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SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS 2017 - 2018

2017 WHL CHAMPIONS Supplement published by the Auburn, Covington/MapleValley/BlackDiamond, Kent and Renton Reporters


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Welcome to Kent! …and to the Western Hockey League Champion Seattle Thunderbirds 201718 season as the T-Birds defend their WHL Championship! The season commences with a thrilling celebration at ShoWare Center as the T-Birds will celebrate their historic 2016-2017 season by raising the Western Conference Champion and Western Hockey League Champion banners.

2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

(Pittsburgh Penguins), Turner Ottenbreit (Anaheim Ducks) and Sami Moilanen (Colorado Avalanche). Carl Stankowski, who backstopped the T-Birds to their first WHL Championship in franchise history, will be back in net this season.

Watch out for some rookies to have an impact this season, including new Russian forward Nikita Malukhin and last year’s first overall Bantam Pick defenseman

Mayor Suzette Cooke This will be an exciting season under the direction of former assistant coach and Jake Lee. Returning this year is the T-Birds’ now head coach, Matt O’Dette. There will be several new faces but also popular 2-for-Tuesday promotion, where fans can enjoy two-for-one many key returners. Jarret Tyszka was tickets and beer along with $2 selected by the Montreal Canadiens concession specials. Pub Nights, Turkey in the 2017 NHL Draft. Three other Shoot and Ham Shoot are great games players from last year’s Championship to make it out to. You also won’t want team attended NHL Development to miss the first annual Weiner Dog Camps this summer: Nolan Volcan Races this season.

www.seattlethunderbirds.com

If you’re a new visitor to ShoWare Center, you should know we are immensely proud of this 9-year-old state-of-the-art arena. The 6,125 seats, 20 suites and astonishing Heritage Club seating have unsurpassed hockey sightlines throughout. While you’re in town, grab a bite at Kent Station, a contemporary, open-air urban village with a variety of options for pre and postgame gatherings, but don’t leave your car there during an event as it 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 are calling your name. Go Birds!

2017 - 2018 SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS

FAN GUIDE

a special supplement of Sound Publishing and Kent Reporter publisher POLLY SHEPHERD advertising JOY ALFORD, CAROL GREILING, NATALIE ROUTH, MARIE SKOOR, LISA YASKUS design JULIE BLACK KENT

Suzette Cooke Mayor, City of Kent

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www.seattlethunderbirds.com

Over 120 Years of Selling Experience

About...

This family owned business, opened its doors July of 1982 in a small portable building (600sq.ft.) with the help of good friends. Their beginnings were very sparse with catalog books, a hand truck and a beat up delivery truck. With six basic white, low end appliances placed on the showroom floor King and Bunnys was opened. King and Bunnys, now many years later, has had four remodels and expanded to 3200 sq.ft. with a beautiful showroom displaying over 200 major home appliances. They have a local warehouse with over 400 units in stock, all available for immediate delivery.

King and Bunnys is located on Sunset Blvd (SR900) in Renton, WA, just 2.5 miles east from I-405. Three miles away is the Boeing plant were the 737 and the 737MAX airplanes are manufactured and next door to Boeing is Paccar where Kenworth trucks are manufactured. King and Bunnys is entrenched in the local community; they believe in giving back. Throughout the years King and Bunny, as well as their team members, have volunteered, been involved with service clubs, chambers, sport clubs and civic organizations. King and Bunnys support

auctions, local events, schools, charities, service clubs and much more. King and Bunnys is a member of Nationwide, a 3000 member buying and marketing group, whose collective buying power is over 15 billion dollars annually. This appliance buying power is equal to Sears or Home Depot and Lowes combined. Hence, King and Bunnys “WHAMMER DEAL”! King and Bunnys offer competitive prices, knowledgeable team members, in stock inventory, fast deliveries, quality installation, doing business with integrity, honesty, and caring customer service.

