THUNDERBIRDS

T-Birds notebook: Island get away, coach fined and Uchacz debuts

Feb 5, 2019, 12:07 PM | Updated: 12:08 pm
The Thunderbirds head to Victoria for a pair of crucial games (Brian Liesse/T-Birds)...
The Thunderbirds head to Victoria for a pair of crucial games (Brian Liesse/T-Birds)
(Brian Liesse/T-Birds)

The Thunderbirds escaped the snow and icy weather in Seattle by heading to sunny Canada.

They arrived on Vancouver Island to no snow and sunny weather for a couple of midweek games against the Victoria Royals, starting Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s game will be just the second meeting between the two clubs this season. Seattle won the first game on Jan. 19th at the accesso Showare Center.

There hasn’t been any middle ground in the series between these two franchises. The Thunderbirds win in January snapped a four-game losing streak to the Royals after Victoria swept the season series a year ago. That sweep had reversed a nine-game win streak for Seattle in the series.

Was the first game the start of a new trend? We will find out Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Royals are in second place in the B.C. division with 53 points, trailing first place Vancouver by 16 points. Goalie Griffen Outhouse will most likely be in net and he has been a thorn in the Thunderbirds sides over the past couple of years. He’s been good, with a .916 save-percentage and a 2.63 goals-against average this season.

Power plays may be an adventure in this two-game stint as both clubs have struggled. Seattle comes into the games with the WHL’s 17th ranked power play but the Royals are dead last with just a 14-percent success rate.

Victoria has not lost a game in regulation over its last four but has only won three of its last eight while Seattle will look to erase the bad taste that the weekend losses to Everett left the team with.

Odette fined

Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette was not happy with the way Saturday’s loss to Everett was officiated. He doesn’t blame the loss on the referees but felt, strongly, that there were different standards applied to the two clubs.

After nine Everett power plays, compared to Seattle’s two, his frustration hit the boiling point with four seconds left in the game when a penalty had finally been called on the Silvertips. As evident in his post-game comments, he felt that call was too late in coming and was awarded a game misconduct for expressing that displeasure with the officials.

That misconduct, along with his comments to ESPN Seattle after the game, resulted in the WHL handing him a $750 fine.

Saturday night was the culmination of a frustrating weekend for O’Dette and the Thunderbirds and he was standing up for his players after not feeling that they were getting an equal shake from the officials.

Kai Uchacz makes debut

Seattle’s first round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft made his WHL debut in Friday’s game against the Everett Silvertips. Uchacz looked good  and is one more reason that the Thunderbirds are excited about the 2018 class. He didn’t record any points but did have some strong shifts and won three of the four faceoffs he took.

Earlier in the year, second-round picks Lucas Ciona and Conner Roulette got into games with the Thunderbirds. All three guys looked like they belonged in the WHL and didn’t wither under the pressure of playing against older players.

WHL rules don’t allow for them to play full time in the league until their ’16-year-old’ years next season. The three top picks are all having strong seasons with their current midget teams and the expectations are already high for their future with the Thunderbirds.

Playoff picture

Heading into Tuesday’s game, the Thunderbirds are one point behind the Kamloops Blazers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. They do have a game in hand however but getting points will remain a premium for the Thunderbirds moving forward.

Kamloops is idle until Friday, when they will host the B.C. Division first place Vancouver Giants. Prince George, who sits seven points behind Seattle, will be in action on Tuesday and Wednesday night against Vancouver.

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T-Birds notebook: Island get away, coach fined and Uchacz debuts