2023 Memorial Cup: 3 Takeaways From Seattle’s Win Over Blazers

In the battle of the Western Hockey League (WHL) teams, the Seattle Thunderbirds took care of business at the 2023 Memorial Cup, beating the host Kamloops Blazers 6-1. With the victory, Seattle clinches their spot in the semi-final, while Kamloops will have to play a tie-breaker game against the Peterborough Petes on June 1. Here are three takeaways from the game.

Thunderbirds Dominant Start to Finish

From the opening puck drop, the Thunderbirds were clearly the better team. They were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of time and didn’t allow the Blazers many second-chance opportunities. It was clear they had no intention of playing in the tie-breaker game and put up a dominating performance against their WHL counterparts.

Seattle Thunderbirds Celebrate
Seattle Thunderbirds Celebrate (Candice Ward/CHL)

This was by far Seattle’s best game of the tournament. They were strong on the forecheck, forced turnovers in the Blazers’ zone and did a great job taking away the neutral zone whenever Kamloops tried to break out the puck. During the game, they also outshot the Blazers in every period, finishing with 41 shots on goal compared to Kamloops’ 31. Seattle played a near-perfect game overall and will now be rewarded with a well-earned day off before the semi-final.

Seattle’s Power Play Finally Cashes In

One of the big talking points surrounding the Thunderbirds in the Memorial Cup has been their power play. While they weren’t the strongest on the man advantage throughout the season, going zero for four through their first two games in the tournament was very unexpected. That all changed against the Blazers as they finally cashed in on their second power play of the game, improving to one for six with the man advantage.

Related: 2023 Memorial Cup: 3 Takeaways From Petes’ Win Over Remparts

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At 6:39 of the second, Montreal Canadians’ Jared Davidson burst down the wing and beat Kamloops goaltender Dylan Ernst for his first of the tournament. It was no surprise that of all players he would score as he did lead the Thunderbirds in power-play goals during the regular season and finished tied for second on the team during the playoff run. The hope is now that they have scored with the man advantage, that will translate to more power play goals as the tournament continues.

Plenty of Bad Blood Between the Two Teams

From the opening puck drop, there was bad blood between these two teams. Whether it was small whacks on the pads while the players were skating up, pushing and shoving after the whistle, or chirping from the bench, players from both sides did everything they could to get under the skin of their opponents. It was a busy night for the linesmen during most stoppages; they were forced to separate the two teams as they tried to keep the game under control.

The fact that there was animosity between the two sides is not unexpected, as they did play each other sixth times during this year’s WHL Western Conference Final. What was surprising was to see Anaheim Ducks defenceman Olen Zellweger getting into shoving matches with Calgary Flames’ Lucas Ciona, as the Blazers defender isn’t the type of player often seen in post-whistle scrums. In the end, though, there were no fights and only two unsportsmanlike penalties given throughout the entire game, showing that while the players were fired up, they didn’t cross the line to the point they put their teams shorthanded.

Round Robin Comes to a Close

After an exciting six days that saw each team pocket at least one win, the round-robin has come to a close, and the single elimination part of the tournament begins. The Petes will take on the Blazers, with the winner then facing off in the semi-final against the Thunderbirds. The winner will then take on the Remparts in the championship game for a chance to etch their names into Memorial Cup history. Get ready for a jam-packed four days full of exciting games, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) awards ceremony, and, of course, the lifting of the 2023 Memorial Cup.

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