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

www.seattlethunderbirds.com

SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS 2016-17 WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE SUITE /

ENTRY

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THE HOCKEY STORE DOORS

FREE PARKING

CONCESSIONS

is available both onsite at accesso ShoWare Center as well as in lots in close walking distance throughout downtown Kent. Additional free parking is available across James Street at the Regional Justice Center Garage after 6:00 PM, and at the James Street Park & Ride. There is no event parking permitted at Kent Station, at Kent Commons or in the North Park Neighborhood.

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

www.seattlethunderbirds.com

2017-18 SEASON SCHEDULE

Supporting Youth Sports in Our Community WWW.THUNDERBIRDSFOUNDATION.ORG

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

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LEFT WING

RIGHT WING

ZACK ANDRUSIAK

How Acquired: From the Swift Current Broncos for Mackenzie Wight on December 15, 2016. NHL Draft: Free Agent Shoots: Left Height: 6’2 Weight: 196 Birthday: April 11, 1997 Hometown: Regina, SK

BLAKE BARGAR

How Acquired: From the Prince Albert Raiders for Cavin Leth on October 20, 2016. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 5’11 Weight: 181 Birthday: July 10, 1998 Hometown: Yorkton, SK

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GOALIE

CENTER

ELIJAH BROWN

How Acquired: From the Spokane Chiefs on October 7, 2016 for a conditional selection in the 2017 Bantam Draft.

GRAEME BRYKS

How Acquired: Drafted 1st round, 15th overall, in 2015 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 5’9 Weight: 168 Birthday: January 5, 2000 Hometown: Edmonton, AB

ONE COLLEGE MANY PATHS With over 100 professional and technical degrees and

How Acquired: From the Victoria Royals on August 2, 2017, for defenseman Anthony Bishop. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Right Height: 5’11 Weight: 194 Birthday: March 6, 1998 Hometown: Torrance, CA

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CENTER

MATT BERLIN

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LEFT WING

TYLER ADAMS

NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 6’3 Weight: 194 Birthday: January 20, 1998 Hometown: Edmonton, AB

www.seattlethunderbirds.com

How Acquired: Drafted 8th round, 172nd overall, in the 2016 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2019 Shoots: Left Height: 6’2 Weight: 207 Birthday: January 22, 2001 Hometown: Edmonton, AB

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

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TYLER CARPENDALE How Acquired: Sixth round, 125th overall, in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Right Height: 6’4 Weight: 197 Birthday: January 26, 2000 Hometown: Powell River, BC 

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SAMUEL HUO How Acquired: Listed by the T-Birds during the 2016-17 hockey season. NHL Draft: Eligible 2019 Shoots: Right Height: 6’3 Weight: 176 Birthday: July 13, 2001 Hometown: Richmond, BC

www.seattlethunderbirds.com

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LEFT WING

DEFENSE

DILLON HAMALIUK How Acquired: Drafted 6th round, 111th overall, in 2015 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2019 Shoots: Left Height: 6’3 Weight: 182 Birthday: October 30, 2000 Hometown: Red Deer, AB

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How Acquired: Drafted, 8th round, 170th overall, in 2014. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Right Height: 6’4 Weight: 191 Birthday: January 7, 1999 Hometown: Grand Prairie, AB

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DEFENSE

CENTER

AARON HYMAN How Acquired: From Calgary Hitmen for a third-round selection in the 2018 Bantam Draft on December 27, 2016.

NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Right Height: 6’5 Weight: 221 Birthday: April 19, 1998 Hometown: Calgary, AB

REECE HARSCH

HOLDEN KATZALAY How Acquired: Signed by T-Birds to WHL Standard Player Agreement June 16, 2017. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Right Height: 6’3 Weight: 184 Birthday: January 12, 2000 Hometown: Vancouver, BC

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

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DEFENSE

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RIGHT WING

JAKE LEE

DEFENSE

NIKITA MALUKHIN

How Acquired: Drafted, 1st round, 18th overall, in 2016 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2019 Shoots: Left Height: 6’2 Weight: 197 Birthday: July 13, 2001 Hometown: Sherwood Park, AB

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DONOVAN NEULS

How Acquired: Selected by T-Birds in 1st round, 49th overall in 2016 Import Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 5’9 Weight: 185 Birthday: January 21, 1999 Hometown: Sipoo, FIN

