Seattle Thunderbirds
Seattle Thunderbirds logo.svg
CityKent, Washington
LeagueWestern Hockey League
ConferenceWestern
DivisionU.S.
Founded1971
Home arenaaccesso ShoWare Center
ColorsNavy blue, green, white
     
General managerBill Laforge
Head coachMatt O'Dette
Websitewww.SeattleThunderbirds.com
Franchise history
1971–1973Vancouver Nats
1973–1977Kamloops Chiefs
1977–1985Seattle Breakers
1985–presentSeattle Thunderbirds
Championships
Playoff championshipsEd Chynoweth Cup
1 (2017)

The Seattle Thunderbirds are a major junior ice hockey team based in the city of Kent, Washington, south of Seattle. They are part of the U.S. Division of the Western Conference in the Western Hockey League. They play their games at home in accesso ShoWare Center.

History

The team was founded in 1971 as the Vancouver Nats of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) but moved to Kamloops, British Columbia, to become the Kamloops Chiefs in 1973.

In 1977 the team moved to Seattle and was renamed the Seattle Breakers. The Breakers played in the Seattle Center Ice Arena, which had a seating capacity of 4,141 for ice hockey. Through eight seasons, the Breakers finished with a regular season record of 225 wins, 319 losses, and 32 ties; and playoff record of 11 wins and 21 losses, although they twice played in the West Division Finals.[1]

Modern era

In 1982 the Breakers acquired future NHL great Ken Daneyko from the Spokane Chiefs. They made the playoffs and lost in the Divisional final.

After the 1984–85 season, the Breakers were sold to new owners and renamed the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The 1986–87 season saw the addition of Glen Goodall, who would remain with the team through 1990. Goodall would go on to set the Western Hockey League career records for most games played (399), goals scored (262), assists (311) and points (573).[2] He is still the Thunderbirds leader in goals, assists and points.[3] His jersey, number 10, is the only one to be retired by the Thunderbirds.

The 1989–90 season was the best regular season in Thunderbird history, and arguably the greatest team the franchise has ever iced. Seattle finished the season at 52–17–3, which included a 44–8–3 record in their final 55 and the #1 ranking in the final Canadian Hockey League Regular Season Top Ten poll. The team finished 33–2–1 at home tying a WHL record for most home wins. Goodall won the Most Valuable Player award finishing with 76 goals and 87 assists for 163 points, and Petr Nedvěd won Rookie of the Year. Seattle placed three scorers in the top six in the league: Goodall was second with 163 points, Victor Gervais third with 160 points and Nedved sixth with 145 points. Peter Kasowski came over in a trade from Swift Current and finished 13th with 129 points. Goaltender Danny Lorenz finished his career with a WHL record most career saves and minutes played. The team was so popular that they began to play many home games in the Seattle Center Coliseum, which could seat almost 12,000 for hockey and was frequently sold out. The T-Birds defeated the Tri-City Americans 5 games to 2 in the division semifinals, before losing to the eventual Western Hockey League champion Kamloops Blazers 5 games to 1 in the division finals.

In 1992, the Thunderbirds hosted the Canadian Hockey League championship, the Memorial Cup. In the opening game, the T-Birds beat Verdun Collège Français 5–3, thanks to a hat trick by George Zajankala. After losses to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-3 and Kamloops 3–1, they finished third in the round-robin and faced eventual champions Kamloops again in the semifinal by an 8–3 score.

The 1996–97 team, led by Patrick Marleau, finished the season with a record of 41–27–4. They won the Western Conference by beating the Prince George Cougars 4 games to 2. Seattle was beaten by Lethbridge 4 games to 0 in the WHL championship series.

The 2002–03 season saw the team advance to the conference finals on the back of Brooks Laich, who was named the Western Conference MVP with 41 goals and 94 points. After convincing wins in the early rounds of the playoffs, the Thunderbirds lost to the Kelowna Rockets four games to one.

