Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Mitch Love Blog! #15 and counting...

Mitch Love/Photo: Houston Aeros

Last week, Mitch Love wrote about undergoing surgery for a nose that's been broken many times. This week, he writes about hitting the ice-- and that's not all he ended up hitting! This guy just doesn't quit!

Read about his whirlwind week here:

Two T-Birds fly the coop. Hickey, O'Brien headed to AHL

The Seattle Thunderbirds have confirmed that defenseman Thomas Hickey and center Jim O'Brien are embarking on the next level of their hockey careers. Hickey is set to join the Manchester Monarchs, the Los Angeles Kings' AHL affiliate. O'Brien is on his way to join the Ottawa Senators' AHL team in Binghamton, New York. Binghamton has posted a news release on its site about O'Brien's impendnig arrival.

Jim O'Brien/Photo: David Pitcher/Seattle Thunderbirds

O'Brien played 133 games over two seasons with the Thunderbirds. He had 48 goals and 69 assists for 117 points. In playoff action, he notched 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points in 17 games. The Ottawa Senators selected him 29th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Thomas Hickey/Photo: David Pitcher/Seattle Thunderbirds

Hickey played all four years with the T-Birds, scoring 39 goals and 138 assists for 177 points in 262 games. He played 32 playoff games and notched 7 goals and 17 assists for 24 points. Hickey also captained the T-Birds for the past two seasons and Captained Team Canada to its 5th consecutive gold medal in the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa this year. The Los Angeles Kings selected Hickey 4th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

I had the pleasure of interviewing both Thomas Hickey and Jim O'Brien this season.

To read O'Brien's interview, click here.
To read Hickey's interview, cilck here.
To read Hickey's reflections of Team Canada's historic win, click here.

We'll miss you.

Silvertips' Ellington bound for Manitoba and the AHL

Taylor Ellington/Photo: Frank Deines III/Everett Silvertips

The Everett Silvertips have announced that defenseman Taylor Ellington is joining the Manitoba Moose, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Ellington signed a 3 year, entry level contract with the Canucks last week. He and the Silvertips wrapped up the season over the weekend, after falling to the Tri City Americans in first round playoff action.

Ellington was drafted by the Silvertips in 2003, and played his entire WHL career in Everett. He has played in a franchise record 287 games, and tallied 14 goals and 52 assists for 66 points. This season he was honored as the team's "Most Valuable Player", along with teammate Shane Harper.

The Vancouver Canucks drafted Elllington at the top of the second round, 33rd overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He is expected to join the Moose on Wednesday. Manitoba leads the AHL's Western Conference.

Taylor Ellington recently talked about his hockey history with me.
To read the interview, cilck here.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

T-Birds' playoff run ends with 5-2 loss in Spokane

This game recap is a hard one to write.  I’m not gonna lie.  Writing up the last recap of a season is always difficult, especially when it is cut short.  The Seattle Thunderbirds have provided excitement all season long, whether in the form of amazing wins or heartbreaking losses.  The team took us along with them on a wild rollercoaster ride to the first round of the WHL playoffs.  And now that ride is over.

It ended last night on the ice at Veteran’s Arena in Spokane, following 60 minutes of the most in-your-face hockey I have seen in quite a while.  The puck dropped at 7:05 and aggression flowed off both benches. Goalies Calvin Pickard (T-Birds) and Dustin Tokarski (Chiefs) were on their heels the entire first period as players fired shot after shot at them.  Picks slapped one hard shot away at 3:20, then caught the rebound to deny Spokane a goal.  Tokarski gloved a slapshot by Thomas Hickey, then moments later, denied Devon LeBlanc, who had charged up the ice with two other T-Birds, with only one American to stop them.  Well, make that two.  Tokarski did what his d-man could not.

About 5 and a half minutes in, Spokane’s Jared Spurgeon drove hard for the net, and he got it. The net, that is.  He went rocketing past Pickard and tumbled into the goal.  As he tried to extricate himself, Seattle’s Thomas Hickey was called for hooking and went to the box.  Once again, Pickard stepped up, denying shot after shot.  One attempt got a little too close for d-man Jeremy Schappert.  He took exception with Brenden Kichton and shoved him away from Pickard.  Kichton shoved back, but a ref stepped in before it could escalate.

