What the Thunderbirds are finding out here in the early going of the season is you can't let your gaurd down for not even a moment, you can't take a shift off and you can't rest on what you just did..you have to build on it.
Last night in Kamloops the T-birds had an okay effort in the first period. A bad penalty led to a Blazer power play goal, a bad turnover led to a controversial video reviewed goal but down only two they put themselves in striking distance. By the way, I think the WHL needs to scrap video review. I've seen too many instances where the decision of the video review judge has me and others scatching our heads.
Seattle was a little slow out of the gate to start the second but then they started controlling the play, putting the Blazers back on their heels a bit. Unfortunately they didn't take full advantage. They scored one power play goal but could not convert on a penalty shot and missed on a few other scoring chances.
But they were back in the game and when they scored early in the third to tie it at 2-2, you had to think momentum was now on their side. But once again they stopped doing what they had done well in the second period. Chief among that was keeping the slot, right out in front of their goal, clean. They had used their sticks and their positioning to break up Kamloops passes. But for ten minutes in the third period they stopped doing that and it cost them big time as they Blazers exploded for five goals to pull away.
Don't put the onus of this loss on the young defensemen. This comes back to the forwards back checking. Don't turn the puck over in the neutral zone or the offensive zone and you won't be scrambling to get back on the back check. Seattle has shown they can skate with any opponent in the league, now they have to show they can beat them by eliminating the self inflicted errors.
He showed a new gear while skating and was more tenacious then in the past. I thought he and Alexander Delnov played well together.
16 year old defenseman Kevin Wolf made his WHL debut last night. I thought he acquitted himself fairly well. He showed a willingness to shoot the puck and his defensive zone coverage was decent. He did take a hooking penalty that led to a late Kamloops power play goal. Not to look too far into the future but the more I see them play the more impressed I am by this group of young 16 and 17 year d-men.
Another youngster who is earning ice time is 16 year old right winger Michal Holub. The 2011 third round bantam pick out of Mission, B.C. is a smooth skater, handles the puck well and already has enough size to play a physical game.
Tonight the T-birds look for their first win on home ice this season. It is just the second game at the ShoWare Center since the games started counting but Seattle has to own their own ice. Over the past three seasons the T-birds are 27 games under .500 at home. That needs to change.