Cellar-dwelling in Seattle

By Jeff Arnim

Seattle Thunderbirds

2001-02 record: 6-21-1-0
4th place U.S. Division, 9th place Western Conference
This week: 0-2-1-0

With a weekly schedule that included the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants, the Thunderbirds had a good chance to gain ground on two important Western Conference rivals, but ultimately ended the week in the conference cellar, and the worst record in the WHL. Also this week the team saw two of its players ranked for the 2002 NHL Draft by NHL Central Scouting, and loaned no-show import Andrei Mukhin to the East Division’s Saskatoon Blades.

November 21 – Tri-City 4, Seattle 2
A four-goal explosion staked the Americans to a hefty lead after two periods of play. However the Thunderbirds responded with two goals within the first two minutes of period three, one each from Greg Black and defenseman Tomas Mojzis. Yet despite the quick offensive output, Seattle posted only five shots on goal in the final frame, failing to close the gap. Nick Pannoni made 26 saves in the loss.

November 23 – Vancouver 5, Seattle 5
In a see-saw battle for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the expansion Vancouver Giants took an early 2-0 lead on a pair of Jeremy Jackson scores, only to see Seattle respond with three straight goals from Brooks Laich, Dustin Johner, and rookie Aaron Bader. Not to be outdone, the Giants scored three of their own in a row, including a hat trick goal for Jackson. Ultimately Seattle would even things up for good with a Tomas Mojzis power play tally, and Bader’s second score of the game.

November 24 – Regina 7, Seattle 1
A six-goal explosion in the third period by the Regina Pats easily pushed them to victory over Seattle on Saturday night. After stopping 11 of 12 shots through two periods, 17-year-old rookie netminder Ryan Cyr allowed the six Pat scores on just 14 third period shots. Tyson Mulock rounded out a hat trick on Regina’s seventh goal, their third of five power play scores on the night. Matthew Hansen scored the lone Thunderbird goal, his first career tally in the WHL.

News and notes
&#149 Seattle defenseman Eric Benke is ranked 16th among WHL skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Service’s preliminary rankings for the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Thunderbird left wing Tyler Metcalfe is rated 24th in the WHL. Currently in its 26th year of existence, the CSS was establised in 1975 as an independent scouting service for NHL member teams.

&#149 Winger Andrei Mukhin, selected 19th overall by Seattle in the 2001 CHL Import Draft, has been loaned to the Saskatoon Blades on a five game tryout basis. No official trade has been made yet. As a result of visa problems, Mukhin has never reported to the Thunderbirds.

&#149 Recently acquired center Brooks Laich and defenseman Tomas Mojzis have both made immediate impacts for Seattle. Laich has a goal and two assists in three games with the Thunderbirds, while Mojzis has posted two goals and one helper. The pair were acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors on November 18th.

The week ahead
After playing seven games in the past two weeks, Seattle has action only one time this week. December 1st the team takes on the rival Portland Winterhawks at KeyArena, the fourth of 12 regular season meetings between the teams. Portland has taken all three games thus far this season.