the Rotary Club's "Dictionary Program."

Twelve Rotary Clubs took part in the event, including: Kent Sunrise, Renton, Federal Way Sunrise, Federal Way Afternoon, Covington, Maple Valley, Magnolia, SeaTac, Seattle International, Sodo and Bellevue Overlake. Together, these clubs and the T-Birds provided more than 280 dictionaries to 3rd grade students in their respective school districts. The Seattle Thunderbirds say they're very proud to be associated with the event, and look forward to teaming up with fans to raise even more money for dictionaries next year!

If you'd like more information about Cool Bird Bobble Head Night, the Rotary Club Dictionary Program, other upcoming Seattle Thunderbirds events or the team's schedule, just click here, or call: (253) 239-7825.

WHL: Silvertips team up with Christmas House for holiday drive

Anyone who's ever been to an Everett Silvertips game knows just how connected the team and its fans are, to their community. Just a couple of weeks ago, fans donated food to help stock empty shelves at the Volunteers of America food bank in Everett. They also raised money to benefit breast cancer research during Hockey Fights Cancer month. The Silvertips organization and players are active in area schools and take part in various events all year round.

This week, the Silvertips are teaming up with Christmas House to collect money and gift donations to help bring holiday cheer to area families facing hard times this season. And as they always do, the 'Tips are offering fans something in return for their generosity. The news release below perfectly outlines the Christmas House Holiday Drive. If you need any further information, check out the Silvertips' website by clicking here.

EVERETT SILVERTIPS NEWS RELEASE: Christmas House Holiday Drive begins Friday
Everett, WA – November 24, 2009/ The Everett Silvertips announced Tuesday that beginning with the Friday, November 27 game against Regina, and continuing during all home games through the Saturday, December 12 contest against Seattle, representatives of Christmas House will be tending to the main doors to Comcast Arena, collecting stuffed animals, blankets, clothing and monetary donations. For every toy, clothing or stuffed animal donation, or for cash donations of $5 or more, fans will receive a ticket for a prize drawing of a variety of autographed paraphernalia and in-game experiences listed below.

Games in which Christmas House representatives will be collecting donated items include:
Friday, November 27 ( v. Regina)
Wednesday, December 2 (v. Kelowna)
Tuesday, December 8 (v. Portland)
Friday, December 11 (v. Prince George)
Saturday, December 12 (v. Seattle)

The prize drawings will be held during the second intermission on Saturday, December 12. More information can be found at both the Christmas House table and the BECU Guest Services Table on the concourse.

This year, drawings include:
*Autographed hockey sticks by Radko Gudas, Kellan Tochkin, Cameron Abney and Byron Froese
*Autographed hockey sticks by former Silvertip and current Phoenix Coyote Shaun Heshka and Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Rick Tocchet
* 2009-10 Fan Favorite Bobblehead Doll Set
*Uncut autographed Silvertip trading card sets from 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09
*A ride in the brand new, flashy Silvertips Zamboni
*A night in a Silvertips suite (catering not included)
*An opportunity to watch the pre-game skate from the team bench
*Team-signed Silvertips jersey

Winners do not need to be present to win. No donation is necessary to enter drawing. Please limit entries to one entry per person per game.

Christmas House is a 501 ©(3) non-profit organization that has served the Snohomish County community since 1981. Their goal is to provide children from low income families with new toys, gifts and clothing during the holidays. Last year, the all-volunteer staff helped over 3,300 Snohomish County families, including 9,500 infants, youths and teens receive clothing, blankets, toys and personal items during the holiday season. More information on their efforts can be found at

The Silvertips’ 2009-10 season continues at home Wednesday evening against the Spokane Chiefs. For Silvertips tickets, including season seats, ticket packages and group ticketing information, please visit or call (425) 252-5100.

Monday, November 23, 2009

WHL: Interview with Silvertips D-Man Radko Gudas

(Photo Courtesy: Frank Deines III/Everett Silvertips)

I posted an interview with Everett Silvertips defenseman Radko Gudas up at the KING 5 sports page.  He's a pretty interesting guy and talked about a lot of things, including: LA Kings training and rookie camp over the summer, adjusting to life and a different style of play in North America, how much his dad has influenced him, the NHL player he wants to emulate, and his favorite home-cooked meal.

You can read the interview by clicking here.


WHL: Silvertips overpower T-Birds 4-1

(Photo Courtesy: Mick White/Kent Valley Sports)

The Seattle Thunderbirds welcomed the Everett Silvertips to ShoWare Center last night, and the Silvertips made themselves right at home. The first period went by pretty quickly, with a lot of back and forth action, and some great stops by T-Birds goaltender Calvin Pickard and ‘Tips netminder Kent Simpson. Seattle got on the board first, in the final 10 seconds of the period. Everett defenseman Radko Gudas went to the box at 18:33 for tripping and Seattle went on the power play. With 8 seconds left on the clock, Prab Rai connected with Lindsay Nielsen and Jeremy Schappert to score, and the period ended with the T-Birds up 1-0.

The Silvertips took control during the second period and never looked back. At 9:47, Shane Harper found a way past Calvin Pickard. Alex Theriau and Scott McDonald got the assists. Everett scored again less than four minutes later. This time, Tyler Maxwell found the back of the net, with help from Harper and Chris Langkow. The Silvertips went up 3-1 before the second period ended. Harper scored again at 15:39. Maxwell and Langkow were credited with the assists. Tempers started flaring this period as well, although the refs only called 2 penalties, after Everett’s Alex Theriau dropped the gloves and traded punches with T-Bird Chance Lund. Both went to the box to serve 5 minute majors for fighting.