How Acquired: Signed by T-Birds to WHL Standard. NHL Draft: Eligible 2019 Shoots: Left Height: 6’2 Weight: 178 Birthday: October 17, 2001 Hometown: Westlock, AB

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CENTER

SAMI MOILANEN

LUKE ORMSBY

How Acquired: Drafted, 8th round, 157th overall, in 2012 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Free Agent Shoots: Left Height: 5’11 Weight: 193 Birthday: October 24, 1997 Hometown: Grenfell, SK

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CADE MCNELLY

How Acquired: Selected by T-Birds in 1st round, 50th overall, in 2017 Import Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 6’3 Weight: 202 Birthday: July 15, 2000 Hometown: Kazan, RUS

RIGHT WING

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www.seattlethunderbirds.com

How Acquired: Drafted 9th round, 192th overall, in 2014 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Right Height: 5’10 Weight: 182 Birthday: February 14, 1999 Hometown: Monroe, WA

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

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www.seattlethunderbirds.com

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DEFENSE

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CENTER

TURNER OTTENBREIT How Acquired: From the Saskatoon Blades for Adam Henry on September 29, 2014. NHL Draft: Free Agent Shoots: Left Height: 6’4 Weight: 193 Birthday: July 9, 1997 Hometown: Yorkton, SK

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RIGHT WING

CONNOR PYNE

CODY SAVEY

How Acquired: Drafted 3rd round, 52nd overall, in 2015 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 6’2 Weight: 198 Birthday: February 29, 2000 Hometown: White City, SK

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GOALIE

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COLE SCHWEBIUS How Acquired: Drafted 10th round, 216th overall, in the 2016 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2019 Shoots: Left Height: 5’10 Weight: 173 Birthday: April 11, 2001 Hometown: Kelowna, BC

How Acquired: Signed by T-Birds to WHL Standard Player Agreement February 13, 2017. NHL Draft: Eligible 2019 Shoots: Right Height: 6’0 Weight: 218 Birthday: July 24, 2001 Hometown: Gold River, BC

DEFENSE

CARL STANKOWSKI

AUSTIN STRAND

How Acquired: Drafted 2nd round, 37th overall, in 2015 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 5’10 Weight: 175 Birthday: March 9, 2000 Hometown: Calgary, AB

How Acquired: From the Red Deer Rebels for Brandon Schuldhaus on December 30, 2016. NHL Draft: Free Agent Shoots: Right Height: 6’4 Weight: 193 Birthday: February 17, 1997 Hometown: Calgary, AB

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

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www.seattlethunderbirds.com

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DEFENSE

DEFENSE

TYSON TERRETTA How Acquired: Drafted 7th round, 147th overall, in 2015 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Right Height: 6’2 Weight: 181 Birthday: February 22, 2000 Hometown: High River, AB

JARRET TYSZKA How Acquired: Drafted 1st round, 16th overall, in 2014 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: By the Montreal

Canadiens, 5th round, 149th overall, in 2017 NHL Draft.

Shoots: Left Height: 6’3 Weight: 199 Birthday: March 15, 1999 Hometown: Langley, BC

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CENTER

NOLAN VOLCAN

How Acquired: Drafted 2nd round, 38th overall, in 2014. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 6’3 Weight: 195 Birthday: May 25, 1999 Hometown: Edmonton, AB

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How Acquired: Drafted, 2nd round, 27th overall, in 2013 Bantam Draft. NHL Draft: Eligible 2018 Shoots: Left Height: 5’9 Weight: 192 Birthday: July 4, 1998 Hometown: Edmonton, AB

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www.seattlethunderbirds.com

Next Generation of T-Birds Looking To Make An Impact By Andy Eide, 710 ESPN Seattle mynorthwest.com/category/thunderbirds

