Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Pats on the Back'll hear that word a lot when discussing these Seattle Thunderbirds. It is something that has been missing for good parts of the first 20-plus games this season. It's one of the reasons why this team is hovering around
Head coach Steve Konowalchuk uses the "C" word often when discussing his teams play. Specifically he mentions the teams need for more consistency, or its lack of enough consistency. What he wants is the same effort from this team game in and game out. Not from just the top line or from his #1 goalie or the top defensive pairing, but from every player; 24 guys all on the same page.
If the last three games are an indication, this team may have found that consistency. It started with a great 60-minute effort on Friday against Tri-City. Maybe it wasn't there for the full 60 minutes last Saturday against Portland but there was enough of it to carry the team to a 6-3 win.
Then Wednesday night against Regina it was there. Even down, 2-0, in the first period, it was the body, finish the check, win puck battles and get shots on net. Dropping behind the Pats by two goals this team could have easily fallen into some old bad habits. Instead they stuck to the game plan. They continued hitting, and forechecking and grinding. They went hard to the net and as a result they scored 5 unanswered goals. They wore Regina down, forcing turnovers that led to goals. It is the formula for how this team must play. It doesn't guarantee they will win every night but it does give them the best chance to win.

Did any player have as big an impact on the game without registering a point then Justin Hickman? He was absolutely relentless. I can't remember a shift where he didn't influence the flow of the action in a positive way for the T-birds.
When you play with consistency from shift to shift then an injury shouldn't affect your team that significantly. So when the T-birds lost Brendan Rouse early in the first period to an upper body ailment, Brendan Troock stepped up and had a monster two goal effort.
If Troock and Hickman continue to develop at this rate, Seattle will have two big power forwards who will be hard to contain. I hear a lot of complaints about the T-birds drafting but these two were the clubs top two picks from the 2009 draft. Then you have Jared Hauf and Shea Theodore, two of the top picks from the T-birds 2010 draft. Hard to complain about the play of these two 16 year old defenseman over the past three games.
Back to Brendan Rouse, you hope the injury is not serious because he's been playing so well over the past month.
Not a bad night for Burke Gallimore Wednesday. He delivered a few more crunching hits and then a backbreaking, game winning goal.
Clavin Pickard had another solid game in goal but what else would you expect from the Vaughn CHL Goalie of the Week. When Pickard has his rebound control working he becomes almost machine like. It's when he's at his best. He's had it working the past three games.

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