The Thunderbirds saw their preseason record fall to 0-1-1-0 with a, 6-3, loss to Spokane Sunday afternoon in Everett.
As is the case most often in the Everett preseason tournament, teams playing only two games usually ice a veteran laden team in one game and much younger team in another. This was the case for both Seattle and Spokane Sunday. The T-birds fielded a younger squad for this match after going a bit older Friday versus Portland. Spokane, which put 13 "rookies" on the ice in a Saturday night loss to the host Silvertips, went with a more seasoned squad against Seattle.
After grabbing an early lead, off a Tyler Alos goal, it was apparent the Thunderbirds young forwards were struggling against the more experienced Chiefs squad. The 'Birds "rookies" had trouble handling Spokane's forecheck, their passing was not up to par and they generated very little in the way of offense, finishing with just 13 shots on goal.
The resulting loss isn't so unexpected when you consider the rosters for this game. The disappointment, for me, is that through two preseason games those young Seattle forwards haven't stepped up. There are a couple of jobs up for grabs and no one is grabbing the bull by the horns. Maybe it is a different story in practice. It will be interesting to see which of those young forwards advance to next weekend's preseason tournament over in Kennewick. Now, each one of those players has had a moment or two, but they've been too few and far between.
Again, as in Friday's game against Portland, the one exception is 15 year old Keegan Kolesar. Unfortunately Kolesar is ineligible to play in Seattle this season, outside of five games or after his season ends next March. I'm impressed with how many times he won a battle for a puck behind the Spokane net, going up against an older player.
I really liked the play Sunday of Jared Hauf. I thought he used his length really well. Hauf, Taylor Green and Kevin Wolf are all 6'4" or taller and having that kind of reach can cover some mistakes.
Hauf is now wearing #33, so it takes some getting used to, especially since Kevin Wolf is wearing Hauf's old #3 and has a similar build. For the time being I can tell them apart because Wolf is still wearing the full cage. Wolf, by the way, seemed much more comfortable Sunday against Spokane then he did Friday versus Portland.
There have been a couple of other number switches for returning players. Evan Wardley has gone from #6 to #27 and Seth Swenson is now #21 rather than #25.
I caught up with Alexander Delnov (pronounced Del-nofe, as in "loaf") after the game. Very personable and is excited to be here. He told me to give him a few weeks to get his english up to speed.
Still too early to handicap the battle for the #2 goalie spot. Daniel Cotton played well under constant pressure. Like a season ago, he did struggle at times with rebound control. I thought the first goal allowed by Justin Myles was a little soft as he left enought space between his body and the post for the puck to sneak past him.