So, is it a one week wait that is coming to an end this Friday (since last game, Game 4 vs. Kelowna) or is a 19 year wait (Seattle's last appearance in the WHL Final). Depends on your perspective but many of you out there have been hard core fans for a long time. Soak it up.
I don't make predictions. I find such things an exercise in futility. As each playoff series began I saw seven games on the schedule and I prepared for a seven game series whether it was Prince George, Everett or Kelowna. The players and coaches approach it a bit differently...one game at a time. When you get to the postseason, you are playing the cream of the crop. You should expect a long battle.
You can certainly try to make an educated guess as to how things might unfold but you can never predict the bounce of a puck, how one officiating crew might call a game as opposed to another, or how an injury might turn a team's fortune. So instead of trying to predict how things might turn out, I just get ready to enjoy the ride. As a result I don't get surprised when a series ends early as it did in the first three rounds. And if it goes seven games as has been the case in past seasons, I'm ready for that. More importantly, so are the players and coaches. But these opportunities don't come along that often. Let's enjoy it rather then worry about how many games will take place or who is favored.
I'm looking forward to some really good hockey between Seattle and Brandon. The one thing I like about the WHL Final is the great deal of unknown. These teams only played against each other once this season and that was six months ago. Might as well be six years ago. So much has happened since that late October, 7-2, T-Birds win at the ShoWare Center. Remember, the Wheat Kings were towards the tail end of their five game road trek through the U.S. Division. As far as it's affect on this series, it doesn't even register a blip. Obviously there is so much more at stake this time around. Counting the rest of the regular season and playoffs the Thunderbirds have played 74 games since that night. That's an entire season's worth of games.
Let's give some props to the NHL scouts doing the voting in the BMO CHL Top 10 Poll. Before the season began, they had just four WHL team in their preseason Top Ten; Brandon and Seattle along with Kelowna and Red Deer. In their final poll, there were just three WHL teams; Victoria, Brandon and Seattle. When the dust settled the last two WHL teams standing are the Wheat Kings and Thunderbirds.
Amazing that these two teams are a combined 24-5 in the postseason. even more amazing when you realize that both clubs ended the regular season by going 9-0-1-0 in their last 10 games. So that's 42-5-2-0 when you put together their records over the last two months. Wait, lets back up even further. Seattle is 25-1-1-0 in their last 27 games while Brandon is 23-4-2-0 in their last 29. Two teams on a roll at the right time.
The midseason trade to bring in Landon Bow was, quite possibly, the best deadline acquisition in Thunderbirds history, but lets not shortchange the other players the T-Birds acquired from Swift Current after Christmas. Both Cavin Leth and Andreas Schumacher have been invaluable pieces to the puzzle. Seattle would not be in the league final without them. And with players missing playoff time due to either injury or suspension, two other deadline deal pick ups, Bryan Allbee and Garan Magnes, also contributed to the team's postseason success. It takes all hands on deck. That foursome has combined for 4g, 7a, 11 pts, one game winner and a +9 rating.
Before the Final gets underway Friday at Westman Place in Brandon the league will hold it's annual awards ceremony Wednesday in Calgary. Seattle captain Jerret Smith is the WHL's Western Conference representative for the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s Humanitarian of the Year. That's followed Thursday by the annual Bantam Draft, also taking place in Calgary. Seattle will have the 18th overall pick. We are expecting to have the T-Birds Director of Player Personnel, Cal Filson, on the Weekly Seattle Thunderbirds Coach's Show that night at 6pm. So listen in on 1090 The Fan as we get the low down on Seattle's draft picks. Other guests will include Bruce Luebke, the voice of the Wheat Kings and of course T-Birds head coach Steve Konowalchuk.