With the WHL Championship series tied 2-2 and now a best-of-three, on one hand it almost feels like nothing has been accomplished. The Seattle Thunderbirds and Regina Pats have three games left to determine who will be crowned WHL Champion and represent the Western Hockey League in the Memorial Cup.
On the other hand, this Seattle Thunderbirds team has already built a long list of both individual and team postseason achievements, perhaps establishing them as the most accomplished group of Thunderbirds in team history.
First, some of the team achievements.
This year’s T-Birds team has two victories so far in the Championship series, giving them 14 this postseason, which is a franchise record. Seattle’s previous best came last year when they won one game against the Brandon Wheat Kings in the league final. During the 1996-97 season, the Patrick Marleau-led T-Birds won the Western Conference but were swept in four games by the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Not surprisingly, the T-Birds have also set a franchise record for most goals in one postseason with 72 and counting (their 24 power-play goals are also a team record). They’re led by Alexander True, whose 11 goals during the playoffs are also a record. Keegan Kolesar is hot on True’s tail with 10 goals of his own. The record before this year was held by Torry DiRoberto, who had nine during the 1996-97 postseason.
When it comes to individual accomplishments, the list is much longer.
In addition to having the most goals scored in a single postseason, True also holds the team record for most power play goals with seven.
Scott Eansor has made the playoffs in all four of his years as a Thunderbird, advancing twice to the Championship and once to the second round, setting the current record for postseason games played with 51 and counting. He also has scored more playoff goals than any Thunderbird in history with 21. The previous record-holder was Aaron Gagnon, who scored 18 between 2003 and 2007.
The goal-scoring record for a single playoffs isn’t the only one that Keegan Kolesar is in pursuit of. His 26 points currently have him tied with current teammate Mathew Barzal, who had 26 in last year’s playoffs.
Speaking of Barzal, he continues to score points at an incredible pace. He holds the career record for both playoff points and assists with 62 and 47, respectively. We’ve seen Barzal score at least one point in every playoff game this year and register at least one assist in 13 of the 14 games in which he’s played, so don’t be surprised if both of those career totals continue to increase.
In his rookie year, Carl Stankowski has already etched his name into the Seattle record books as well. His 14 wins during the playoffs are both a single-season and career record – pretty incredible considering he has twice the number of wins in the postseason as he does regular season games played.
Impressive accomplishments all around as Seattle prepares for their final home game of the 2016-17 season on Friday night, but none of those are important as turning those 14 wins into 16, which would earn the team their first-ever WHL Championship.