The 2015–16 season was a breakout season for the Thunderbirds, and was one of the most successful seasons in franchise history. During the season, the Thunderbirds clinched the U.S. Division after a 4–1 win over the Spokane Chiefs on March 15. This was Seattle's third division championship in team history and first since the 2004–05 season. Seattle also finished the regular season with the second most wins in team history (45).[4] In the quarterfinal round of the 2015-2016 WHL Playoffs, the Thunderbirds swept the Prince George Cougars, 4 games to 0, and advanced to the semifinal round against the Everett Silvertips, where the Thunderbirds dominated the Silvertips, winning the series 4 games to 1. With the win, they advanced to the Western Conference Finals against the Kelowna Rockets, the defending WHL Champions. Once again, the Thunderbirds continued their dominant playoff run, as they swept the series against the Rockets, 4 games to 0. The series-clinching win came in a double-overtime thriller as rookie Matt Wedman scored the game-winning goal halfway through the second overtime to give the Thunderbirds the 5–4 overtime victory, clinching the Western Conference championship. With the win, the Thunderbirds advanced to the WHL Championship for the first time since 1996–97. The Thunderbirds faced the Brandon Wheat Kings in the league final and lost the series 4–1.[1][2] The finals with Brandon was much closer than the end result, as the first three games were decided in overtime and all three ending with Wheat King victories.

The Thunderbirds did not have to wait long for their next shot at a league championship. Although they did not repeat as division champions the following season, Seattle finished the regular season with the second most wins in team history (46), topping their record from the previous season. In the quarterfinal round of the 2016-2017 WHL playoffs, the Thunderbirds swept the Tri-City Americans, 4 games to 0, and advanced to the semifinal round for a rematch with Everett. The Thunderbirds continued their postseason domination of the Silvertips, sweeping the series 4 games to 0 to advance to the Western Conference Finals and yet another rematch with Kelowna. Although this series did not end in a sweep in Seattle's favor like the previous year, the Thunderbirds still prevailed over the Rockets, 4 games to 2. With the win, the Thunderbirds advanced to the WHL Championship for the second straight year, this time against the Regina Pats. Unlike their previous two league final appearances, the Thunderbirds broke through and won their first-ever league championship, taking the series 4–2. The series-clinching win in Game 6 at the Brandt Centre came in an overtime thriller after the Thunderbirds rallied from a late two-goal deficit to force overtime with 2:54 remaining in the third period. Alexander True scored the game-winning goal midway through the first overtime period to give the Thunderbirds the 4–3 victory, clinching the Championship and sending the team to their second Memorial Cup appearance in team history and first as WHL champions.[3]

Arenas

The Thunderbirds originally played at Mercer Arena, then split time between Mercer Arena and the Seattle Center Coliseum beginning in the 1989–90 season. When the Coliseum was renovated into KeyArena, the Thunderbirds returned, but KeyArena's post-renovation configuration was designed for basketball and featured an off-center ice sheet. Many seats in the lower level were obstructed, leading to much of the lower level being curtained off.

Due to growing fan and team dissatisfaction with KeyArena, in 2009, the Thunderbirds moved to ShoWare Center, 20 miles south in Kent, where they became the anchor tenant.[4] The Thunderbirds have a large fan base, and continually draw some of the highest attendance numbers in the WHL on a yearly basis at the ShoWare Center.

Logo and uniforms

The team's logo depicts a Native American carving of a thunderbird with the word "Seattle" etched into it, framed by two hockey sticks. It is similar to the logo and colors of the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League.

Their uniforms are very similar to those of the Hartford Whalers from 1992 to 1997.