The T-Birds aggressively pushed play into Spokane’s end, then had trouble scoring.  Greg Scott missed a big chunk of open net at the 8 minute mark (Tokarski was out of position).  To put it bluntly, he whiffed on a pass that would have definitely resulted in a Seattle goal.   Spokane’s Brett Bartman went to the box at 11:54 for interference and the T-Birds swarmed Tokarski, peppering him with shots.  Tokarski stopped all of them, much to the crowd’s (and Spokane radio guy Mike Boyle’s) delight. 

As the first period wound down, Seattle kept up its attack of Spokane’s net.  With 3:30 left to play, Dustin Tokarski somehow lost his stick, yet made another amazing save.  Several scoring chances ended in pushing and shoving matches in front of Spokane’s net, and at 18:41, the T-Birds Brad Haber was called for hooking and went to the box.  This led to some frantic action down at Seattle’s net, but Calvin Pickard turned them all away, and the first period ended with a scoreless tie in what appeared to be a battle of the goaltenders.  Shots on goal were pretty even, too. Spokane: 10, Seattle: 7.

The second period began with the T-Birds shorthanded as Brad Haber rode out his hooking penalty. Seattle killed it, then had their own power play chance a minute later, when Ondrej Roman went to the box for holding.  I don’t know who fired the shot at goal, but I was sure it went in.  The puck rolled over Dustin Tokarski’s leg pad, but Jared Spurgeon dove in behind him and somehow knocked the puck out before it crossed the line into the net.  Are you kidding me??? I had to watch it again.  I could feel the waves of frustration rising from the T-Birds bench at this moment.  Especially since four minutes later, Drayson Bowman scored to put Spokane up 1-0.  He scored on a rebound after Calvin Pickard turned Mitch Wahl’s shot away.  The T-Birds answered by driving up to Spokane’s end, but Dustin Tokarski blocked every shot they fired.

Just before the halfway mark, Spokane’s Ondrej Roman was called for a hooking penalty that sent radio guy Mike Boyle on a tirade.  He accused Thomas Hickey of deliberately firing a puck at Roman and that Roman had just been defending himself when he was called for the penalty.  Boyle said Hickey should have been called for what he called a “blatant act”.  A blatant act of what?  In the four years that I’ve watched Hickey play with the T-Birds, I have not seen any blatant unsportsmanlike acts.  Yes, he’s been called for the same penalties that others have been called for: hooking, tripping, high sticking.  And he’s had a fight or three. But I’ve never seen him play dirty, as Mike Boyle inferred. 

Jim O’Brien went to the box for interference at 11:28 and Pickard immediately blocked two key shots off the faceoff.  Thomas Hickey broke up what would have been Spokane’s second goal at 12:00 by putting his body in front of the oncoming Chief, then using his great play-reading ability to knock the puck right out of action.  O’Brien’s penalty had just ended when Spokane scored again, following a flurry of action at Seattle’s end.  Captain Justin McCrae got one past Calvin Pickard at the 13:30 mark. Mitch Wahl and Levko Koper got the assists. 

Ondrej Roman got physical with Pickard a couple of minutes later.  Picks had caught a shot when Roman grabbed his glove, in an apparent attempt to shake the puck loose.  Several T-Birds came flying up to protect their netminder, resulting in a lot of pushing and shoving.  It took the refs a few seconds to break things up.  The T-Birds took that energy up the ice on the next play and found a chink in Tokarski’s armor.  Rookie Colin Jacobs scored his second goal of the playoffs.  Greg Scott and Calvin Pickard were credited with the assists.

