The Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds’ Kazden Mathies takes a shot against Portland’s Jan Spunar on Sunday, March 17 at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

The Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds’ Kazden Mathies takes a shot against Portland’s Jan Spunar on Sunday, March 17 at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

Kent-based T-Birds fail to make WHL playoffs for first time since 2012

Seattle drops Portland on St. Patrick’s Day but playoff streak ends at 11 years

Just one year after coming within a victory of winning its first Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup, the Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds failed to make the playoffs in 2024 for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.

The T-Birds grabbed a 5-4 victory in overtime against the Portland Winterhawks in front of 6,343 fans on Sunday, March 17 in a special appearance at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. But a Spokane Chiefs win on Saturday, March 16 already had eliminated Seattle from one of the eight playoff berths out of the Western Conference of the Western Hockey League (WHL).

Seattle enters its final four games this week in ninth place with 52 points, 12 behind eight-place Spokane. The Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers are the only teams lower in the standings than the T-Birds.

Last season, the Quebec Remparts dominated the T-Birds 5-0 to capture the Memorial Cup on June 4, 2023 at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Seattle accomplished a ton during the 2022-2023 season. The T-Birds set a franchise record 54 wins in the regular season. They won the U.S. Division of the WHL and took the WHL championship to advance to the Memorial Cup for only the third time. They had never played for the Memorial Cup title, which determines the top team among the 60 CHL clubs.

Despite losing numerous top players, some too old to still play in the league for those ages 16-20 and others heading off to the NHL, the T-Birds were confident they could be a playoff contender again.

The rest of the league, however, pulled away from Seattle. The teams heading into the playoffs are the Prince George (B.C.) Cougars, Portland Winterhawks, Everett Silvertips, Wenatchee Wild, Vancouver (B.C.) Giants, Kelowna (B.C.) Rockets, Victoria (B.C.) Royals and Spokane Chiefs.

Seattle plays Kamloops on Tuesday and Spokane on Friday at the accesso ShoWare Center, travels to Portland on Saturday and finishes the season back at home Sunday, March 24 against Portland.

The T-Birds failed to make the playoffs their first three years in Kent, taking ninth in 2009-2010, 10th in 2010-2011 and ninth in 2011-2012. They made the playoffs in their final season in Seattle in 2008-2009.

St. Patrick’s Day win

Sawyer Mynio scored in overtime as the T-Birds came back to beat the Portland Winterhawks 5-4 at Climate Pledge Arena for their second consecutive victory.

“Obviously it was a big goal, a game winner,” said Mynio of his fifth game-winning goal this season. “We stuck with it. Going down there into the third wasn’t ideal but that’s what we do, stay with it and grind that one out.”

Head coach Matt O’Dette agreed.

“It was good resiliency from the guys,” he said. “The first 40 minutes wasn’t great for us, but the third period started out the right way for us. We finally got a power play opportunity, and we cashed in. That gave us some life.”

After Seattle killed off the Winterhawks overtime power play, Nico Myatovic got possession of the puck inside the T-Birds blue line and skated up ice into the Portland zone. He waited for Mynio to come off the bench and passed him the puck. Mynio skated into the slot and unleashed the game-winning shot.

Scott Ratzlaff made 52 saves, including five in overtime, to earn the win in net.

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