Thunderbirds close training camp with annual Blue-White game
KENT – The Thunderbirds wrapped up their main training camp Sunday with the annual Blue-White game at the ShoWare Center.
Team White came out on top by a 5-4 score after they potted three unanswered goals in the third period to come back and get the win. It was a chippy affair that saw a lot of post-whistle action that came with a fair amount of trash talking on both sides.
“It will be nice to finally play a different team,” Donovan Neuls said after. “I’m sure guys are getting sick of each other.”
The team will now get a week of practice in before heading to Everett for three preseason games this coming weekend. For the rookies, this coming week and weekend will be another chance to impress head coach Matt O’Dette and his staff.
For the veteran players, like Neuls, it’s a chance to get back into the groove of playing regular games. This is the 20-year-old’s last season with Seattle and he’s been enjoying training camp as much as he can.
“It’s gone good,” he said. “I’m trying to remember all of this one because it’s my last one so it’s been fun.”
Neuls is coming off of a season where he played in every game for the Thunderbirds and set a new career high with 41 points. In the playoffs he exploded to add eight goals and 23 points, often playing on Seattle’s top line.
A lot more is expected from him this season as he will be asked to chip in more on the offensive side of things while still being sound defensively. He will also be playing a position that is somewhat new to him. Neuls played a lot of center last season when Scott Eansor was hurt in the second half.
Prior to filling in, he had not played much center coming up and is looking forward to the challenge this year.
“I don’t mind center,” Neuls said. “I played there the last half of last year and I really enjoy it.”
One of the team leaders now, Neuls may also be asked to wear the captain’s ‘C’. The team hasn’t decided on this year’s captain yet, but you have to think that Neuls will be in the discussion.
“It would mean a lot but there’s lots of guys, (Turner Ottenbreit) is a good leader, (Nolan) Volcan,” he said about the team’s leadership. “There’s tons of good leaders so if I don’t get it, it’s not going to hurt my feelings. I’m going to lead by example and show my leadership on the ice.”
As for the Blue-White game itself, Sunday’s inter-squad affair was highly entertaining.
Blue scored first after turning the puck over and getting it to Charles Obobaifo who beat goalie Eric Ward through the five-hole. They would extend their lead on the next shift when Luke Ormsby found Dillon Hamaliuk to make it 2-0 for the Blue.
Early in the second period the White team got a goal back after Elijah Brown converted a turnover into a goal. White would then get the game squared up when Nakoda Greyeyes buried a shot four minutes into the third period.
Cody Savey gave the Blue Team the lead with just over seven minutes left in the third when he snapped a quick shot that found twine. Ottenbreit tied the game back up after taking a drop pass from Brown and flinging a wrist shot that scored.
Blake Barger gave White its first lead of the night when he banged home a rebound from right in front of the goal while on the power play. Then, 2017 first-round pick Payton Mount would score a few seconds later to make it 5-3. A last second marker by Blue got them back to within one, but that came with just three seconds left and not enough time for a comeback.
The T-Birds will trim the roster this week as they prepare for three games in Everett, starting with a Friday morning match up with the Vancouver Giants at Xfinity Arena.