David Richard was called for tripping at 16:39, putting Spokane on the power play, but the T-Birds were ready.  Stefan Warg and Jeremy Schappert leveled huge hits that sparked boo’s from the crowd.  Schappert took a pass from Jeremy Boyer and fired point-blank at Tokarski.  Tokarski caught it.  The T-Birds ran into penalty trouble again in the final minute of the period. Brenden Dillon went to the box for slashing, setting Seattle up to begin the third period short handed.  As the clock ticked down the final 15 seconds of the period, Spokane attacked Calvin Pickard furiously, but he held them off; kicking and slapping the puck away from the net.  The second period ended with Spokane ahead 2-1 and the Chiefs firing more shots on goal. Spokane: 16, Seattle: 9

The third period began with Calvin Pickard making some heroic saves.  Off the opening face off, Spokane drove at the net.  One shot hit the post and Pickard kicked it away before anyone could try for a rebound.  30 seconds later, Picks stopped a hard shot by Drayson Bowman by falling on the puck.  Seconds after that play, Justin McCrae collided with Thomas Hickey at center ice.  The refItalics called McCrae for high sticking and the crowd erupted.  Spokane radio play by play guy Mike Boyle took exception to this call, too and let loose with a tirade that lasted several seconds.

More back and forth action resulted in Spokane’s third goal of the night at 5:21. Brady Calla stole a T-Birds pass at Seattle’s blue line and fired it straight past Calvin Pickard.  Mitch Wahl tried to score a minute later, but knocked the net off its moorings instead and play moved back into Spokane’s end.  The T-Birds applied the pressure and Tokarski turned away all comers.  At 11:00, Thomas Hickey drove at the net and landed right on top of Tokarski.  Several Chiefs pulled Hickey off and a lot of pushing and shoving ensued.

The refs called Spokane’s Levko Koper for cross checking at 11:00.  For some reason, Spokane radio guy Mike Boyle went ballistic, calling it a bad call and disparaging the referees.  24 seconds later, The T-Birds went on a 5-on-3 power play when Drayson Bowman was called for high sticking.  Boyle said this was actually a legitimate call, then spewed some more about Koper’s penalty being a bad call.  At the 12 minute mark, Spokane’s Tyler Johnson and Seattle’s Jim O’Brien traded shots in front of Spokane’s net after Dustin Tokarski denied a scoring chance by O’Brien by falling on the puck.  Johnson and O’Brien both went to the box; Johnson for cross checking, O’Brien for roughing.

Seattle scored its second goal at 13:49 when Prab Rai fired a shot past Dustin Tokarski.  Thomas Hickey and Greg Scott were credited with the assists.  This goal sparked another tirade by Boyle, who said Scott should have been called for cross checking and the goal should have been disallowed.  He went on to accuse the referees of working hard to keep Seattle in the game.  (I have to pause here to say that in the times I have listened to Tom Beuning cover the T-Birds on the radio, I have never heard Beuning spew the way Boyle has during this playoff run.  I understand that radio guys must be fans of the teams they cover, but this is just a little too much.)

With 7 minutes left to play in the third, T-Birds head coach Rob Sumner was called for a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.  This put Spokane on a power play and moved the face off, which had been set next to the Chiefs’ net, back down in Seattle’s end.  The Chiefs capitalized on that power play. Mitch Wahl found the net at 14:31.  Drayson Bowman and Levko Koper got the assists on this one.  Spokane fired more shots but Pickard stopped these.  Following Spokane’s goal, Rob Sumner was slapped with a game misconduct and sent to the locker room. 

The T-Birds got a power play chance with just under two minutes left in regulation.  Ryan Letts went to the box for cross checking.  Seattle yanked Pickard out of net and put a sixth attacker on the ice.  It paid off.  Thomas Hickey lined one past Dustin Tokarski at 18:30, pulling the T-Birds to within one goal.  The wheels came off 45 seconds later, when Jared Spurgeon broke up a pass and fired a shot to Drayson Bowman, who scored an easy empty net goal.  Time ran out with the score: Spokane 5, Seattle 3.  The T-Birds outshot the Chiefs in the third, 18 to 9.  T-Birds goalie Calvin Pickard stopped 30 of 34 shots.  Chiefs’ goalie Dustin Tokarski stopped 31 of 34.

