Seattle Thunderbirds

The Seattle Thunderbirds are a major junior ice hockey team based in the city of Kent, Washington, south of Seattle. They are part of the U.S. Division of the Western Conference in the Western Hockey League. They play their games at home in accesso ShoWare Center.

Seattle Thunderbirds
CityKent, Washington
LeagueWestern Hockey League
ConferenceWestern
DivisionU.S.
Founded1971
Home arenaShoWare Center
ColorsNavy blue, green, white
              
General managerBill Laforge
Head coachMatt O'Dette
ChampionshipsWHL Champions
2017
Websitewww.SeattleThunderbirds.com
Franchise history
1971–1973Vancouver Nats
1973–1977Kamloops Chiefs
1977–1985Seattle Breakers
1985–presentSeattle Thunderbirds

History

The team was founded in 1971 as the Vancouver Nats of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) but moved to Kamloops, British Columbia, to become the Kamloops Chiefs in 1973.

In 1977 the team moved to Seattle and was renamed the Seattle Breakers. The Breakers played in the Seattle Center Ice Arena, which had a seating capacity of 4,141 for ice hockey. Through eight seasons, the Breakers finished with a record of 225–319–32 and playoff record of 11–21, although they twice played in the West Division Finals.

The Modern Era

In 1982 the Breakers acquired future NHL great Ken Daneyko from the Spokane Chiefs. They made the playoffs and lost in the Divisional final.

After the 1984–85 season, the Breakers were sold to new owners and renamed the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The 1986–87 season saw the addition of Glen Goodall, who would remain with the team through 1990. Goodall would go on to set the Western Hockey League career records for most games played (399), goals scored (262), assists (311) and points (573). He is still the Thunderbirds leader in goals, assists and points. His jersey, number 10, is the only one to be retired by the Thunderbirds.

The 1989–90 season was the best regular season in Thunderbird history, and arguably the greatest team the franchise has ever iced. Seattle finished the season at 52–17–3, which included a 44–8–3 record in their final 55 and the #1 ranking in the final Canadian Hockey League Regular Season Top Ten poll. The team finished 33–2–1 at home tying a WHL record for most home wins. Goodall won the Most Valuable Player award finishing with 76 goals and 87 assists for 163 points, and Petr Nedvěd won Rookie of the Year. Seattle placed three scorers in the top six in the league: Goodall was second with 163 points, Victor Gervais third with 160 points and Nedved sixth with 145 points. Peter Kasowski came over in a trade from Swift Current and finished 13th with 129 points. Goaltender Danny Lorenz finished his career with a WHL record most career saves and minutes played. The team was so popular that they began to play many home games in the Seattle Center Coliseum, which could seat almost 12,000 for hockey and was frequently sold out. The T-Birds defeated the Tri-City Americans 5 games to 2 in the division semifinals, before losing to the eventual Western Hockey League champion Kamloops Blazers 5 games to 1 in the division finals.

In 1992, the Thunderbirds hosted the Canadian Hockey League championship, the Memorial Cup. In the opening game, the T-Birds beat Verdun Collège Français 5-3, thanks to a hat trick by George Zajankala. After losses to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-3 and Kamloops 3-1, they finished third in the round-robin and faced eventual champions Kamloops again in the semifinal by an 8-3 score.

The 1996–97 team, led by Patrick Marleau, finished the season with a record of 41–27–4. They won the Western Conference by beating the Prince George Cougars 4 games to 2. Seattle was beaten by Lethbridge 4 games to 0 in the WHL championship series.

The 2002-03 season saw the team advance to the conference finals on the back of Brooks Laich, who was named the Western Conference MVP with 41 goals and 94 points. After convincing wins in the early rounds of the playoffs, the Thunderbirds lost to the Kelowna Rockets four games to one.

The 2015–16 season was a breakout season for the Thunderbirds, and was one of the most successful seasons in franchise history. During the season, the Thunderbirds clinched the U.S. Division after a 4–1 win over the Spokane Chiefs on March 15. This was Seattle's third division championship in team history and first since the 2004–05 season. Seattle also finished the regular season with the second most wins in team history (45). In the quarterfinal round of the 2015-2016 WHL Playoffs, the Thunderbirds swept the Prince George Cougars, 4 games to 0, and advanced to the semifinal round against the Everett Silvertips, where the Thunderbirds dominated the Silvertips, winning the series 4 games to 1. With the win, they advanced to the Western Conference Finals against the Kelowna Rockets, the defending WHL Champions. Once again, the Thunderbirds continued their dominant playoff run, as they swept the series against the Rockets, 4 games to 0. The series-clinching win came in a double-overtime thriller as rookie Matt Wedman scored the game-winning goal halfway through the second overtime to give the Thunderbirds the 5–4 overtime victory, clinching the Western Conference championship. With the win, the Thunderbirds advanced to the WHL Championship for the first time since 1996-97. The Thunderbirds faced the Brandon Wheat Kings in the league final and lost the series 4–1.[1][2] The finals with Brandon was much closer than the end result, as the first three games were decided in overtime and all three ending with Wheat King victories.

