With four consecutive victories, the Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds have clinched a Western Hockey League playoff spot.
Seattle entered this week in fourth place in the Western Conference with a record of 34-14-4-1 for 73 points. The Everett Silvertips and Kamloops Blazers were tied for first with 80 points followed by the Portland Winterhawks with 77 points.
The Kelowna Rockets, only one point behind the T-Birds, also have clinched a playoff spot. Seattle still has a month left in the regular season with its final game April 15 prior to the start of the playoffs.
Nico Myatovic and Jared Davidson each scored twice to lead Seattle over the Tri-City Americans 6-2 on Sunday, March 6 for its fourth consecutive victory. The T-Birds also beat Kelowna 4-3 on March 1, Tri-City 3-1 on March 4 and Everett 4-3 on March 5.
“We’ll take that every time,” T-Birds coach Matt O’Dette said about getting six points over the weekend with three victories, according to a game report by Thom Beuning on seattlethunderbirds.com. “Credit to the guys for working hard all weekend long. Lots of good habits throughout the weekend and on to the next one.”
The T-Birds host Portland at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, March 11 at the accesso ShoWare Center. They also are home at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, March 12 against Everett and at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, March 15 against Tri-City.
Davidson has 27 goals to lead the T-Birds this season. He also has 40 assists to give him 67 points for the season, tied for 10th in the league, as of March 6.
“He’s playing great for us,” O’Dette said.
Davidson, 19, of Edmonton, Alberta, signed with the T-Birds in 2018 after a camp invite. No WHL team drafted Davidson in the 2017 Bantam Draft. He played in the Alberta Major Midget Hockey League in 2017-2018 and caught the attention of the T-Birds and Silvertips.
Seattle goalie Thomas Milic has a 22-12-2-1 record and a 2.47 goals against average. Scott Ratzlaff, the T-Birds backup goalie, has a 12-2-1-0 record and a 2.51 goals against average.
Attendance at T-Birds games continues to be much lower than previous seasons at the city-owned ShoWare Center in Kent. The Sunday game against Tri-City drew 3,170 fans.
Portland and Everett come to town this weekend and typically draw the largest crowds. A Dec. 17 game against Everett drew 4,535, the highest attendance so far this season.
During the 2019-2020 season, Seattle often drew crowds of more than 5,000 and a few times over 6,000 at the 6,200-seat arena. The WHL canceled that season in mid-March 2020 due to COVID-19.
T-Birds president Colin Campbell blamed the smaller crowds at the start of this season to a lack of group sales and the vaccination requirements by King County. He said season ticket sales were down by about 15% to 20%.
King County removed the proof of vaccination or negative test requirements on March 1. Face mask wearing is still required through Friday, March 11.
Campbell said attendance often picks up later in the season and during the playoffs, which means he will be watching the numbers closely this weekend with rivals Portland and Everett in town, and over the next couple of months depending on how far Seattle advances in the playoffs.
This also marks the first season the T-Birds have had to go up against the Seattle Kraken, the first year NHL team that played at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle and has almost all of its games televised.
The T-Birds played Everett in a WHL game Feb. 26 at Climate Pledge Arena that drew 8,381 fans.
Everett has drawn large crowds to the Angel of the Winds Arena, including 7,474 at its March 5 loss to the T-Birds and 5,573 when the Silvertips beat Seattle Jan. 30.
Ticket prices for T-Birds games at the ShoWare Center range from $20 to $48. Buy tickets at seattlethunderbirds.com.