Kraken Club Close
The Seattle Kraken’s AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley, California can take a big step Monday night as the franchise seeks a trip to the Calder Cup final in its first season of existence. The Firebirds lead the Milwaukee Admirals 3-games-to-2 with Game-6 of the western conference final tonight on home ice at the Acrisure Arena where the ‘Birds won Games 1 and 2.
Coachella Valley players clog the top of the Calder Cup playoff scoring list because the Firebirds have played more games than anyone else. Each of their preceding three series have gone the maximum number of games and they’re one loss away from seeing it happen again.
The Kraken farm team beat the Tucson Roadrunners in three games in Round-1, the Colorado Eagles in five games in the Pacific Division semi-finals, and the Calgary Wranglers in five games in the division final. A win Monday night means avoiding a Game-7 in the conference final.
The Seattle Thunderbirds came away disappointed on Sunday in Kamloops, BC, losing 5-0 in the Memorial Cup final to the Quebec Remparts.
The T-Birds had the worst power play of the four clubs in the tournament at 11.1% entering the final day, but it didn’t really play a part in the result. Seattle only saw two power play opportunities all game long while giving up six of them. The Remparts scored once with the man advantage. The top ranked penalty kill of Seattle mostly took care of business against a very good Quebec PP, the problem was the number of times they paraded to the box. Five-on-five flow and momentum never occurred for the T-Birds.
The always key twin to special teams is goaltending and entering the championship match Seattle fans had all the confidence in the world in tournament leader Thomas Milic and his leading 1.76 goals against average and .934 save percentage. The only problem; the number of odd-man rushes and Grade-A chances for the Remparts were overwhelming.
One reporter suggested that it appeared Milic ran out of steam after the third Quebec goal and wondered if losing out on the CHL Goaltender of the Year award the day before affected his confidence. Hard to come to that conclusion considering the number of great saves he was forced to make in the game. It’s possible he lulled a bit once everyone knew in their minds the game was out of hand.
The Alberta Thunderbirds: Of the 25 players on the Seattle roster, 16 of them hail from the province of Alberta, including two NHL 1st-rounders in Reid Schaefer (Edmonton OIlers, 2022) and Dylan Guenther (Arizona, 2021). The club’s two other 1st-round NHL Draft selections are from Saskatchewan, Nolan Allan (Chicago Blackhawks 2021) and Kevin Korchinski (Chicago, 2022).
Host With The Most
Kamloops Blazers co-owner, Hockey Hall of Famer (2017), and three time Stanley Cup Champion Mark Recchi can be proud of the folks in his hometown in how they handled the Memorial Cup. Hundreds of volunteers made sure fans and media were taken care of at every turn.
In recognition and appreciation for their efforts, the Blazers ownership planned to have a large gathering and feast on Monday for everyone involved.
Recchi spends much of his summer in the central British Columbia city on the banks of the Thompson River while living in Pittsburgh much of the hockey season. He won his first Stanley Cup as a player with the Penguins in 1991 before enjoying the feat twice more, 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes and 2011 with the Boston Bruins. Recchi was also involved with the Penguins 2016 and 2017 championships as a member of the player development staff.
Seattle Fan Gallery
Just a few of the dozens of devoted Thunderbirds fans we ran into in Kamloops …