Charles Wells and Colin Jacobs check in before practice
The Thunderbirds practice today was a pretty light one..at least in my eyes. Then again I didn’t have to skate down the ice and back and then down again for four straight minutes. The Birds will have to play four games in the next five days with the last three on the road, one in Kelowna and a pair in Prince George.
The team they play Tuesday night, the Medicine Hat Tigers, practiced just before the Birds session. It was also very light, maybe they didn’t want to give away any secrets. It’s no secret however that they have won seven straight and have 99 goals scored. If the Birds play defense the way they did against Kootenay, it will be a very long night. They must play better, much better. Linden Vey and Emerson Etem are two very dangerous players that need to be contained if the Birds want to avoid dropping to .500 at home. Watch out for Etem when the Tigers are on the PK.. he already has three short handed goals, the Tigers have seven.
Congratulations to Calvin Pickard, Marcel Noebels, and Dave Sutter. They are all headed east to their respective team camps for the World Juniors Tournament. Pickard will leave on December 10, Noebels on December 18. Not sure exactly when Sutter leaves just yet. This means that Michael Salmon will get some starts. Calvin will be gone for at least four games and possibly nine or ten if he makes the team. Someone will have to be called up to back up Salmon. Should be interesting to see how the team plays in front of Michael. I know they have total confidence in him and I think if he played more regularly he would be looked at as one of the best back up goalies in the league.
Before practice I sat down with Charles Wells and Colin Jacobs for a bit. Wells at 19 years old is in his fourth season with the Birds. Jacobs, 17 is in his sophomore season after playing in all 72 games last year.
On the Birds improvement over last season
We have to look at last year and learn from all of the mistakes. Last year was a learning experience for quite a few guys including myself. We have to put what we’ve learned into effect this season.
On the positives of playing in 72 games as a rookie
It helped me quite a bit because this league is tough. There are a lot of tough players. For sure the ice time last year has helped me this year.
On the chemistry he has with Mitch Elliot and Tyler Alos
We do a lot of things together on and off the ice. We like to play the game right, do all of the little things that are asked of us. Right now they have been working..for our lines sake.
On the success of the power play
I think it’s just hard work. Just moving the puck around, getting shots on net, working hard in the crease areas. Guys like Lockhart and Gallimore..working hard in the corners.
On his personal goals coming into the season
I try to stay away from that. Sometimes you fulfill those goals early and start slacking or maybe just the opposite. I just want to come in and do my best every day. Take it shift by shift. Sounds cliche but I think it works when you take it day by day.
One his off-season regiment
I had Monday-Friday workouts. Cardio and lifting weights. Basically camping out in the gym and doing legs and upper body. Also did some power skating.
On scoring more goals five on five
I think it’s that the guys work really hard in the corners five on four. On five on five we do it sometimes and when we do, it turns into chances. It’s an easy fix, we need to get pucks on net and out work the other teams.
On the very competitive Western Conference
At this point, every game matters. Any time we can beat teams in our conference it’s big. It we lose, things will turn the wrong way with it being so tight. We just have to take every game to heart and not take off any nights. It’s going to be exciting cause I feel we have a good team. When we get pucks on net and do the right things we can turn some heads. We’ve turned a few heads already. It’s gonna be a good second half coming up and we’re going to push for a high seed in the playoffs.
On coming into the season as a fourth year player
So far I’ve taken a big step towards a leadership role. We are still alternating guys with letters but we have lots of leaders in the room. I feel I’ve taken a step since last season in that category.
On his personal goals after a good season as an 18 year old
My personal goals was to be even better. It’s been a slow start but it’s a long season and there is lots of time to get going.
On what the team needs to do to become a more potent team offensively
We need to work harder in our own end which is where it starts. There have been little glimpses of how we played last year..immature. Hopefully we can get over that, we are preaching growing up. Our power play is doing well, we have to score more five on five. We have to hold pucks low, and get more shots, hit the net.
On how the success on the power play can translate to five on five success
Our power play was really good on the eastern swing because we were shooting the puck, we weren’t getting anything blocked. If we didn’t have a play we would throw it low and get back to work. Right now we’re straying off the plan, but the key is shooting pucks.
On all of the shots that Pickard has to face
They (other teams) know Calvin is the best goalie in the league and I’m sure they emphasize throwing it from anywhere and that’s exactly what they’re doing.
On getting in a groove early in the season with different lines
It’s kinda rough starting with new players but eventually you find chemistry over time. You have to bring what you yourself has and hopefully gel with other players.
On the pressure of scoring 30 plus goals this season
I put that pressure on myself. I try not to let it bother me. There is still lots of season left and room to make stuff happen out there.
On the grit of the team, the refusal to lose
We have a lot of character in our room. We know from last season how bad losing is and we don’t want to get on that track again. We have good leadership and that certainly helps. We don’t wanna lose at all.