Monday, January 23, 2012

Chance-ing It

I wrote at the end of last season that if there was one returning player on the T-birds roster who could do what Brendan Dillon did, play his way into a pro contract as a 19 or 20 yr old, I though that player would be Chance Lund.

I always felt Chance had the physical tools to succeed. He's a natural athlete (plays baseball at a high level in the summer) with good size, stamina and skates well. His issue has always been finishing his scoring opportunities. Well, this year he seems dedicated to taking his game to the next level, in particular in his past three games he separated himself from the pack. Lately Lund has been the offensive leader for a team struggling to produce offense. He has three goals and two assists in that span and just missed a fourth goal when he rang one off the post last Friday at home against Kamloops. He's already one of the leaders on the team in minutes played thanks to his hard work on the penalty kill. Now he's getting more power play time and produced a power play goal Sunday in Vancouver.

Lund's career high in goals (12) plus his 13 assists puts him second now on the team in scoring with 25 points, just two behind Burke Gallimore. More amazing, considering all the ice time he logs, he's only a -2 after 43 games. Additionally he's only been assessed two minor penalties all season. At the very least his play should earn him an invite to an NHL training camp next fall.

Calvin Pickard now stands alone when it comes to career saves by a WHL goalie. With 42 saves last night Pickard now has 6,959, surpassing the old mark held by another former T-birds goalie, Danny Lorenz. Some might call the record dubious because Pickard is just facing way too many shots. But the fact of the matter is he's saving over 90 percent of those shots and that is a credit to him.
Meanwhile Pickard is approaching another league standard for goalies. After the game Sunday in Vancouver Pickard has now played 12,639 minutes. He now holds the T-birds franchise record in that category (again bypassing Lorenz in the process) and is only 135 minutes (just over two games) behind former Swift Current Bronco netminder Kyle Moir for the WHL record.

As for the results on the ice lately? Well, January continues be the bane of this team's existence. The T-birds have played ten games so far this month and have only one win, and just three points for their effort (1-8-1-0). There are four games left before we turn the calendar page. So still a chance to salvage some points but this is the third straight season the team will have limped through January.

Remember, when January rolls around the T-birds schedule gets loaded with divisional and conference games. Those teams just happen to be among the best in the league right now and the T-birds are playing them multiple times. With the exception of Everett, every team the Thunderbirds have faced this month has been above .500. In fact outside of the Silvertips, no team the T-birds have played in January has a winning percentage below .615 The combined win-loss record of the T-birds opponents this month is 161-84-8-17. Remove Everett from the equation and the record of Seattle's January opponents is 151-56-7-9.


  1. Thom,

    Kurtis Mucha holds the WHL record for minutes played with 13,708. Calvin would need to play about 18 more games (at 60 minutes a game) to break the record.

  2. The players seem confused, discouraged and just generally upset just as much as the fans! It is hard to believe that the team still has no set lines and it is the end of January. Its hard to build chemistry when the players have different line-mates every game and even every period. Most teams in the league have lines that are set by end of October and here the Birds still pull names from a hat to make lines. Players have to be accountable for their play, coaches have to be accountable to have the players ready. The Birds have 4th liners playing with 1st liners, that is the coaches decision. Poor line-up equals poor out-comes. Coaches choice!