The T-Birds will now work to make some changes in the off season, adding new players to fill the holes being left by 6 key members who are graduating out of the WHL system:  Chris Cloud (LW), Thomas Hickey (D), Devon LeBlanc (LW), Jim O’Brien (C), Jeremy Schappert (D) and Greg Scott (LW).  You can find recaps of all the games this season, information on players and other details at the T-Birds website.  Just click here.

And guys, THANKS for a great season.

Blog #66 - How "Magnifique"

I was just checking in on the blog and I noticed that I have posted 66 blogs.
What a momentus number.
That's the number of my absolute favorite hockey player in the world - none other than "Le Magnifique" himself.

So... this short note pays homage to my favorite guy, Mario Lemieux.

I am in awe of your amazing career, but even more so, your amazing life.
You are a testament to what one can accomplish if they stay focused and blast through obstacles. 
Not even cancer kept you down.  
You are truly an inspiration.  
May you continue to inspire for years to come.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Photos: Silvertips v. Tri City, Friday, 3/27/09

These photos were taken by me (Su Ring).  Amy Van Dalen also took some AMAZING photos-- much more amazing than mine! You can check hers out either at the KING 5 Hockey page:  www.king5.com/sports/hockey  or at Amy's blog: chuckapuck.blogspot.com

Silvertips lose crucial Game 4 to Tri City, 4-1

The Everett Silvertips find themselves in a very precarious position this morning. Like their brethren down I-5, the Seattle Thunderbirds, the 'Tips are down 3 games to 1 in their playoff series against the Tri City Americans. Tonight, they face the daunting task of trying to win on Tri City's home ice to force a Game 6 back at Comcast Arena.

Tri City, on the other hand, has a more pressing matter to deal with. Rookie Spencer Asuchak hit the boards hard in the final minutes of the game- and after lying on the ice for a frightening ten minutes, was carted off on a stretcher, loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital for evaluation. We still don't know the extent of his injuries. I will post an update as soon as I find out.

Now, back to the game. It started out well enough. From my vantage point right behind Everett's bench, I could see the determination on the Silvertips' faces and they played with determination as well. Maybe they started out with a little too much. Captain Zack Dailey was called for checking from behind about 1:30 into the first period. There was a mad scrum around Everett's net two minutes later, and the puck hovered dangerously close to Silvertips' goalie Thomas Heemskerk's feet and no one seemed to notice it for several long seconds. Then an Everett stick swept the puck out of danger.

There were several Tri City penalties in succession but Everett could not capitalize on the power play until the ten minute mark. Daniel Bartek deflected a hard shot by Tyler Ellington right past Tri City goalie Chet Pickard to put the Silvertips up 1-0. Chris de la Lande also assisted in the goal.

The rest of the first period featured a lot of action at Everett's end of the ice. Thomas Heemskerk made a number of good saves, including one at 16:43 as he fell on the puck. Jesse Burt, Zack Dailey and Tyler Maxwell delivered some monster hits, along with d-men Graham Potuer and Tyler Ellington. In the final minute of the first period, Daniel Bartek made a great run at Tri City's net, but Chet Pickard blocked him. Dan Iwanski slapped two hard shots at goal with 20 seconds on the clock, but Pickard turned those away, too. The first period ended with Everett on top 1-0.

The second period had barely gotten under way when Tri City found itself in penalty trouble. Taylor Procyshen was called for checking from behind at 1:04. A minute and a half later, teammate Riley McIntosh went to the box for tripping. The Silvertips' two man advantage didn't last long, though, as Tyler Maxwell was called for goaltender interference at the 3 minute mark.

It took less than a minute after that for Tri City to finally get on the board, albeit in a controversial way. A flurry of activity around Everett's goal seemed to knock the net slightly off its moorings. At the same time, another player ended up going INTO the net with the puck. The referees called for an instant replay. (NOTE: Instant replay is not used during regular season WHL games, but is being used during the playoffs) Guess what? It counted! Johnny Lazo got credit for the goal. Mitch Fadden and Lane Werbowski were credited with assists. Comcast Arena erupted into a chorus of 'BOO's at this point; the crowd, definitely not happy with the call.

