Game 1 in the second round of the WHL playoffs is in the books and the Seattle Thunderbirds got the ugly end of the stick. The Kelowna (formerly the TACOMA) Rockets took advantage of a number of penalties and just plain outmanned the T-Birds to a final score of 6-2.
(Photo: Kelowna Rockets/WHL)
I know Kelowna finished the regular season with a whopping 118 points, more than any team in the WHL, OHL or QMJHL. Powerhouse? You bet. Unbeatable? No team is unbeatable. Just ask the 2008-2009 San Jose Sharks, who won the President's Trophy with 117 points, only to lose 4-2 to the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs. Or the 2009-2010 Washington Capitals, who finished the season with a whopping 121 points only to go down in 7 games against the Montreal Canadiens, also in first round action.
I'm not a sports psychologist, nor do I play one on TV. But I'd say the T-Birds are facing more than a formidable opponent in the Kelowna Rockets this series. Of course the Rockets are formidable - they've got the best record in the CHL. But they also have something else: history - and recent history at that. In the first round of the playoffs last year, Seattle won the first 3 games and seemed poised to finish off the Rockets and advance to the second round. Instead, Kelowna pulled off an incredible upset, winning the next four games and leaving a stunned T-Birds team (and fans) in their wake. (They didn't advance past the second round after hitting a brick wall called the Kamloops Blazers).
So... this armchair sports psychologist thinks maybe *some* of the T-Birds may be remembering their massive fall from grace last season and the memory is (consciously or subconsciously) messing with their minds. If I'm wrong, I'll be the first person to offer a loud "mea culpa" at center ice of ShoWare Center. But I heartily believe Seattle has what it takes to bring down this Goliath-like Kelowna team. In fact, the teams split their four regular season games with two wins apiece (4-3 Seattle, 4-3 Kelowna, 4-1 Seattle, 7-3 Kelowna).
Here's hoping the T-Birds roll into Prospera Place tomorrow night and show the Rockets they don't care about 118-point regular season records or what happened last year, then ride that momentum to Kent and show the hometown crowd, and most importantly, themselves, that they've got the heart and the talent to keep the post-season going.
2. INCREDIBLE COMEBACK IN KOOTENAY
And I'm not talking about the playoffs, although the Ice handily defeated the Calgary Hitmen 4-2 to advance to the second round (Game 1 against Medicine Hat is tomorrow night).
No, the incredible comeback I'm talking about happened before the March 29th game at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook, when Ice forward Tim Bozon took part in the ceremonial puck drop before his teammates skated to a 5-3 victory and knocked Calgary out of the playoffs.
(Photo: Barry Coulter)
Tim spent the better part of the month in a Saskatoon hospital, battling a form a bacterial meningitis so serious, doctors had to place him in a coma for two weeks while they treated him. He was released from the hospital on March 28 and watched his teammates win the next night. The Montreal Canadiens prospect is now back home in France with his parents, where he'll continue the healing process.
Here's the news conference with Tim and his father (warning: dad gets a little emotional)
Here's video of the ceremonial puck drop:
3. BABY "BLUES" FOR T.J. OSHIE
Blues star (and Seattle Junior Hockey Association alum) T.J. Oshie has been tearing up the ice and helping St. Louis clinch a playoff spot and a whopping 111 points. But on the Today Show this morning, TJ and his fiancee Lauren shared the emotional challenge faced by their newborn daughter, Lyla Grace, who was born with a serious birth defect called gastroschisis (part of baby Lyla's intestines were outside her tiny body). Surgeons successfully repaired the problem and baby Lyla is expected to go home with her mom and dad next week.
3. THE KING OF POP... ON ICE?!
The Hubby (@StuV94) spotted this photo tweeted out by @History_Pix today. He retweeted it, then texted me to check it out.
The photo is identified as a ceremonial puck drop between the Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins on November 16, 1984. According to a story posted by the Canucks in 2009, the only thing the team can confirm is that Stan Smyl is #12 for Vancouver, and we all recognize #66 in the Penguins uniform. But they couldn't confirm with complete certainty that the gentleman holding the puck aloft is actually the King of Pop himself. According to the story, Michael Jackson *was* in Vancouver at the time, performing for three nights at BC Place, so one would assume this was the real deal participating in the ceremonial puck drop. He looks real to me and it seems like the type of thing the kid in him would have enjoyed doing.
I'd love to sit here and continue ruminating with you, but I've gotta go. I think a UFO just landed in my backyard - and I think Bigfoot's behind the wheel. #TheTruthIsOutThere