Like all sports, hockey is a results based business. You are measured by wins and losses and in the end, Friday night's game ended in a loss for the Thunderbirds. But it would be difficult to dominate a game anymore then the T-birds did last night against Victoria.
Obviously, Seattle wasn't perfect. They made mistakes and it seemed each of those errors ended up in the back of their net. They missed scoring on some great chances too, particularly in the third period when trailing, 4-3. Still, the compete level that was missing the previous weekend in losses to Portland and Everett was back. The T-birds strength has to be their forecheck. They didn't generate much of a fore check a week ago in the two losses. Last night, their forechecking was at it's best. It allowed them to cycle the puck and keep the puck in the attacking zone for long stretches of the game. They were physical but played under control. Seattle took just a couple of minor penalties that led to power plays for the Royals. One was a high stick. The other I thought was a very "soft" goaltender interference penalty.
Most importantly, the T-birds did what they did a good deal of the first month of the season. When they got down, they didn't give up. They kept attacking and it almost brought them all the way back. Sometimes you don't get the puck luck and sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the opposing goalie. Last night was one of those nights for the 'Birds.
Was Shea Theodore sending a message to the WHL powers that be and Hockey Canada? Theodore was not selected to represent the WHL in the Subway Series against Russia. His response was to score a hat trick and if not for the post and cross bar, could have had a five goal night.
The power play went 0-for 3 1/4th but it sure looked much more dangerous last night then it has in the past couple of weeks. The difference? Player were more willing to shoot the puck rather then wait for the perfect scoring opportunity.
Really like the Troock-Barzal-Lipsbergs line. Hard to believe, save for a couple of assists, they were held from scoring a goal. I thought pretty much all the forwards did a good job of coming back and helping defensively, especially in the neutral zone. It was necessary after Seattle lost defenseman Ethan Bear, then had another defenseman, Jerret Smith in the penalty box for five minutes. Seattle played a good stretch of the third period with just four available d-men.
The key now is for the Thunderbirds to build off this effort. They have to play the same way, cut down on the turnovers and get a better result tonight when they host Regina.