Everett tried a few good runs at Tri City's net, urged on by the thousands of cowbells in the arena. But the 'Tips ran into penalty trouble again. Tyler Maxwell went to the box for tripping at 5:53. Zack Dailey was called for interference at 7:45. Thomas Heemskerk really stepped up, blocking shot after shot after shot. In fact, my notes read: "good stop Heemskerk @ 7:25", "good catch by Heemskerk @ 8:50", "good set-up by TC, better stop by Heemskerk @ 9:29".

Just after the halfway mark of the second period, Tri City's Jarrett Toll found a second home in the penalty box. At 11:43, he was called for high sticking. He had just left the box when he was sent back for interference. Five minutes later, he visited the box again, this time for delay of game, after flipping the puck right over the glass and into the crowd.

The Silvertips could not capitalize on any of their power plays, even though they had some good scoring chances. On the other end of the ice, Heemskerk continued his stellar play, stopping several shots and denying Tri City any opportunities to pull ahead. Chet Pickard made a key save for the Americans at the 19 minute mark, and the second period ended with things all tied up at 1-1.

I became a little distracted during the third period by a group of fans sitting to my left. Let's just say they were really enjoying themselves and had imbibed maybe a little too much. Unfortunately, they became very rowdy, surly and abusive. And very loud. The others around me and I tried to ignore them as best we could and follow the game. I was surprised that the team could ignore them. We were right behind their bench and some of the unruly fans had extremely loud and piercing voices, including one woman who seemed bent on teaching every child in her general vicinity some choice new words.

Back to the game. Just under two minutes into the third period, the puck flew toward the Everett bench and nearly hit a photographer in the head. He ducked just in time and laughed off the close call. The play was very aggressive this period, right off the bat. Silvertips hit everyone they came across and their feeling of frustration was palpable. The faces sitting on the bench in front of me were grim, determined.

At 7:32, Tri City's Johnny Lazo drove the puck toward Everett's net so hard, he ended up skating into goalie Thomas Heemskerk. The refs quickly stepped in as Silvertips converged around Lazo, but oddly, did not call him for goalie interference. Heemskerk made several good stops as action continued down in Everett's end before the Tips found a way into Tri City's zone. Chet Pickard stopped two successive shots at 9:35; the first by Dan Iwanski, followed by Zack Dailey with the rebound. Dailey was a human cannon ball. He skates so quickly, he's a blur. And the shots he leveled last night, belie his small stature (the roster lists him at 5'6" tall). Thomas Heemskerk made a good save at 12:05, and before Tri City could attempt another shot, Cameron Abney was there to knock a player and the puck away from Heemskerk.

Tri City found the net again at 12:50. Tyler Schmidt took a blocked shot and rebounded it into an open area of the net on Heemskerk's left. 36 seconds later, Mitch Fadden scored the exact same way, after assisting Schmidt on his goal. Jason Reese also got a helper for both goals. With just under six minutes to play, d-man Graham Potuer took a hit or something that sent him crumpling to the ice. I watched him try to get up and fall again. He finally crawled to the Everett bench, where another player helped him off the ice. A trainer took over and helped Potuer to the locker room. I don't know thow badly he's hurt.

Play grew even more aggressive in the final five minutes of the third. Once again, Everett got into penalty trouble and Tri City took advantage. Taylor Ellington was called for holding at 15:25. A minute later, Jason Reese scored on the power play. Taylor Procyshen and Tyler Schmidt were credited with the assists.

With 2:29 left to play, rookie Spenser Asuchak hit the boards hard, and fell onto the ice. I saw him propped up on his elbows, talking to the trainer. Then he went limp and lay still as Tri City and Everett's trainers looked him over. His right foot wriggled several times, then stopped. The crowd was silent as we watched a player skate out with a backboard, which they placed on the ice next to Asuchak.

Several more long minutes passed, broken up by some very loud and crude comments by a woman sitting behind me. There was no doubt that everyone inside Comcast Arena heard the things she said, the tamest of which accused Asuchak of not being hurt, and calling him a few rude names. In hindsight, I should have turned around and asked this woman her name so I could print it here. That way, anyone who knows her would be able to tell her just how stupid, rude and nasty she was last night.

