As the Seattle Thunderbirds head into the final stretch of the 2004-05 WHL season, they have a couple goals in mind. First and foremost
is to end the season as the top team in the conference. The second would be to take home a Memorial Cup Championship.
Seattle has dominated their division throughout the majority of the season, and has pretty much had the same success with the rest of the league. With the exception of what many of the players like Coyotes prospect Ryan Gibbons
call ‘road bumps,’ the Thunderbirds are taking aim at scratching that first task off the
We have plowed right through those, explained the 20-year-old right
winger. "We look at a loss as an opportunity to be better next time and hope to continue to be successful.
We are going to have to continue playing like the top winning team that weve been so far. That means coming out every night, bringing our game and playing hard every night.
It has been players like Gibbons, who have continued to set the tone and lead by example for the T-Birds all season long. Always feeling a sense of urgency,
the fourth-year veteran, like many of his teammates, keeps the thought of last seasons last place finish close in mind.
We didnt get into the playoffs last season and I think that was a sour note for a lot of the guys, explained Gibbons. We all had a lot of time to think about how it felt.
When he felt he personally wasnt offering enough, he dug down deep inside while on Christmas break and reemerged a player possessed.
My first half of the season wasnt what I exactly hoped for, he explained about his slow start. Coming into the second part, I really wanted to step it up.
Since the break, the hard-charging 6’5 212-pounder has continued to dominate
particularly in the offensive zone. He has racked up a career high 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists), in 45 games. To his credit, the majority of his latest markers have come from planting himself in front of the net and outworking his opponents.
When I get the puck down low, I have to bury the puck as much as I can, he explained. Lately, I am trying to get extra chances too. On the rush, Im taking shots off the wing. I have to catch those goalies off guard.
Seattle has two more months of play before them, however, when it comes to the
team’s second goal, Gibbons will tell you that it is never too early to think about a cup run.
We came out after the break and stated what we wanted, he added. We want to win the Memorial Cup.
The team is in relatively good shape to make a deep surge into the post season. It is going to take another two solid runs to make a dream a reality. One to finish
off the season, and the other to close in on the Memorial Cup.
The Thunderbirds currently have a 17-point lead on Everett and Portland in the U.S.
Division with 67 points. They are currently ranked third in the Western Conference and in the WHL. Only Kelowna (69 points) and Kootenay (68 points)
are ahead of them. Finally, Seattle is ranked as the fifth best team in all of the CHL.
Even though Seattle has never won a championship, teammates continue to echo Gibbons views when it comes to the playoffs. They are gearing up to tackle their biggest goal. There
must always be a first time for everything.
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