The Thunderbirds did not have to wait long for their next shot at a league championship. Although they did not repeat as division champions the following season, Seattle finished the regular season with the second most wins in team history (46), topping their record from the previous season. In the quarterfinal round of the 2016-2017 WHL playoffs, the Thunderbirds swept the Tri-City Americans, 4 games to 0, and advanced to the semifinal round for a rematch with Everett. The Thunderbirds continued their postseason domination of the Silvertips, sweeping the series 4 games to 0 to advance to the Western Conference Finals and yet another rematch with Kelowna. Although this series did not end in a sweep in Seattle's favor like the previous year, the Thunderbirds still prevailed over the Rockets, 4 games to 2. With the win, the Thunderbirds advanced to the WHL Championship for the second straight year, this time against the Regina Pats. Unlike their previous two league final appearances, the Thunderbirds broke through and won their first-ever league championship, taking the series 4–2. The series-clinching win in Game 6 at the Brandt Centre came in an overtime thriller after the Thunderbirds rallied from a late two-goal deficit to force overtime with 2:54 remaining in the third period. Alexander True scored the game-winning goal midway through the first overtime period to give the Thunderbirds the 4-3 victory, clinching the Championship and sending the team to their second Memorial Cup appearance in team history and first as WHL champions.[3]

Arenas

The Thunderbirds originally played at Mercer Arena, then split time between Mercer Arena and the Seattle Center Coliseum beginning during the 1989–90 season before moving to KeyArena upon its completion. Unfortunately for the Thunderbirds, KeyArena's post-renovation sight lines were better suited for basketball. The arena floor was just barely large enough to fit the rink. It was so far off-center that the scoreboard hung over a blue line instead of center ice. Additionally, so many seats in the lower level were obstructed that half the lower level was curtained off.

Due to growing fan and team dissatisfaction with KeyArena, in 2009, the Thunderbirds moved to ShoWare Center, 20 miles south in Kent, where they became the anchor tenant. . The Thunderbirds have a large fan base, and continually draw some of the highest attendance numbers in the WHL on a yearly basis at the ShoWare Center.

Logo and Uniforms

The team's logo depicts a Native American carving of a thunderbird with the word "Seattle" etched into it, framed by two hockey sticks. It is similar to the logo and colors of the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League.

Their uniforms are very similar to those of the Hartford Whalers from 1992-1997.

Season-by-season record

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties OTL = Overtime losses Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Season GP W L T OTL GF GA Points Finish Playoffs
1977–7872322812359316764th WestOut of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
1978–7972214011299334534th WestOut of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
1979–807229412297364603rd WestLost West Division final - Defeated by Victoria 4-0
1980–817226460318393523rd WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Portland 4-0
1981–827236342339310743rd WestLost West Division final - Defeated by Portland 4-2
1982–837224471319418494th WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Portland 4-0
1983–847232391350379654th WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Kamloops 5-0
1984–857225443320416535th WestOut of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
1985–867227432373413564th WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Kamloops 5-0
1986–877221474328430465th WestOut of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
1987–887225462313436525th WestOut of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
1988–897233354315276705th WestOut of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
1989–9072521734442951072nd WestLost West Division final - Defeated by Kamloops 5-1
1990–917242264319317883rd WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Spokane 5-1
1991–927233345292285714th WestLost West Division final - Defeated by Kamloops 4-2
1992–937231383234292654th WestLost West Division quarter-final - Defeated by Kamloops 4-1
1993–947232373283312674th WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Kamloops 4-2
1994–957242282319282863rd WestEliminated in round-robin - Eliminated in round-robin 0-4
1995–967229367255281655th WestLost West Division quarter-final - Defeated by Kamloops 4-1
1996–977241274311249862nd WestLost Final - Defeated by Lethbridge 4-0
1997–987231356286278686th WestLost West Division quarter-final - Defeated by Portland 4-1
1998–9972372411279236853rd WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Tri-City 3-1
1999–0072342783250221793rd WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Prince George 3-0
2000–0172303381262299696th WestLost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Spokane 3-0
2001–0272214065235313534th U.S.Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Kootenay 4-0
2002–0372442233280224941st U.S.Lost Western Conference final - Defeated by Kelowna 4-1
2003–0472243189192198655th U.S.Out of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
2004–0572432423204144911st U.S.Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Kelowna 4-3
2005–0672353115186211762nd U.S.Lost Western Conference quarter-final - Defeated by Portland 4-3
2006–07723721311209186883rd U.S.Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Vancouver 4-1
2007–0872422352241179913rd U.S.Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Tri-City 4-1
2008–0972353214222234753rd U.S.Lost Western Conference quarter-final - Defeated by Spokane 4-1
2009–1072194175172255505th U.S.Out of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
2010–1172293733219285645th U.S.Out of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
2011–1272254511173292525th U.S.Out of playoffs - Out of Playoffs
2012–1372243873210286584th U.S.Lost Western Conference quarter-final - Defeated by Kelowna 4-3
2013–1472412524238249882nd U.S.Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Kelowna 4-0
2014–1572382545218201853rd U.S.Lost Western Conference quarter-final - Defeated by Portland 4-2
2015–1672452340228186941st U.S.Lost Final - Defeated by Brandon 4-1
2016–1772462042253206982nd U.S.Won Ed Chynoweth Cup over Regina 4-2
2017–1872342882250258785th U.S.Lost Western Conference Quarter-final - Defeated by Everett 4-1
2018–1968312962231245705th U.S.Lost Western Conference Quarter-final - Defeated by Vancouver 4-2