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he names won’t soon be forgotten amongst Seattle Thunderbirds fans. Barzal, Gropp, Kolesar, Bear, Eansor and True. Players big enough that you don’t need to hear their first name to know who they are. They were part of a special group that came up together and ended their Seattle careers by doing something none of their predecessors had, win the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Those players have all moved on and the new generation of Thunderbirds are now ready for their time in the spotlight. Defenseman Jake Lee is one of the new T-Birds and the 2016 firstround Bantam pick is excited to be part of the Seattle

family. I’ll fit in good with the lineup and “I couldn’t be happier to be there’s a big role to play this year. part of this new generation,” A bigger role is going to come to Lee says. “They’ve left such me and I’m excited for it.” an amazing legacy behind and Brown could be a key player for hopefully we can finish what the Thunderbirds this season. The they started.” players that moved on took a lot Lee is entering his first full of goals with them and Seattle will season with the Thunderbirds, need young guys like Brown to pick although the 16-year-old rookie up some of the scoring slack. Andy Eide did get into a handful of games Like Lee, Brown soaked in the last season. None were bigger than the two experience of the long playoff and Memorial Cup games he played filling in for an injured Ethan run last season. Bear against Kelowna in the Western Conference “You took it all in,” he says. “Every second of Finals. it around the rink, whether it was practice or the He looks at that experience as a oncegames. I didn’t get in the lineup much but you in-a-lifetime one, especially for only still felt it all. After every win, in the room with being 15-years-old at the time. Lee also everybody happy. There’s still things you can appreciates getting a chance to learn from learn.” the older players while they were still here Brown and Lee aren’t the only young guns who in Seattle. will step into bigger roles with the Thunderbirds “I learned multiple things from my this year. Goalie Carl Stankowski broke out teammates,” the Alberta product says of during last year’s playoffs and at only 17-yearshis experience last season. “Especially old, has a long Thunderbird career ahead of him. Ethan Bear, I learned a lot from him. There are also players like Dillon Hamaliuk, He was a really good guy and he Tyler Carpendale, and Cody Savey who got a brief helped me with a ton of things.” look last year and will be looking to step into Second year center Elijah Brown bigger roles now. Down the road, 2017 draft picks is entering his 17-year-old season Payton Mount and Tyrel Bauer will be in the mix. and looking to take on a bigger role. This changing of the guard is not unique to The 2015 first-round pick got into the Thunderbirds. Junior hockey is a cycle. Good 64 games with Seattle last year and teams have to restock, rebuild and transition chipped in four goals and 13 points. as the older players move on. As one group It was a learning experience for graduates, the younger generation step in to fill Brown, who was relegated to a fourththe void. line role for most of the season due to There may be growing pains along the way, just the depth Seattle had at center. The as there were five years ago when the Barzal’s of top-three centers from last season are the world were still figuring out how to play the now gone and Brown has a chance to game. However, Seattle’s young guys have seen it earn a larger role with the club. work, seen what it takes to win and will look to “I know I’m ready,” Brown replicate the success of those that came before says. “Obviously we had them as best they can. pretty good depth at “Obviously we’re losing a lot of guys but I center with True, think we’ve got good skill, leaders and good Barzal and faces coming into the organization,” Brown says. Eansor. I “This year should be a good year and I’m looking think for success but it’s the team first. I’m very excited to see how this team does.” Elijah Brown

For Thunderbirds updates all season long, follow Andy on Twitter @andyeide


2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

www.seattlethunderbirds.com

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Donovan Neuls: Last Man Standing By Thom Beuning, T-Birds play-by-play voice http://thombeuningsinthecorners.blogspot.com/

T

he Seattle Thunderbirds 2012 Bantam Draft class may very well go down as one of the best, if not the best, in franchise history. Seattle made nine selections that spring and would sign their top seven choices to play for the organization. Three of those picks would become NHL draft selections and four would eventually sign NHL contracts. The draft class was led by the top three selections, including number one overall pick Mathew Barzal. The class would propel the T-Birds to one U.S. Division banner, two Western Conference Championships and the franchise’s first ever WHL Championship. It would include one WHL Defenseman of the Year honoree along with a playoff MVP. When all is said and done, that draft class combined will have played 26 seasons of WHL hockey. Not all seven of those players made their full marks in the league as career Thunderbirds. Third round pick, goaltender Logan Flodell, played two seasons with Seattle before being dealt to Saskatoon last fall. Lane Pederson, the team’s fifth round selection, was dealt before the start of the 2015-16 season to Swift Current. Luke Osterman, one of two eighth round choices spent two seasons with the T-Birds. But when the Thunderbirds raised the Ed Chynoweth Cup after Game 6 of the WHL

