I was not too disappointed in the T-birds effort in their 6-3 loss to Portland Saturday at the Red Lion Hotels Preseason Tournament over in Kennewick. Seattle leaves the Tri-Cities with a 1-1 record and are now 1-2-1-0 two thirds of the way through their preseason schedule.
The T-birds younger players were given lots of ice time against the Winterhawks, especially their young defensemen. If the Thunderbirds are going to be successful this season they need to get the likes of Taylor Green, Jerret Smith and Kevin Wolf acclimated to the speed of the WHL game. Green, with just three games under his belt from a season ago, is the only one of that trio with any WHL experience.
Because the speed of the WHL game is faster then what they are used to, the decision making has to speed up as well. If you hold the puck too long thinking out you next move, it's probably too late. You're probably going to turn the puck over under pressure. That seemed to happen often against Portland.
The key is learning what to do with the puck before you have it on your stick. The only way to get in the habit of making quicker decisions is get ice time in game situations. Outside of Brad Deagle and Jesse Forsberg the rest of the Seattle defensive group has one year or less of WHL time and those inexperienced players are going to be counted on heavily by the T-birds.
Seattle had opportunities against Portland. Against good teams you have to put those chances away. Seattle just couldn't finish on some of their better opportunities. Then to compound that Seattle was whistled for a number of penalties in the second period, just as Seattle was getting some momentum. Portland took advantage of that to score multiple power play goals. That was the game. In a matter of minutes Portland's power play turned a close 2-1 game into a 5-1 lead.
Portland also still has more depth then the 'birds right now. They are a solid four line team. Seattle is not there, not yet anyway. Grab a little more experience, develop these younger players now in the system and you'll have the depth needed to be a top tier team.
Seattle currently has 27 players on the roster, including four goalies. I'm not sure if the roster will be pared down before or after this coming weekend's two preseason games against Everett but there are still a few tough roster decisions to be made.