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T-Birds notebook: Ethan Bear sets franchise mark

Ethan Bear has scored more goals than any other T-Birds defenseman ever has (Brian Liesse/T-Birds)

Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Ethan Bear had a pretty good last week. The Edmonton Oilers prospect had 10 points in five games and was named WHL Player of the week.

This past Saturday, in a game against the Portland Winterhawks, he scored twice and added a couple of assists. The goals were his 24th and 25th of the season.

Off the ice, Bear is quiet and humble and is not eager to brag about himself or his skill. That could explain why his passing of a franchise milestone flew under the radar.

Bear’s 25 goals this year give him 63 in his WHL career which is more than any other Thunderbird defenseman has ever scored. Bear’s goal during Seattle’s 8-5 win over Portland on Feb. 11th was his 59th career marker which moved him one past former Thunderbird Shea Theodore for the top spot.

Theodore is the Thunderbirds all-time leader in points by a defenseman with 212 and Bear currently trails that mark by 28 points. Bear’s 184 career points is more than former T-Bird Thomas Hickey piled up in his time with the club and he trails only Theodore for the Thunderbird mark. Seattle Breakers’ defenseman Craig Channell scored 187 points in his career so Bear should easily pass him to end up second in the franchise’s overall history.

Getting 28 points in the 12 games left on the schedule is probably a stretch for Bear so catching Theodore is probably out reach,but he’s also 15 points away from tying the great Patrick Marleau in points as a T-Bird.  The offensive numbers that Bear has accumulated are impressive and its even more impressive when you consider that he does it while playing against the opponent’s top lines each night.

While Bear doesn’t get all the attention that Mathew Barzal, Ryan Gropp or Keegan Kolesar get, he’s going to end his WHL career as one of the franchise’s best players ever.

Bear and the T-Birds will be in Kennewick on Friday as they will play another three-in-three weekend. After the game against the Americans they will return home for a home game Saturday against the Kelowna Rockets and a Sunday afternoon clash with the Everett Silvertips.

Here’s the latest news surrounding the team.

Konowalchuk climbing the ladder

Ethan Bear isn’t the only Thunderbird climbing up the team’s record book. Head coach Steve Konowalchuk is three wins away from tying Don Nachbauer for the second most wins behind the Seattle bench. Nachbauer, who is currently behind the Spokane Chiefs bench, won 214 games as coach of the Thunderbirds from 1994 to 2000.

Konowalchuk has won 211 games and is currently 27 wins away from passing Rob Sumner for the most wins for a Seattle coach but will have to wait until next year to hit that mark.

Power play getting powerful

It wasn’t too long ago that the Thunderbirds power play was a struggle. It was getting to a point where you almost thought the team would have been better off declining any penalties that were called against the other team.

That has changed of late however and the team’s power play is on fire.

In the last eight games the T-Birds have scored on 14 of their 39 power-play chances which is a whopping 36-percent rate. They have climbed up to 13th in the league on the power play and are clicking at 20.4-percent overall this season.

The Regina Pats lead the league with a 32.5-percent power-play unit which says a lot about how good Seattle’s has been in the last eight games.

Big weekend ahead

With another tough weekend ahead of them, the question still remains about the Thunderbirds injury situation. They have had some of their injured players skating in practice but we’ll have to wait until Friday evening to see if the likes of Kolesar, Nolan Volcan or Matthew Wedman can get back into the lineup.

Friday the T-Birds will take on the Tri City Americans. Seattle dropped a 4-2 decision to Tri City last weekend in what was its first loss to the Americans all year. The Americans are trying to hold off the Portland Winterhawks for third place in the U.S. Division so they will be eager to earn two points on Friday. They are on a five-game win streak and are coming off of a 6-4 home win over the Winterhawks on Wednesday. Star winger, Michael Rasmussen, did not play on Wednesday due to injury and is listed as day-to-day on the WHL weekly report.

Saturday night the T-Birds will host the Kelowna Rockets at the ShoWare Center. Seattle has had problems with Kelowna this year and will be looking to salvage one game in the season’s four-game series. Kelowna has outscored Seattle 17-5 on the season, so the T-Birds have their work cut out for them. The Rockets currently sit third in the B.C. Division but are only six points off the top spot, so they’ll be on their game Saturday night.

The marquee match up of the weekend for Seattle is Sunday afternoon when they host the Everett Silvertips. Heading into the weekend, Seattle trails the Silvertips by one point for the top spot in the division but the Everett has two games in hand. Everett is coming off of a successful swing through the Eastern Conference that saw it go 5-1 – winning the last five. Sunday night will be a grind it out game as Silvertips’ goalie Carter Hart is playing some pretty strong hockey of late – giving up only six goals during the five-game win streak. Sunday’s game should have a playoff feel to is as it’s a four-point game that will have a big impact on the division race.