During the third period, Everett skated as though they owned ShoWare Center, and in a sense, they did. They controlled every aspect of the game, while the T-Birds looked as though they had completely lost their focus. Silvertips Center Chris Langkow scored at 3:34, with help from Tyler Maxwell and Drew McDermott. Seattle let their frustrations get the better of them and took a number of penalties. Brendan Dillon was hit with back-to-back penalties about halfway through the period. He had just come out of the box for an interference call, when he was sent right back for boarding. The T-Birds had 2 power play chances late in the third, as Silvertips defenseman Radko Gudas served back to back penalties for hooking and roughing, but it was a case of too little, too late for Seattle, and the game ended with the final score: Everett 4, Seattle 1. The Three Stars of the Game: 1. Shane Harper (Everett), 2. Tyler Maxwell (Everett), 3. Prab Rai (Seattle).

After the game, T-Birds Head Coach Rob Sumner gave the Silvertips much credit, telling radio play by play guy Thom Buening, “They outworked us, they outplayed us. They were the better team tonight.” Sumner said the team will focus on improving play in a number of areas, including special teams. The T-Birds will also be without standout goaltender Calvin Pickard when they face the Regina Pats on Wednesday night (November 25). Pickard has been selected to play for Team WHL in the Subway Super Series in Victoria, BC on November 25 and 26. No word yet whether he’ll be back to backstop the T-Birds when a strong Portland Winterhawks team rolls into ShoWare Center on Friday, November 27.

Everett Silvertips forward Byron Froese has also been selected to represent Team WHL in the tournament. As of this writing, he’s on the roster for the November 25th game in Victoria. To learn more about the Subway Super Series, including full rosters, click here. The Silvertips host the Spokane Chiefs at Comcast Arena Wednesday night. The Chiefs will be without Captain and defenseman Jared Cowen, or forward Levko Koper, are also playing in the Subway Super Series. However, former Silvertip Kyle Beach is now part of the Chiefs lineup, and should receive a warm welcome.

To learn more about the Everett Silvertips, click here. And to keep up with the Seattle Thunderbirds, click here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

WHL: Recap: T-Birds v. Silvertips 11/14

The Everett Silvertips rode a 2 game winning streak into Saturday’s game against I-5 rivals the Seattle Thunderbirds.  The Silvertips currently sit smack in the middle of the WHL’s US Division with a 12-6 record.  The T-Birds have struggled so far this season; their 7-12 record landing them at the bottom of the US Division. Still, Seattle also rode a 2 game winning streak heading into Comcast Arena.  Anyone who’s ever seen these two teams face each other, knows that records don’t count.  They will hit the ice and give everything they have to beat the other team. There is absolutely no love lost between the Silvertips and T-Birds.  On this night, Everett put Kent Simpson in net, while Seattle featured 17-year-old phenom Calvin Pickard.  And on this night, Pickard would prevail.
The first period featured a lot of action on both sides of the ice, with both goaltenders deflecting some pretty strong shots.  The first also featured a number of penalties, ranging from holding to unsportsmanlike conduct, but the clock ran down with a scoreless tie and the shots on goal fairly even – Everett 9, Seattle 11.
The second period began with the T-Birds on the power play, as Silvertips center Chris Langkow sat in the box for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the close of the first period. Everett killed that penalty and went on the power play about 4 minutes into the period, when T-Bird d-man Steve Chaffin was called for holding. Just before that penalty ran out, Seattle’s Brenden Rouse drove up the ice and scored a shorthanded goal, with a little help from Silvertips goaltender Kent Simpson.  Simpson tried to stop the puck and accidentally slid it past him into the net.  The T-Birds scored again, on a power play at the 9:15 mark.  Right wing Sena Acolatse shot the puck past Kent Simpson.  Colin Jacobs and Brenden Rouse got the assists. About halfway through the 2nd period, Jacobs dropped the gloves with Silvertips forward Kellan Tochkin and both of them went to the box. Jacobs got a 5 minute major for fighting, but the refs slapped Tochkin with 2 minutes for instigating, 5 minutes for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct.  He would not return until well into the 3rd period. Not even a minute after the fight, the T-Birds struck again. Captain Lindsay Nielsen found the net, on a shot from Charles Wells and Jeremy Schappert.  There was more chippiness as little scraps broke out on the ice. In a move reminiscent of former T-Birds Captain (and current Manchester Monarch) Thomas Hickey, Radko Gudas, Everett’s big D-man, laid a hip check on T-Birds forward Prab Rai that sent Rai airborne. Luke Lockhart was called for hooking with 52 seconds left in the 2nd, and as the horn sounded, the T-Birds’ Stefan Warg and ‘Tips’ Chris Langkow went at it.  Neither was called for a penalty and the two teams hit the locker room with Seattle up 3-0.
The Silvertips turned their aggressiveness up another notch as the third period got underway, driving again and again at the T-Birds’ net and outscoring Seattle 8-3 in the first 8 minutes of the final period. Again and again, Calvin Pickard turned them away, with help from his teammates.  Everett seemed to put Seattle on its heels, but the T-Birds regrouped and basically ran out the clock for most of the period.  With three minutes to go, Seattle scored again. Jonathan Parker put one past Kent Simpson. Sena Acolatse and Brenden Rouse got the assists.  The Silvertips turned up the jets again in the final 3 minutes of the game, but could not find a chink in Pickard’s armor.  Time ran out, giving Seattle a 4-0 victory and Pickard his second shutout of the season.  The 3 Stars of the Game:  3. Radko Gudas (Everett D-man); 2. Calvin Pickard (Seattle goaltender); 1. Prab Rai (Seattle LW).