Paramedics arrived ten minutes after Asuchak's fall, and gingerly placed him on a stretcher, making sure his head and neck were fully braced. Then, they wheeled him slowly off the ice and into a waiting ambulance, as the crowd at Comcast Arena applauded and players banged their sticks in support.

Asuchak's injury and Tri City's three goals seemed to take the wind out of the game for the Silvertips. They tried a last push at Chet Pickard with no success, and time ran out. Final score: Tri City 4, Everett 1. The shots on goal really tell the story here. Chet Pickard stopped 23 of 24 shots for Tri City. Thomas Heemskerk stopped 51 of 55 shots for Everett. He was named the Number One Star of the Game. Number 2 was Mitch Fadden and Number 3, Jason Reese, both from Tri City.

The Silvertips travel to Kennewick tonight for that crucial Game 5 against Tri City. The puck drops at 7:05pm. If you cannot make the drive to the Tri Cities for the game, tune your radio to North Sound 1380AM for Jon Rosen's stellar play by play coverage.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WHL: T-Birds lose to Spokane 3-2, fall behind in sereis 3 games to 1

The Seattle Thunderbirds find themselves in a very tough position. They are down 3 games to 1 in the first round of the WHL playoff series against the Spokane Chiefs. The T-Birds lost a tough match at ShoWare Center tonight, 3-2. Now, they face the daunting task of trying to win both of their next games on the other side of the state.

The first period started with a bang for both teams, with penalties a half minute into the game. T-Bird Chris Cloud was called at 00:32 for interference. Three seconds later, the Chiefs' Mitch Wahl went to the box for tripping. Neither team capitalized on the four on four play, but just before the 3 and a half minute mark, Spokane found the net first. Justin McCrae found a tiny opening between the left post and Seattle goalie Calvin Pickard's skate and poked the puck through. The T-Birds answered a minute later. Jim O'Brien took a rebound from Jeremy Boyer and Jeremy Schappert and shot it past Dustin Tokarski for his first goal of the playoffs.

Three minutes later, at the 7 minute mark, Schappert found the net. Devon LeBlanc and David Richard assisted on Schappert's first playoff goal. Less than two minutes later, the Chiefs evened things up. Tyler Johnson got past Pickard, with help from Mitch Wahl and Levko Koper. The rest of the first period featured some good set-ups by the Chiefs and better saves by Pickard, some pushing and shoving between Devon LeBlanc and one of the Chiefs, but no fisticuffs. At around the 10 minute mark, Seattle's Prab Rai and Jonathan Parker found some great chemistry as they flew up the ice, passing the puck between them. But Rai's shot at goal found one big obstacle: Tokarski.

As the period wound down, Spokane was called for two more penalties (Ondrej Roman @ 13:47 for high sticking; Brady Calla @ 16:39 for holding). Just before the second penalty, the Chiefs made a run at Pickard, but Defenseman and Captain Thomas Hickey dropped to his stomach and knocked the puck out of the way. A few minutes later, Hickey fired a hard shot at Tokarski, but Tokarski caught it. The final minute of the period featured more aggressive play, some words between T-Bird rookie Colin Jacobs and Spokane's Jared Spurgeon, and an elbowing penalty to Jim O'Brien with a half second left on the clock. End of First period: Seattle 2, Spokane 2. Shots on goal: Seattle 12, Spokane 12.

The second period began with the T-Birds shorthanded, as O'Brien worked off his elbowing penalty. There were a few scrums along the board as players scrabbled and kicked for the puck. Luke Lockhart found himself surrounded by three Chiefs who seemed to make it their mission to keep shoving his head down and not letting him up for air. He managed to break free, following a few uncomfortable moments. Prab Rai made another great run at Spokane's net, and again, Dustin Tokarski turned his shot away.

