The Official Photoblog of the Seattle Thunderbirds

2011/2012 Season Opener: New Beginnings and Familiar Faces

Welcome back to Bird Watching, T-Birds fans!  In case you’re new to Thunderbirds’ fandom, I’m team photographer Kyle Scholzen and I’ll be sharing some of my best and favorite shots from the season.  If you’re returning, welcome back!  I hope you enjoy this blog even more than you did last year.   As always, if you’ve got a question, comment, or suggestion for me, feel free to leave it in the comments section below!  I’d love to hear what I can do to make this blog better for you!

Last Saturday the 24th was the season opener for the Thunderbirds.  Throughout the offseason, the team underwent numerous changes, including new head and assistant coaches, numerous new faces on defense, and familiar faces of youngsters with the team full-time.  With all these changes, there was plenty of excitement around the ShoWare Center on Saturday, and that excitement was evident even before the game started.  Like last year’s opener, there were numerous activities set up in front of the arena set up for fans of all ages.  The older ones got to partake in a beer garden, while the younger ones enjoyed things like video games, free face painting…

Canon 7D, 640 ISO, 32mm, f/3.5, 1/250

and a couple of inflatable bouncy-toys.

Canon 7D, 640 ISO, 55mm, f/4.5, 1/50

After enjoying the festivities outside the ShoWare Center, it was time for everyone to head inside, warm up, and grab some concessions before the game started.

Canon 7D, 2500 ISO, 32mm, f/5, 1/60

Even though fans knew most of the new things about this year—Steve Konowalchuck had been announced as head coach in June and the roster was released the week before—there was one surprise waiting to be revealed: new jerseys!  On Saturday, the Thunderbirds debuted their new alternate jersey, a combination of darker blue trim and lighter blue base color, along with a secondary shield logo.

Defenseman Kyle Verdino styles the new jersey as he is introduced to the fans prior to the home opener.

Canon 7D, 2500 ISO, 105mm, f/2.8, 1/250

One of the players who got the loudest cheers was rightwinger Jacob Doty.  Something tells me we’ll be hearing more about Doty a little later on in this blog, but for now let’s see as he’s introduced before the game.

Canon 7D, 2500 ISO, 95mm, f/2.8, 1/500

After all the players were introduced came the inaugural puck drop.  Dropping the first puck that night was Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, a recent Medal of Honor recipient based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash.

SFC Petry (center) drops the puck for Seattle captain Luke Lockhart (right) and Portland captain Troy Rutkowski (left) to open the 2011-2012 season.

Canon 7D, 2500 ISO, 105mm, f/2.8, 1/250

To earn his Medal of Honor, SFC Petry attempted to throw a live grenade back at the enemy during a mission in Afghanistan in 2008 in order to save the lives of four of his squad-mates, some of them injured.  The grenade exploded immediately after Petry let go of it, severing his right hand, yet saving the lives of at least two of his fellow soldiers.

After a recovery time of several weeks, SFC Petry was given a state-of-the-art prosthetic hand.   Despite having a bionic hand, Petry did not leave service; he has since gone on tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan with his prosthetic.  Everyone at the Seattle Thunderbirds was honored that SFC Petry agreed to drop the puck on opening night, and I’m jealous of Luke Lockhart for getting to shake the man’s hand.

Canon 7D, 2500 ISO, 53mm, f/2.8, 1/250

Next up came the national anthem.  Kent resident Stefano Langone was selected to sing it on opening night.  You may remember Stefano from the recent season of American Idol where he made the top seven, and he proved his talents further with his wonderfully understated version of the national anthem…

Canon 7D, 2500 ISO, 60mm, f/2.8, 1/320

And while everyone in the arena was watching Stefano sing, I noticed that SFC Petry had snapped to attention, saluting the flag…

Canon 7D, 2500 ISO, 48mm, f/2.8, 1/320

After the opening ceremony, though, it was time to get the season underway.   In this first action photo of the year, left winger Mitch Elliot brings the puck down the ice into the Thunderbirds’ attacking end.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

Just over two and a half minutes in, Jacob Doty returned to his physical ways and found himself facing off with Portland’s Cody Castro after Doty had a particularly hard check on another Winterhawk.  Doty fulfilled his enforcer duties well, taking Castro to the ice and firing up the Thunderbirds and the fans after the fight.  ShoWare was rocking during Doty’s trip to the penalty box.  Here’s him in action with Castro…

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 160mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

And here’s Marcel Noebels skating up-ice with the puck…

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 110mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

Portland took 14 shots on goalie Calvin Pickard in the first period, and Pickard stopped all of them.  Luckily I was in a position to get some photos of him making those saves, like this one

Goalie Calvin Pickard stops a shot from Portland right winger Brad Ross.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 80mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

And this one, which is my favorite shot from the game (I always like it when I get big ice sprays in my photos)…

Pickard pokes the puck away from Portland right wing Ty Rattie before Rattie can put it on goal.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/1000

The first period ended 0-0.  The second period brought even more action, although unfortunately I wasn’t shooting much of it as I had to find photos from the pregame ceremony to put up on facebook.  That’s ok, though, as the third period had even more action than the three-goal period before it.

Marcel Noebels started his sophomore year in the WHL well Saturday, scoring once and getting named the game’s second star.  Unfortunately my view of his goal was blocked by a couple of players, so here’s a photo of him clearing a puck out of the Seattle defensive end in the third period.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 110mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

Left winger Chance Lund also scored in the third period, and fortunately I had a fairly unobstructed view of that play.  Here he is slipping the puck past Portland goalie Mac Carruth.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 90mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

Lund’s goal tied up the game two-all, and he seemed fairly excited for his first goal of the new season…

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 120mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

As said before, one of the new faces on the Thunderbirds wasn’t on the ice Saturday night, but behind the bench.  Saturday was Steve Konowalchuck’s first game as head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds and first WHL game since his own playing days, coincidentally with the Portland Winterhawks.   Here he is talking with assistant coach Jim McTaggart.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/800

Also back for one more season is right winger Burke Gallimore.  Gallimore is one of three overagers (a team in the WHL may only have three 20 year olds; defensemen Kyle Verdino and Cason Machacek are the other two players) and also one of the crowd favorites.  Here he is on the puck with Lockhart skating up in support.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

And speaking of Lockhart, here he is tussling with a familiar face around these parts, former Thunderbird and current Portland center Charles Wells.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 150mm, f/2.8, 1/1250


And to end today’s post, how about we use a staple here on Bird Watching, another Calvin Pickard save!

Pickard stops a shot from Portland center Chase De Leo in the third period.

Canon 7D, 1250 ISO, 160mm, f/2.8, 1/1250

The T-Birds hung tough with Portland for 50 minutes Saturday night before ultimately falling 6-3.  This Saturday they hope to return the favor when they head down I-5 and take on the Winterhawks in Portland at 7 pm.  Tune in to that, and also keep coming back here for more photos throughout the year.

It’s great to have hockey back, isn’t it?  Til next time, go T-Birds!

2 responses

  1. AAR

    Awesome pics, good coverage – nice job! Sorry that we’ll lose Verdino.

    September 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm

  2. Erica

    Great shots, as usual, Kyle! I especially like the one of Doty being introduced…makes him look so sinister!!! 🙂

    September 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm

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