Donovan Neuls

Championship Series against Regina, against Portland. More importantly, four of those drafted players were on the coaching staff recognized his the ice to celebrate. All four were key ability to play a 200-foot game. contributors to the championship run. During the second half of that rookie Now, just over five years after that season he was put on a line with Scott memorable draft, only one player from Eansor, and 16-year old rookie Nolan that draft remains. Volcan, to form a shutdown line. They Donovan Neuls, from tiny were often matched on the ice against Grenfell, Saskatchewan, is the last an opponent’s top offensive threats. holdover from that draft. He was the Despite being out against top lines he first of two eighth round picks Seattle finished the season at plus-9. had back in May of 2012. He was the His role as a shutdown, defensive 157th player chosen. Recalling his forward continued into his second Thom Beuning draft day experience Neuls said, “I season as the T-Birds captured the remember sitting there with my mom U.S. Division pennant, a Western and dad, and I think a couple of friends were over. Conference Championship and advanced to the A bunch of my buddies were going (in the draft) WHL Final against Brandon. He also doubled his but I just really didn’t worry about it too much. “ goal output with 14 while registering 39 points. Not much is expected from eighth round picks, He added 10 more points in the postseason run, but Neuls isn’t your ordinary eighth rounder. including five goals. Neuls, who enters his fourth and final season with This past season Neuls showed his versatility Seattle this fall, is the typical small-town prairie while the team dealt all year with injuries. Slated boy picked by the big city team. He didn’t know to be on the team’s third line, he often found too much about the Thunderbirds organization himself on the second or first line in the absence of except this; earlier in that draft they had selected top centers Barzal and Eansor. He put up a career one of his close friends. “My good buddy Ethan best 41 points during the regular season but shined Bear was drafted in the second round, so I was kind once again in the playoffs averaging over a point a of excited because I knew someone who was drafted game, included eight goals. to Seattle as well. It made things a lot easier.” While Alexander True’s overtime game winner Unlike his friend Bear, Neuls did not play in clinched the Cup, Neuls had two of the bigger Seattle as a 16-year old. He waited until his 17postseason goals for the Thunderbirds last spring. year old season to join the club full time. But it In Game 1 of Round Two versus Everett, he scored was during his 16-year old season, while playing the game winner with just under a minute left and for the Moose Jaw Generals at the MACs AAA World Seattle would go on to sweep the Silvertips. Then Invitational Tournament in Calgary, that he got in Game 1 of the league final at the Brandt Centre help making up his mind. “Peter Anholt (former in Regina, he potted the game winner 14 seconds T-Bird scout and current Lethbridge General into overtime to put the T-Birds up 1-0 in the bestManager), he was, I think, the Saskatchewan of-seven series. It was the first time in franchise scout, so I talked to him quite a bit. history that Seattle led a Championship Series. They (The T-Birds) were in Red Deer Psychologically that may have been the most at the time and he mentioned important goal of the postseason. The previous that they would like me year, in the Championship Series against Brandon, to come practice. Seattle had dropped Game 1 in overtime. In fact, So, I went and I they went on to lose the first three games in really liked it. overtime and lost the series to the Wheat Kings in It was a good five games. If they had lost another Championship group of guys, Series opener in OT, it could have had them so doubting themselves. later “I imagine that was in the minds of a lot of on guys, but we knew we needed to get the first that one,” Neuls said. He added that despite what year I happened the year before in the Brandon series, the ended up players were confident because they had success signing in overtime games earlier in last season’s playoffs, and came winning once in extra time against Everett and down for once more against Kelowna. “I don’t know if that playoffs.” helped us or not, but it was pretty nice to score 14 As a 17seconds into the overtime frame.” year old rookie, The T-Birds hope the postseason offensive Neuls put up 24 display by Neuls the past two years, which featured points (7g, 17a). 33 points in 38 games including 13 goals, is a sign He added two assists CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE in six playoff games


