Week 3 notes: Breakouts for Honey, Theodore
By Tim Pigulski
The T-Birds split again this weekend, dropping their first game to the stacked Kamloops Blazers 7-2 before coming back and defeating the Everett Silvertips 5-2 at the ShoWare Center.
Some notes on the T-Birds and from around the rest of the WHL:
• The team traded backup goalie Daniel Cotton to Everett for a conditional sixth-round draft pick in next year’s WHL Bantam Draft. Cotton hadn’t yet seen any playing time in Seattle this season, falling to third on the depth chart behind starter Brandon Glover and 17-year-old Justin Myles.
He’ll certainly see more ice time in Everett, where starter Austin Lotz is out with a groin injury and backup Cole Holowenko has struggled when given opportunities. Cotton’s first regular-season action came just hours after he was traded and he stopped all 14 Tri-City shots that he faced.
• Shea Theodore had the coming out part that everyone’s been expecting this past weekend. In two games he had four points on two goals and two assists. Both goals and one of the assists came on Saturday night against Everett, when Theodore put the team on his back to lead them to a come-from-behind victory.
On his first goal, Theodore made it look as though he was simply tired of trailing in the game. He gained control of the puck in the neutral zone, made a couple of nice moves, and then fired a shot past Lotz, who was playing very well to that point. He showcased his top-notch speed and agility on the individual effort, something that he’s becoming more apt to do.
Through six games the 17-year-old defenseman has six points, tying him for the team lead. His impressive skating ability is getting noticed more and more around the league and as he continues to perform he should work his way up the NHL Draft boards.
• Connor Honey was finally able to crack the score sheet this weekend, potting three goals and one assist, including the team’s only two scores against the Kamloops Blazers on Friday night. After missing significant time during training camp and the preseason, Honey was understandably a bit behind his teammates.
With top-line wing Branden Troock out during the weekend due to illness, Honey made the most of his opportunity and once again looks like he can be one of the team’s top offensive producers.
• A quick note on Troock: it’s not quite panic time yet for the talented forward who has had to spend considerable time out of the lineup over the past couple of seasons. Despite missing both games this weekend, his illness is not considered serious and he should be back in the lineup soon.
• Russian import Alexander Delnov has five points in four games and seems to make an impact every time he steps on the ice. After missing both games in Prince George last weekend due to visa issues, it appears that everything has been cleared up and he should be with the team for the remainder of the season. His presence was certainly missed in those games, especially on the forecheck and in the corners — two places where Delnov excels.
• 16-year-old Michal Holub made a name for himself this weekend, creating a couple of nice opportunities that probably should have resulted in his first career WHL point. In one instance, he carried the puck up the left wing and fired a shot that was stopped by Lotz, but sat in the crease for a second or two before being cleared. He also dropped the mitts with Everett’s Ben Betker, who stands about four inches taller than him. It appears as though he’s earned himself a spot on the fourth line, and should develop into a good power forward.
• Although it’s early, it looks like Kamloops could unseat Portland atop the Western Conference. So far they’ve earned a point in every game they’ve played in and just regained the services of Brendan Ranford, a 20-year-old who scored 92 points last season. Ranford was unable to crack the lineup of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, but he could score triple digits in Kamloops this season.
The Blazers are a very deep team with a number of established WHL players in Ranford, Colin Smith, Tim Bozon, and J.C. Lipon, among others. They also feature one of the league’s best goalies in Cole Cheveldave.
• In the East, the Calgary Hitmen have picked up points in every game they’ve played in as well, including two victories over conference powerhouse Edmonton. Their lineup isn’t exactly filled with superstars, but general manager Kelly Kislo appears to have assembled a roster that works in head coach Mike Williamson’s system. Look out for Calgary to stick around the top of their tough division and go deep in the playoffs.
• The CHL may need to rethink allowing the Memorial Cup host team automatic entry into the year’s final round-robin tournament. This year’s hosts are the Saskatoon Blades, who are currently in last place in their division and have been outscored 35-17 in seven games, including an embarrassing 10-1 loss at the hands of the Swift Current Broncos on Friday night. It’s safe to say that of all of the teams in the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL, there would be a number who would be more competitive than the Blades in the quest for the Cup.