Season-by-season record

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties OTL = Overtime losses Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Season GP W L T OTL GF GA Points Finish Playoffs
1977–78 72 32 28 12 359 316 76 4th West Did not Qualify for Playoffs
1978–79 72 21 40 11 299 334 53 4th West Did not Qualify for Playoffs
1979–80 72 29 41 2 297 364 60 3rd West Lost West Division final - Defeated by Victoria Cougars (WHL) 4-0
1980–81 72 26 46 0 318 393 52 3rd West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated byPortland Winterhawks 4-0
1981–82 72 36 34 2 339 310 74 3rd West Lost West Division final - Defeated by Portland Winterhawks 4-2
1982–83 72 24 47 1 319 418 49 4th West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Portland Winterhawks 4-0
1983–84 72 32 39 1 350 379 65 4th West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Kamloops Blazers 5-0
1984–85 72 25 44 3 320 416 53 5th West Did not Qualify for Playoffs
1985–86 72 27 43 2 373 413 56 4th West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Kamloops Blazers 5-0
1986–87 72 21 47 4 328 430 46 5th West Did not Qualify for Playoffs
1987–88 72 25 46 2 313 436 52 5th West Did not Qualify for Playoffs
1988–89 72 33 35 4 315 276 70 5th West Did not Qualify for Playoffs
1989–90 72 52 17 3 444 295 107 2nd West Lost West Division final - Defeated by Kamloops Blazers 5-1
1990–91 72 42 26 4 319 317 88 3rd West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Spokane Chiefs 5-1
1991–92 72 33 34 5 292 285 71 4th West Lost West Division final - Defeated by Kamloops Blazers 4-2
1992–93 72 31 38 3 234 292 65 4th West Lost West Division quarter-final - Defeated by Kamloops Blazers 4-1
1993–94 72 32 37 3 283 312 67 4th West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Kamloops Blazers 4-2
1994–95 72 42 28 2 319 282 86 3rd West Eliminated in round-robin - Eliminated in round-robin 0-4
1995–96 72 29 36 7 255 281 65 5th West Lost West Division quarter-final - Defeated by Kamloops Blazers 4-1
1996–97 72 41 27 4 311 249 86 2nd West Lost Final - Defeated by Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-0
1997–98 72 31 35 6 286 278 68 6th West Lost West Division quarter-final - Defeated by Portland Winterhawks 4-1
1998–99 72 37 24 11 279 236 85 3rd West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Tri-City Americans 3-1
1999–00 72 34 27 8 3 250 221 79 3rd West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Prince George Cougars 3-0
2000–01 72 30 33 8 1 262 299 69 6th West Lost West Division semi-final - Defeated by Spokane Chiefs 3-0
2001–02 72 21 40 6 5 235 313 53 4th U.S. Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Kootenay Ice 4-0
2002–03 72 44 22 3 3 280 224 94 1st U.S. Lost Western Conference final - Defeated by Kelowna Rockets 4-1
2003–04 72 24 31 8 9 192 198 65 5th U.S. Did not Qualify for Playoffs
2004–05 72 43 24 2 3 204 144 91 1st U.S. Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Kelowna Rockets 4-3
2005–06 72 35 31 1 5 186 211 76 2nd U.S. Lost Western Conference quarter-final - Defeated by Portland Winterhawks 4-3
2006–07 72 37 21 3 11 209 186 88 3rd U.S. Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Vancouver Giants 4-1
2007–08 72 42 23 5 2 241 179 91 3rd U.S. Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Tri-City Americans 4-1
2008–09 72 35 32 1 4 222 234 75 3rd U.S. Lost Western Conference quarter-final - Defeated by Spokane Chiefs 4-1
2009–10 72 19 41 7 5 172 255 50 5th U.S. Did not Qualify for Playoffs
2010–11 72 29 37 3 3 219 285 64 5th U.S. Did not Qualify for Playoffs
2011–12 72 25 45 1 1 173 292 52 5th U.S. Did not Qualify for Playoffs
2012–13 72 24 38 7 3 210 286 58 4th U.S. Lost Western Conference quarter-final - Defeated by Kelowna Rockets 4-3
2013–14 72 41 25 2 4 238 249 88 2nd U.S. Lost Western Conference semi-final - Defeated by Kelowna Rockets 4-0
2014–15 72 38 25 4 5 218 201 85 3rd U.S. Lost Western Conference quarter-final - Defeated by Portland Winterhawks 4-2
2015–16 72 45 23 4 0 228 186 94 1st U.S. Lost Final - Defeated by Brandon Wheat Kings 4-1
2016–17 72 46 20 4 2 253 206 98 2nd U.S. Won Ed Chynoweth Cup over Regina Pats 4-2
2017–18 72 34 28 8 2 250 258 78 5th U.S. Lost Western Conference Quarter-final - Defeated by Everett Silvertips 4-1
2018–19 68 31 29 6 2 231 245 70 5th U.S. Lost Western Conference Quarter-final - Defeated by Vancouver Giants 4-2
2019–20 63 24 32 4 3 175 240 55 4th U.S. Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2020–21 23 10 12 0 1 67 82 21 3rd U.S. Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021–22 68 44 18 4 2 271 179 94 3rd U.S. Lost Final - Defeated by Edmonton Oil Kings 2-4

