By Andrew Eide
KENT – The Thunderbirds finished their weekend training camp with their annual Blue-White game Monday evening at the ShoWare Center. The game was an entertaining, well played affair that was won in overtime by the White team. Roberts Lipsbergs got the game winner early in the overtime – his second goal of the night.
Head coach Steve Konowalchuk now will guide his team into its preseason schedule after getting a good look at his returning guys along with some impressive rookies. While it would seem that the team is a ways away from solidifying the forward lines, there does seem to be a great one emerging.
All weekend long Mathew Barzal has centered a line with Lipsbergs and Justin Hickman. They seem to already have developed a great deal of chemistry and were far and away the best line of the weekend. They were responsible for three of the White team’s four goals on Monday and have shown that they can drive the play. It will be interesting to see if that line stays together during the preseason games, if it does there is a good bet we will see them in the regular season.
The prospect of a second line involving Connor Honey and Alex Delnov would cause some serious matchup issues for opposing teams.
Three of the goalies competing for the starting nod were in action on Monday as well. With Danny Mumaugh nursing an injury, Devon Fordyce, Justin Myles and Logan Flodelll all got plenty of playing time. All three played well and it is still far too early to handicap the competition. It may very well come down to the wire as the preseason ends.
Defensively, the returning players look very strong. Shea Theodore scored a goal on Monday and has looked very good in camp. He has ripped off several nice end to end rushes and appears ready to go this year. Evan Wardley also has looked good in camp. Word is that he came into camp in outstanding shape and even scored two goals on Sunday, showing that he may have added a bit more offense to his game.
Jared Hauf also has shown an improved shot from the point. He didn’t shoot the puck much last year but in the scrimmages this weekend he looked to shoot more and it appears that he did some work on his slap shot this summer.
The rookies continued to impress on Monday. Newcomer Scott Eansor looks like he will be a quality center for the club. He is tough on the forecheck, skates with a lot of energy and could be a strong candidate to center a shut down line for the team.
2012 first-round pick Keegan Kolesar closed out camp strong and is a big strong kid who seems to have good hockey instinct as he is around the puck a lot. Lane Pederson is another rookie who looked good playing with Connor Honey and Alex Delnov this weekend.
There are still some roster questions that need to be answered and the next coming weeks should present us with a clearer picture of what the club’s roster will look like. They get the puck rolling this Friday as they take on the Tri City Americans as part of the Everett Preseason Classic. The game starts at 11:30 at the Comcast Center and they follow up with a game against Victoria on Saturday and Spokane on Sunday.
Follow Andrew on twitter @andyeide.