WHL Championship history

Current roster

Updated December 9, 2019.[4]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Drafted
4 Zachary Ashton D R 18 2019 Calgary, Alberta Undrafted
22 Luke Bateman D L 17 2017 Kamloops, British Columbia Eligible 2021
6 Tyrel Bauer (A) D R 17 2017 Cochrane, Alberta Eligible 2020
20 Conner Bruggen-Cate (A) LW R 20 2019 Langley, British Columbia Undrafted
14 Tyler Carpendale LW R 19 2015 Powell River, British Columbia Undrafted
47 Lucas Ciona LW L 16 2018 Edmonton, Alberta Eligible 2021
29 Jared Davidson C L 17 2018 Edmonton, Alberta Eligible 2020
5 Hunter Donohoe D L 19 2019 Surrey, British Columbia Undrafted
27 Ryan Gottfried D L 18 2019 Winnipeg, Manitoba Undrafted
11 Keltie Jeri-Leon RW R 19 2019 Kelowna, British Columbia Undrafted
2 Simon Kubicek D R 17 2018 Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic Eligible 2020
18 Andrej Kukuca (A) RW R 20 2018 Trencin, Slovakia Undrafted
40 Blake Lyda G L 17 2019 Edmonton, Alberta Eligible 2020
3 Cade McNelly D L 18 2017 Westlock, Alberta Eligible 2020
19 Payton Mount RW R 17 2017 Victoria, British Columbia Eligible 2020
28 Max Patterson RW R 19 2019 Kamloops, British Columbia Undrafted
32 Matthew Rempe C R 17 2018 Calgary, Alberta Eligible 2020
1 Roddy Ross G L 19 2019 Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan 2019, 169th Overall, PHI
34 Conner Roulette LW L 16 2018 Winnipeg, Manitoba Eligible 2021
12 Henry Rybinski LW R 18 2019 Vancouver, British Columbia 2019, 136th Overall, FLA
15 Mekai Sanders RW R 16 2018 Gig Harbor, Washington Eligible 2021
16 Kai Uchacz C R 16 2018 De Winton, Alberta Eligible 2021
25 Owen Williams D L 19 2018 Delta, British Columbia Undrafted
23 Brendan Williamson C L 17 2019 Chilliwack, British Columbia Eligible 2020

Team records

Team records for a single season
StatisticTotalSeason
Most points1071989–90
Most wins521989–90
Most goals for4441989–90
Fewest goals for1722009–10
Fewest goals against1442004–05
Most goals against4361987–88
Individual player records for a single season
StatisticPlayerTotalSeason
Most goalsGlen Goodall761989–90
Most assistsVictor Gervais961989–90
Most pointsGlen Goodall1631989–90
Most points (rookie)Petr Nedved1451989–90
Most points (defenseman)Craig Channell881981–82
Most penalty minutesMitch Wilson4361981–82
Most shutouts (goalie)Bryan Bridges132004–05
Best GAA (goalie)Bryan Bridges1.792004–05
Goalies = minimum 1500 minutes played

Career records

  • Most goals, individual: 262 – Glen Goodall, 1984–90
  • Most assists, individual: 311 – Glen Goodall, 1984–90
  • Most points, individual: 573 – Glen Goodall, 1984–90
  • Most penalty minutes, individual: 929 – Phil Stanger, 1980–83
  • Best goals against average, goaltender: 2.28 – Bryan Bridges, 2003–06
  • Most shutouts, goaltender: 20 – Bryan Bridges, 2003–06
  • Most saves, goaltender: 7727 – Calvin Pickard, 2008–12
  • Most games played, Goaltender: 241 – Calvin Pickard, 2008–12

NHL alumni

Several National Hockey League players started with the Thunderbirds:

Totals include both the Seattle Thunderbirds and Seattle Breakers.

See also

References

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