Not once last season did the Seattle Thunderbirds do what they were able to do Friday night against the Tri-City Americans. Nine times last season these teams met and nine times the T-Birds lost. Not one win, not in regulation, not in overtime and not in the shootout. But Friday night, before an energetic Pub Night crowd at the ShoWare Center and behind the stellar goaltending of Calvin Pickard, the T-Birds not only beat the Ams, they shut them out 3-0.
And while Pickard deservedly gets a bulk of the credit, stopping 43 shots in the win, this was the very definition of a team success story as everyone was willing to play a physical brand of hockey for 60 minutes. The T-Birds were very active with their sticks, especially in killing off six Tri-City power plays, blocking, redirecting and deflecting shots all night long.
Seattle is statistically the biggest team in the WHL and Friday night they finally used that to their advantage by out hitting and outmuscling the Ams. Surprisingly it was Burke Gallimore leading the way in that department as he threw the body around more than I've ever seen him do. It allowed him to force a turnover deep in Tri's end of the ice that led to Seattle's second goal. I had Gallimore as my second star even before that well earned assist or his empty net goal that sealed the win.
The T-Birds did it even with one of their more physical players sidelined as veteran defenseman Cason Machecek was a late scratch with a lower body injury that flared up before the game. Young Jared Hauf stepped in and, while he wasn't perfect, made some crucial defensive zone plays just on hustle alone.
I'm guessing if the coaches could draw up a blue print of how they want this team to play every night, a lot of what we say in Friday night's win over the Americans would be in that game plan.