WHL championship history

Current roster

Updated July 8, 2022.[5]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Drafted
6 Canada Tyrel Bauer (C) D R 20 2017 Cochrane, Alberta 2020, 164th Overall, WPG
47 Canada Lucas Ciona (A) LW L 19 2018 Edmonton, Alberta 2021, 173rd Overall, CGY
29 Canada Jared Davidson C L 20 2018 Edmonton, Alberta 2022, 130th Overall, MTL
7 Canada Jordan Gustafson C L 18 2019 Ardrossan, Alberta 2022, 79th Overall, VGK
4 Canada Jeremy Hanzel D L 19 2019 Coquitlam, British Columbia Undrafted
20 Slovakia Samuel Kňažko D L 19 2020 Trencin, Slovakia 2020, 78th Overall, CBJ
14 Canada Kevin Korchinski D L 18 2019 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 2022, 7th Overall, CHI
Canada Easton Kovacs D L 17 2022 Delta, British Columbia Eligible 2023
44 Canada Chase Lacombe D L 20 2021 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Undrafted
11 United States Gabe Ludwig C L 18 2019 Eagle River, Alaska Undrafted
35 Canada Thomas Milic G L 19 2018 New Westminster, British Columbia Undrafted
26 Canada Nico Myatovic C L 17 2019 Prince George, British Columbia Eligible 2023
43 Canada Sawyer Mynio D L 17 2020 Kamloops, British Columbia Eligible 2023
5 England Leon Okonkwo Prada D R 19 2021 Colchester, Great Britain Undrafted
19 Canada Sam Oremba C L 17 2020 Regina, Saskatchewan Eligible 2023
18 Canada Sam Popowich C R 19 2018 Camrose, Alberta Undrafted
33 Canada Scott Ratzlaff G L 17 2020 Irma, Alberta Eligible 2023
32 Canada Matthew Rempe (A) C R 20 2018 Calgary, Alberta 2020, 165th Overall, NYR
34 Canada Conner Roulette LW L 19 2018 Winnipeg, Manitoba 2021, 111th Overall, DAL
15 United States Mekai Sanders RW R 19 2018 Gig Harbor, Washington Undrafted
24 Canada Reid Schaefer LW L 18 2018 Spruce Grove, Alberta 2022, 32nd Overall, EDM

Team records

Team records for a single season
Statistic Total Season
Most points 107 1989–90
Most wins 52 1989–90
Most goals for 444 1989–90
Fewest goals for 172 2009–10
Fewest goals against 144 2004–05
Most goals against 436 1987–88
Individual player records for a single season
Statistic Player Total Season
Most goals Glen Goodall 76 1989–90
Most assists Victor Gervais 96 1989–90
Most points Glen Goodall 163 1989–90
Most points (rookie) Petr Nedved 145 1989–90
Most points (defenseman) Craig Channell 88 1981–82
Most penalty minutes Mitch Wilson 436 1981–82
Most shutouts (goalie) Bryan Bridges 13 2004–05
Best GAA (goalie) Bryan Bridges 1.79 2004–05
Goalies = minimum 1500 minutes played

Career records

NHL alumni

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Several National Hockey League players started with the Thunderbirds:

See also

References

  1. ^ "Brandon Takes Game 5 To Win WHL Championship – Seattle Thunderbirds".
  2. ^ "Seattle Thunderbirds sweep Kelowna with double-overtime victory, advance to WHL finals | The Seattle Times". Archived from the original on 2016-04-29.
  3. ^ "Seattle Thunderbirds beat Regina in OT to take WHL title | The Seattle Times". Archived from the original on 2017-05-15.
  4. ^ http://www.showarecenter.com/venue/venue_overview
  5. ^ WHL Network, Western Hockey League, retrieved 2022-07-08