T-Birds training camp Day 4: Euros take center stage
KENT – The Thunderbirds had a full day of work Sunday for the last day of the full training camp. There were scrimmage sessions in the morning and afternoon. Monday night the roster will be paired down and the team will play its annual Blue-White game featuring regular timing and game uniforms. Monday’s game starts at 5:30 and is free to the public.
There was a lot to see Sunday. Here are some of the more noteworthy items:
Alexander True and Florian Baltram
Seattle’s two import players were front and center on Sunday. For Baltram, it was his first action of the camp as he only arrived the night before. He looked like a player who is a strong skater and will be a solid player for the T-Birds.
Sunday was the day that True seemed to find his stride.
The tall Dane scored a couple of nice goals and centered a line with Lane Pederson and Keegan Kolesar. Led by True, that line was strong all day long, scoring goals and controlling the puck. Those three could possibly form Seattle’s second scoring line this year. When the team plays exhibition games next weekend in Everett it will be interesting to see if coach Steve Konowalchuk keeps them together.
Danny Mumaugh returns
The 18-year-old goalie returned to the ice Sunday after missing most of the camp with a minor injury. Mumaugh made a strong debut, stopping all 11 shots he faced during his scrimmage. The goaltending situation remains one of the most intriguing in camp for the T-Birds. They have three and they only need two.
Pretty goal of the day
The best goal of the day belongs to Ryan Gropp, but it involved his linemates. The Gropp-Mathew Barzal-Justin Hickman line was strong again and after forcing a turnover down low it worked some magic. Hickman picked up the puck, got it to Barzal, who one-timed a pass to Gropp, who was crashing down the slot. The whole play happened in the blink of an eye as those three look like they will be one of the best lines in the league this year.
Runner-up goal of the day
The aforementioned True scored a pretty goal after he deked a defenseman at the blue line to spring him in alone. He patiently skated in and roofed a nice back-handed shot that found the net.
Scott Eansor scrappy as ever
Konowalchuk has made sure that Scott Eansor is on the ice against Barzal all during the scrimmages. It’s good competition for both players as it stands to reason that Eansor will see top players all year and Barzal will see other clubs’ best defenders as well. Sunday, Eansor held his own against Barzal. He was flying around the ice, causing havoc and looks ready to reclaim his shut-down center role with the club.
Funniest moment of the day
Scrimmages can get chippy from time to time, despite these guys all being teammates. In the afternoon session, Sam McKechnie did not appreciate a hit from rookie defenseman Brandon Schuldhaus. After the play they pushed each other a bit and McKechnie yanked the defenseman’s stick out of his hands and proceeded to skate back towards the bench with it. Schuldhaus skated behind, following before McKechnie finally dropped the stick to the ice.
Blue-White game Monday
There will be some players who have to go home before Monday’s final game of training camp. Seattle still has several tough roster decisions left to make over the next few weeks. Those questions will not be answered on Monday. While there are a few rookies who will make the roster, so much depends on what happens with Seattle’s five remaining over-agers. Seattle still has Justin Hickman, Sam McKechnie, Taran Kozun, Evan Wardley and Adam Henry on the roster. Only three can remain.
It appears that Connor Honey’s time in Seattle is over. The 20-year-old forward has not been at camp and the team gave rookie Nick Holowko his No. 14 jersey. All those signs seem to indicate that Honey will not be in the mix for the T-Birds this season.