T-Birds Ready for Postseason
KENT, Wash, – With six regulars out of the lineup and nothing on the line, the Seattle Thunderbirds fell to the Portland Winterhawks, 3-1, at the accesso ShoWare Center in the final game of the regular season. Despite the loss Seattle finished with the best single season in franchise history at 54-11-1-2. The Thunderbirds now prepare for the playoffs. They will meet the Kelowna Rockets in the first round. The series opens at the accesso ShoWare Center next Friday at 7:05 p.m.
Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette, while wanting to win the game, says his team still finished the right way. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the win,” he remarked. “We’re competitive even though there was not anything at stake for that game. But we’re moving on. We made it out healthy and were able to get some guys rested.”
Seattle’s lone goal came at 4:02 of the first period from Dylan Guenther, assisted by Sawyer Mynio. It was Guenther’s ninety-ninth goal in the WHL. Jared Davidson also entered the game needing one more goal to reach one hundred in his WHL career and Seattle spent a good amount of effort trying to get both players that milestone goal.
“Part of the disappointment for tonight was those two guys didn’t get their one hundredth goal. Two pretty good players with ninety-nine,” said O’Dette. “But those guys both will tell you the same thing though. They’d trade one hundred goals for a championship.”
Portland scored twice in the second period to tie and then take the lead, then added a late empty net goal to seal the win.
O’Dette says the attention now turns to the postseason and the first round series against Kelowna. “We’re ready for a week of preparation. Everything we’ve been playing for, going towards this year, is ahead of us. It’s an exciting time of the year.”
Two T-Birds prospects made their WHL debuts Saturday. Defenseman Kaleb Hartmann was a 2022 second round pick (37th overall) in the WHL Prospects Draft. Winger Nishan Parmar was taken in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. O’Dette said both played well.
“For their first games, they didn’t look out of place at all. They gave us really good minutes. Exciting futures ahead for both those players.”
Seattle gave regulars Kevin Korchinski, Jeremy Hanzel, Brad Lambert and Reid Schaefer the night off. Jordan Gustafson and Gracyn Sawchyn remain out of the lineup with injuries.
Hanzel finished the regular season with a plus/minus of +70, tops in the WHL and a franchise best.
Boxscore: WHL Network