2 2013-2014 FAN GUIDE www.seattlethunderbirds.com
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Welcome to Kent!
and to Seattle Thunder-birds hockey and a winning 2013-2014 season as the T-Birds pursue the coveted Memorial Cup!
This is surely going to be an exciting season at Showare Center! The T-Birds have added two full-time assistant coaches and a top-notch goalie coach who will help the team develop NHL-cali-ber players! The one to watch this season is the Birds new center, Mathew Barzal. As the fi rst overall pick in the 2012 Bantam Draft, Kent fans will enjoy watching this elite player, here in Kent, as he develops into a top fl ight NHL player.
If youre a new visitor to ShoWare Center, you should
know were very proud of this 5 year-old state-of-the-art arena. The 6,125 seats, twenty suites, and incredible club seating section have unmatched hockey sightlines throughout.
While youre in town, grab a bite at Kent Station, a contemporary, open air urban village with a variety of options for pre and post-game gatherings. (But dont leave your car there during an event: Cars will be towed.) Walk a couple blocks south of the Center to discover the charm of historic downtown Kent where even more entertainment and dining choices await you.
Suzette CookeMayor, City of Kent
Mayor Suzette Cooke
a special supplementof Sound Publishing
and Kent Reporter
TAMIE BEITINGERMARIE SKOORJAMIE FAASSE
K E N T
2013-2014 FAN GUIDE www.seattlethunderbirds.com 3
4 2013-2014 FAN GUIDE www.seattlethunderbirds.com
The Seattle Thunderbirds enter the 2013-2014 season with an experienced defensive core. It was just two short years ago that this was not the case. Due to injuries and lack of depth the team was forced to rely on young rookies to man their blue line, and they paid for it.
The 2011-2012 squad took their lumps on route to allow-ing over four goals a game. Thats a tough way to win hockey games.
That team saw Shea Theodore, Jared Hauf and Evan Wardley make their WHL debuts as rookies who were pretty green. Theodore and Hauf were 16, Wardley 17, and the three defenseman combined to play 154 games that year.
Talk about a trial by fi re.Those guys took their lumps that fi rst year and as well as
at the beginning of last season. As last year wore on however the defense began to gain some momentum. With the team making a late season playoff run the group began to fi gure it out and down the stretch they started to grow into a tight checking squad.
That became evident in the seven game playoff series against the high powered Kelowna Rockets a team that scored 100 more goals than Seattle and doubled them in points. They held a Kelowna team that scored over 300 goals, averaging 4.3 goals a game, to just three goals a game. It was seven games of hard-hitting, tough playoff hockey and even though Seattle came up just short, their defense had arrived.
The team got a taste. Not only a taste of the playoffs but
also of being able to shut down good teams. Now they look to carry that into this season.
They (Kelowna) were one of the better offensive teams, Jared Hauf says of the playoffs. It was really good for us to get that playoff experience and know that we could compete with a team that doubled us in points, just the will that we had to win. We didnt quite get it but it gives us an advantage this year
The T-Birds showing in the playoffs has everyone hungry to get this season going and to take another big step forward. For the fi rst time in several years there are not questions about how the defense will play. Theodore, Hauf and Wardley are now entering their third WHL season and with 20-year-old Jesse Forsberg and the improving Griffi n Foulk the teams defense can now be considered a strength.
Weve got a great group of guys coming back from last year, Shea Theodore says about his defensive mates. We didnt really lose a guy on defense, thats key. Were coming closer as a group.
As a group theyve gone from fi ghting through growing pains to a high level of belief and confi dence. The expecta-tions from the fans are high this year, and the players have raised the bar even higher.
I think we shouldnt expect anything but perfection from here on with our group, Evan Wardley says. We have a
veteran group back there, most of us are returning from last season, for us to come back its great for the organization.
Seattle has some young and upcoming prospects as well. Most notable is last years second round pick Ethan Bear. Bear has a chance to see some action this year at 16 and will most likely benefi t from having guys like Theodore, Hauf and Wardley around - guys who remember what it was like to still be learning the game.
I feel older, thats for sure, Wardley says of entering his third year. But Ive got a lot more experience that Im happy with carrying into the season. With my experience I can help the younger guys who are coming in this season and do my best to do that.
Playing defense at 16 in a league with as many high end prospects as the WHL can be a daunting task. No matter how good of a player that 16 year old is, he is going to get beat and make some mistakes. The trick is learning from those mistakes and moving forward - something that takes some time to learn.
Youve got to make the most of every day, Hauf says about coming into the league. When youre younger you kind of go through the motions a bit more. It just takes that little extra to get noticed and separate your self. There are tons of good players and defensemen and youve got to get that little extra to get ahead.
Getting ahead and staying ahead is something the T-Birds look to do more of this season. To do that you need to play defense and that is something Seattle can now do, and do well.
For updates all season long, follow Andrew on Twitter @andyeide
The T-Birds Getting Defensive This YearBY ANDREW EIDE, 710 ESPN SEATTLE
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The conversation around bringing a professional hockey team to Seattle has intensifi ed over the past few months. Despite attempts to either acquire an existing team or form an expansion club of their own proving unsuc-cessful to date, the future appears bright, as Seattle now appears to be a frontrunner when the NHL decides to adjust. The future for the Thunderbirds is just as hopeful as a number of fresh faces have the potential to put the National Hockey League on the backburner in fans minds for the next few years.
Any discussion regarding Kents major junior hockey club, rookies or otherwise, starts with Mathew Barzal, a 16-year-old that is as hyped in North American hockey circles as Ken Griffey Jr. was in the baseball world upon his arrival in the Emerald City. With world-class ice vision, skating skills, on-ice awareness, stickhandling abilities, and the rare knack for making those around him better, Barzal is prepared to step in as a rookie and provide an impact that few can at such a young age.
There are a lot of good players in the system right now, says the highly-regarded young center. It will be an adjustment for me and there will be growing pains, but I hope to make a contribution offensively and defensively. I dont want to be a player they have to take off the ice if theres a faceoff in the defensive zone. I want to be out there in every situation.
The discussion doesnt end with Barzal, however, as a number of other talented young skaters will play an important part in his success. Three other players drafted with Barzal in 2012, right wing Keegan Kolesar, defenseman Ethan Bear, and center Lane Pederson, all have a great shot at making the fi nal roster this season and writing a story of their own. Scott Eansor joins the team under different circumstances but the skill to contribute right away.
Kolesar, a powerful 6-foot-1, 216 pound forward, hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was seen briefl y last season during one game versus the rival Portland Winterhawks and two playoff games against the Kelowna Rockets. As the thunder to Barzals lightning, Kolesar is a very different kind of player than his draftmate. A hulking presence, the 16-year-old will create fi ts for opposing defenseman, most of whom he already outsizes. It should be
exciting for fans and teammates and terrifying for opponents to think of the presence hell have as an 18-year-old, if not this season and next.
Its a great feeling [knowing Ill get to play with these guys in the future], says the former fi rst-round pick. These guys have been drafted very high and they have the skill to show for it. It makes you want to work harder to be bette