Spokane recovered and drove back to Seattle's end. In fact, the Chiefs seemed to spend quite a lot of time in the T-Birds' end this period, keeping Calvin Pickard on his toes. He caught a zinger slapped straight at his head around the 7:23 mark. Seconds later, T-Bird Greg Scott and Spokane's Tyler Johnson collided and skated a few feet while still entangled with each other. They nearly ended up going into the net, but pulled themselves apart in time. A minute later, an overzealous Chief skated into the side of the net, knocking it off its mooring. At 9:41, Jim O'Brien was called for his second penalty of the game, this time for high sticking. 20 seconds later, Ondrej Roman scored a power play goal for Spokane. Trevor Glass and Drayson Bowman got the assists for Roman's first goal of the playoffs.

Seattle's Brad Haber went to the box for delay of game 26 seconds later, after he shot the puck right over the glass and into the crowd. The T-Birds were able to kill that penalty and keep Spokane from scoring for the rest of the period. The bad news: Spokane returned the favor, not allowing the T-Birds to get a puck past Tokarski. The second period wound down with the score favoring the Chiefs, 3-2. Shots on goal: Spokane 12, Seattle 7.

The third period got physical right from the puck drop. The beginning of the period featured hard hits, aggressive plays on the puck and frantic skating up and down the ice. T-Bird winger David Richard got knocked into the Spokane bench about two minutes in, where players greeting him not so warmly. Spokane did a good job keeping the puck down at Seattle's end and really putting Calvin Pickard on his heels. He knocked away shot after shot, or watched as the puck bounced off a post or missed just wide of the net. Again and again, T-Birds swooped in to try to clear the puck, but for some reason, they could not get it past their own blue line. There was always a Chief ready to bring that puck right back into Seattle's zone. Left Wing Prab Rai distinguished himself this period not only by his skating and puck handling skills; he also leveled huge hits on every Chief he happened to come across.

This period featured lots of whistles and lots of face offs; most of them coming in the T-Birds zone. At 12:49, Mitch Wahl slid past Pickard and into the T-Birds' net. Stefan Warg took offense to it and got in Wahl's face once he found his way out of the net. A referee stepped in before the argument could escalate into something more physical. I noticed several d-men taking shorts breaks and heading back onto the ice, including Captain Thomas Hickey. He and several other T-Birds, including Prab Rai, Greg Scott and Devon LeBlanc, fired shots at Spokane's net, but Dustin Tokarski was not in the mood to let any more goals in. The period wound down pretty quickly, in spite of the numerous whistles, and play was still too frantic for T-Birds Head Coach Rob Sumner to pull Pickard until there were less than 55 seconds on the clock. Seattle used that extra attacker and did their best to hammer at Tokarski, to no avail. There was a frightening moment with 27 seconds left to play, when Spokane cleared the puck toward an empty T-Birds net. Hickey reached the puck before a Chief, though, and tried one last push at tying the game. Tokarski was just too good on this night, though, and time ran out. Final score: Spokane 3, Seattle 2.

Shots on goal for this period: Spokane 13, Seattle 11. Dustin Tokarski made 28 saves. Calvin Pickard stopped 34.

The 3 Stars of the Game: 1. Trevor Glass, Spokane 2. Jeremy Schappert, Seattle 3. Dustin Tokarski, Spokane

The T-Birds head back to Spokane for Game 5 on Saturday, March 28 in Spokane. The puck drops at 7:00pm. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mitch Love's Newest Blog and other stuff

Mitch Love's newest blog is up at the KING 5 site.

To read about the week he had, which includes surgery and a scare for his girlfriend's family, follow this link:

To top things off, he hit the ice over the weekend to play-- just days after this surgery!
He shares these photos of him in a full face cage.

Photos Courtesy of Fred Trask

Hockey players are truly a different breed.

Mitch's former team, the Everett Silvertips, host the Tri City Americans in Game 3 of WHL playoff action at Comcast Arena. The puck drops at 7:05pm. The series is all tied up at one game apiece. Click here for game and ticket information.