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our older guys, guys who are moving on, so there is going to be pressure to show ‘em (the younger players) the ropes but I think it’s gonna be a pretty fun year.” And while Neuls is the last remnant of that 2012 Thunderbirds draft class, when he takes the ice this season he’ll have another good friend from back home helping him in that leadership role. Defenseman Turner Ottenbreit was also drafted in 2012, albeit by the Saskatoon Blades. He was traded to Seattle just before the start of the 201415 season. He’s been Neuls’ teammate in Kent for

three years now. He’s from Yorkton, just a little over an hour’s drive from Grenfell. According to Ottenbreit, “Donny’s a great guy. I mean at the rink obviously a great teammate, a guy everyone wants to be around, but away from the rink, you want something, you need anything, you can go talk to him. He’s a really down to earth guy and I think that’s why everyone looks up to him.” Neuls, like his teammates, spent the summer enjoying being a WHL champion. He went back to Grenfell and got away from hockey a bit by playing baseball. “It’s fun. It gets me out in the summer time. It gives me something to do and it’s another great group of guys.” He even brought the Chynoweth Cup and some of his T-Bird teammates to one of his baseball games. As for his 2012 draft class teammates who have moved on, he wishes them nothing but the best and says he’s made lifelong friends. He’ll think about his own hockey future down the road but right now he’s focusing on one final season as a Seattle Thunderbird, the last man standing from one of the T-Birds best bantam drafts.

of things to come this season. With 371 points graduated out of the program off last season’s roster, they know they’ll need Neuls to score if they are to be a playoff team next spring. He’s always been a very good defensive forward, highlighted by his role the past two seasons on Seattle’s penalty killing unit. As an assistant coach the past four seasons Matt O’Dette ran the team’s PK. He knows what Neuls is capable of in that regard, but now as the team’s new head coach, O’Dette also believes in Neuls’ offensive abilities. “We expect him to pick up his production and the luxury is he is a 200-foot player and he will be able to chip in more offensively while at the same time be very responsible defensively.” O’Dette also knows there is a leadership vacuum with the absence of players like Barzal, Eansor and Keegan Kolesar. He believes Neuls is ready to pick up the mantle. “Well, I think he’s a team guy. Over the years he’d done whatever we’ve asked of him with zero complaints, and you know he’ll do things the right way.” O’Dette says Neuls has a professional approach, day in and day out, that will rub off on his teammates adding, “he’s excited to take on that role and I know he’ll do a great job.” Neuls understands his role both on the ice and in the locker room will increase this season. “Sure, being a leader, there is pressure with it. We’ll be a young team obviously. We lose a lot of Donovan Neuls holds up the Ed Chynoweth Cup in the Homecoming Celebration. Photo by Brian Liesse 2017

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Thom Beuning is the radio play-by-play voice of the Seattle Thunderbirds. This season Thom can be heard calling all games on 1090 The Fan. Follow him on Twitter at @thombeuning.


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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

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T-Birds Hope To Continue Raising The Bar In 2017-18 By Tim Pigulski, 710 ESPN Seattle mynorthwest.com/category/thunderbirds

2017 was a special year for the Seattle Thunderbirds. In their 40-year history, it was the first time that the Thunderbirds won the Western Hockey League Championship. It was the second time that the organization participated in the Memorial Cup, but the first time they ever qualified as champions of their respective league (Seattle hosted the round-robin tournament in 1992). Seattle fell short of their ultimate goal in the Memorial Cup, but accomplished what no Thunderbirds team had ever done. In his press conference following the team’s elimination in Windsor, Ontario, former head coach Steve

