First of all, we need to recognize the Cal Babych stick that ended the longest game in CHL history is bound for the Hockey Hall of Fame:
— james stucky (@jamesstucky) April 5, 2017
So here we are on the eve of Round 2. This is the series over which hockey fans in the greater Seattle area have been salivating since the regular season was in its infancy.
The interest is great enough that former Tips beat writer and Herald columnist Nick Patterson was on hand Thursday, while Seattle Times staffer Geoff Baker also stopped by.
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) April 6, 2017
It’s unfortunate that the WHL playoff structure means it happens now rather than the conference final, but as the adage goes, ‘you gotta play ‘em sometime.’
That was essentially Everett head coach Kevin Constantine’s perspective, and he elaborated on what this series means for the region when he met with the media Thursday:
“It’s OK to play Seattle (now) because I think it does mean something for the area,” he said. “There is a pretty good local youth hockey player playing for Seattle and there’s a pretty good (local) youth hockey player playing for Everett right now. All of this kind of hoopla creates an atmosphere that encourages people to be in hockey and now there (are) even youth hockey people coming through.”
Those local boys are Monroe native Luke Ormsby (Thunderbirds) and Everett-born Wyatte Wylie (Silvertips). The two are good friends and learned to skate together more than a decade ago at what was then Comcast Arena.
Both made history when they debuted last season. Ormsby was the first Snohomish County-born player to play in the WHL, while Wylie was the first Snohomish County-born player to be drafted, signed and play for the Tips.
Got all that? Good. Let’s move on.
Constantine has tremendous respect for the Thunderbirds.
“They’re always a big, strong, competitive team that mixes some talent in with it and makes it challenging,” he said. “So it’s been fun, it’s been competitive, it’s been challenging and I think you would anticipate the playoffs being similar.”
“The teams have been dead even during the regular season, but Seattle has been a better playoff team than us – that’s just the facts,” Constantine later added. “They’ve beaten us, and beaten us soundly in the last two playoff (series), so hopefully we can reverse that trend, but they’ve been a tough playoff team to play against.”
Seattle’s size and physicality makes it a team “built pretty well for the playoffs” as veteran Tips forward Matt Fonteyne told Patterson. The T-Birds are an older and bigger team than the Tips, and the preseason acquisition of overage goalie Rylan Toth and the midseason acquisitions of veteran defensemen Austin Strand and Aaron Hyman enhanced that.
In addition Seattle is one of just a handful of teams that can match Everett’s “compete level” (hockey parlance for drive, desire, tenacity, passion and a willingness to do your role to the best of your ability at maximum effort each shift).
Now for some additional reading and listening:
– I’ll be on 1380 KRKO-AM Friday around 4:30 p.m. along with T-Birds beat writer Andy Eide for a series roundtable preview as Tips color commentator Justin Morrison fills in for The Fish.
– You can also hear me on TSN 1040 Vancouver just before puck drop about 7:15 p.m. when I join Vancouver Giants broadcaster Brendan Batchelor for a preview of this series.
– Eide has this look at the series from the Seattle perspective.
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.