Down in Kent, the Seattle Thunderbirds host the Spokane Chiefs in Game 4 of WHL playoff action. They lost a heartbreaker at home last night, 5-1. The silver lining of this game? New T-Bird Center Colin Jacobs scored his first WHL goal in the loss. What a thrill for the 16 year old! Tonight's game begins at 7:05pm at ShoWare Center. Click here for more information.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Silvertips take Tri City 3-2, to even up playoff series

I tried listening to the Silvertips/Tri City game online last night, but Jon Rosen's audio was pretty bad, so I gave up.  I later learned that North Sound 1380 was having audio problems so Jon had to resort to broadcast using his cell phone.  That explains it.  Well, it would be lopsided if I posted a game recap for the T-Birds and not the Silvertips, so I'm posting the Silvertips' news release about the game here.  If you want more details, I suggest you read Nick Patterson's story in the Everett Herald.

Kennewick, WA - Tyler Maxwell scored his first career WHL hat trick to upset the #2 seed Tri-City Americans, 3-2. Byron Froese and Graham Potuer had two assist each while Thomas Heemskerk stopped 45 of 47 shots in a solid outing Saturday night. The best of seven series is now tied 1-1. Everett heads back for game three at home this Wednesday March 25th at 7:05. Game four comes this Friday, March 27th at Comcast Arena with a 7:05 start. 

Much like the start of game one Everett opened up game two of the WHL's 2009 playoffs opening round on the power play. Brandan Shinnimin was called for interference just 35 seconds into the game and the Silvertips capitalized. Tyler Maxwell scored for the second straight game at 1:55 collecting a rebound from Chet Pickard's pad and burying his second goal of the playoffs for a quick 1-0 Everett lead. Tri-City took advantage of a Graham Potuer delay of game penalty as Kruise Reddick evened up the score 1-1 on the power play. Reddick blasted a one-timer past Thomas Heemskerk off of a Tayor Procyshen pass at 13:33. 

Maxwell added his third goal of the series in just two games collecting on a two man advantage. Maxwell's goal came at 13:52 with an assist to Byron Froese to give Everett the 2-1 lead late in the second period. Tri-City led in shots 34-16 after 40 minutes of play. 

Froese added his second assist on the night leading to Maxwell's first career WHL hat trick. Maxwell scored with a deflection on the power play at 3:49 of the third period increasing Everett's lead to 3-1. Jason Reese had an answer on the man advantage, scoring after a Jesse Burt high sticking penalty at 4:29. Reese scored on the backdoor off a rebound making the score 3-2. Heemskerk held off all Tri-City shots in the remainder of the game to lead Everett to a 3-2 upset over #2 ranked Americans. 

The 2009 WHL Playoffs come to Comcast Arena Wednesday, March 25th at 7:05 pm when the Silvertips take on the Tri-City Americans in game three of the opening round of the WHL Playoffs! Tickets are on sale now at the new everettsilvertips.com and at the Comcast Arena Box Office! For ticket information, including season seats and ticket packages, please call the Silvertips' front office at (425) 252-5100. 

As always, radio coverage of Silvertips hockey will be provided by North Sound 1380 KRKO, while highlights of audio broadcast, video packages and relevant multimedia will be provided by the Western Hockey League's website, www.whl.ca. 

1) EVT- Tyler Maxwell (2) (PPG) (Graham Pouter, Taylor Ellington) , 1:55 1st 
2) TRI - Kruise Reddick (1) (PPG) (Taylor Procyshen, Tyler Schmidt), 13:33 1st 
3) EVT - Tyler Maxwell (3) (PPG) (Byron Froese), 13:52 2nd. 
4) EVT - Tyler Maxwell (4) (PPG) (Byron Froese, Graham Potuer), 3:49 3rd. 
.5) TRI - Jason Reese (1) (PPG) (Mitch Fadden, Kruise Reddick), 4:29 3rd. 

Toyota Center, Kennewick, WA - 3,937 

EVT: 3/6 
TRI: 2/4 

EVT: 8-8-5-21 
TRI: 16-18-13-47 

EVT: Thomas Heemskerk: 45/47 (W, 1-0-1-0) 
TRI: Chet Pickard: 18/21 (L, 1-1-0-0)