Sami Moilanen

Islanders system. Kolesar was part Konowalchuk said that the team of a draft-day trade that sent him established a new bar – a new to the NHL’s newest franchise, the standard for success – with their Las Vegas Golden Knights. Bear, a historic run. fifth-round NHL draft pick in 2015, Last year will remain is now a highly-regarded prospect imprinted in the minds of in the Edmonton Oilers system. And players, coaches, and fans alike, finally, there’s True, an undrafted but many were still left wanting free agent whose impressive more. Ask most players and performance last season earned coaches what the ultimate goal Tim Pigulski him a tryout and eventual contract is, and they’ll tell you that it’s with the San Jose Barracudas, the San to win a Memorial Cup. Fans were Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate. incredibly supportive of what last year’s squad It will certainly be a foreign feeling for the accomplished, but undoubtedly would have loved Seattle faithful who have become accustomed to to bask in the glory of a Memorial Cup victory seeing Barzal’s name stitched above the number with a club that was as inspirational off the ice 13 on the back of his jersey for the past four as it was on it. seasons. In addition to Konowalchuk, who departed the But as we are reminded every year with the Thunderbirds for an assistant coach position with developmental nature of Junior Hockey, you the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks in June, this T-Birds can’t become too attached to players as they’ll team will look very different than the one move on after just a couple of years. we saw last year. Gone are a number of Looking forward to a 2017-18 season where players who captured the hearts of a city for the better part of five seasons. the Thunderbirds will have the difficult task of replicating their success from last year, there Ryan Gropp, Scott Eansor, and remain plenty of familiar faces. Rylan Toth depart the team after The team should be led by the gritty, hardcompleting their 20-year-old working play of veterans like Donovan Neuls, seasons. Gropp and Eansor Nolan Volcan, Sami Moilanen and Turner both pursue professional Ottenbreit. Neuls, Volcan and Ottenbreit will opportunities in New York likely all wear letters on their jerseys signifying with the Rangers and their importance both on the ice and in the Islanders respectively. Toth, locker room. who goaltended the team to They’ll also receive an infusion of young talent its regular season success but from players like Elijah Brown, who spent time was injured for much of the with the team last year in a minor role, Jake Lee, postseason, keeps the same mascot the team’s 2016 first-round pick who was with as he continues his career with the T-Birds through the playoffs, and goaltender the University of British Columbia Carl Stankowski, who won over the hearts Thunderbirds, taking advantage of the of spectators across the WHL with his gutsy WHL Scholarship Program. performance as a rookie in the WHL playoffs Other departures include Mathew filling in for an injured Toth. Barzal, Keegan Kolesar, Ethan In between, you’ll have players who were Bear, and Alexander True, perhaps acquired midseason to help push the who will all join the team over the top – guys like Austin Strand professional ranks next and Aaron Hyman. Or maybe they were younger year. Barzal will players who will be expected to be bigger remain close with contributors this year after learning the ropes Eansor in the over the past couple of seasons – players like New York Luke Ormsby, Matthew Wedman, and Jarret Tyszka, who was drafted by the CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE


2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE

Montreal Canadiens this offseason. And then behind the bench, you’ll have two new faces, but three new coaches. Matt O’Dette, who coached the T-Birds’ defensive group for four seasons, has been promoted to take over for Konowalchuk. His familiarity with the players and system should help alleviate some of the growing pains that often are associated with a

www.seattlethunderbirds.com

head coach’s departure. Kyle Hagel and Castan Sommer join the staff as assistants, filling in for O’Dette and the departed Tyler Alos. In 2016, the Thunderbirds lost in the WHL Finals to the Brandon Wheat Kings, giving the team a taste of success, but leaving them hungry for so much more. In 2017, they built on that success, winning the franchise’s first ever WHL Championship.

Turner Ottenbreit in action against the Kelowna Rockets. Photo by Brian Liesse 2017

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It will be difficult to top the feeling from the overtime victory in Regina in Game 6 that clinched the title. But as this team continues to redefine what “success” means to them, anything becomes possible. For Thunderbirds updates all season long, follow Tim on Twitter @tpigulski

Jarret Tyszka in action aganist the Vancouver Giants. Photo by Brian Liesse 2016

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

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2017-2018 FAN GUIDE

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Seattle Thunderbirds - 2017 Fan Guide  

i20170906143107851.pdf

Seattle Thunderbirds - 2017 Fan Guide  

i20170906143107851.pdf