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A simmering rivalry ready to boil

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Seattle Sin Bin beat writer Curtis Frazier touches on the rivalry between the Everett Silvertips and the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Many sports teams have a “thing” – you know, like: Pittsburgh Steelers have terrible towels; Los Angeles Angels had the rally monkey; the Detroit Red Wings have the legendary octopus thrown on the ice (I really don’t want to know how you get that through security); and the Everett Silvertips have cowbells. Yes folks, that’s right, cow bells (I hope at least a few of you mentally asked for MORE COW BELL). Perhaps no other object gets under the skin of the Seattle Thunderbirds and their fan base more than this. Cowbells are almost universally detested around Showare Center, but they symbolize one of the great under the radar rivalries in the Seattle region.

The best rivalries in the area are easy if you think of the big fish in the proverbial Seattle pond; Seahawks-49ers, Mariners-Yankees, and if you remember the Seattle Supersonics, they had quite the rivalry with the Portland Trailblazers. If you dig a little deeper in to the sports community in Seattle you may stumble into the Thunderbirds and Silvertips. So what constitutes a true, bitter rival? The games between these two teams are always close, tight checking affairs. You can sense the frustration of the Seattle team as they try to break through the stiff defense and exceptional goaltending the Silvertips always seem to have. Maybe it is the fact that the games always keep you on the edge of your seat, it’s easy to see that this game means a little more too every guy on the ice and every fan at the game, it’s an emotional journey to be a part of.

Photo Credit
Brian Liesse / Seattle Thunderbirds

In order to understand why there may be some angst between the two franchises we have to examine the histories just a little bit. The Silvertips are a relatively young franchise, having only been in existence since the 2003-04 season. However, in those fifteen years they have arguably accomplished more than their neighbors to the south. First of all, they made it to the WHL final in their first season. Second, they have won the US division five times in that span. Lastly, they have held the upper hand in head-to-head match-ups with the Birds going 69-59-18.

Seattle on the other hand, has been around in some form or another since 1977, and has only won the US division three times. But, and it’s a big but, the best rivalries always shine in the playoffs and herein lies why this rivalry is so good right now. The tension between them simmered for ten long years before they would meet in a playoff series. With all the history to suggest the Tips would get the better of the Thunderbirds, it just hasn’t happened that way. Seattle has won all three playoff match-ups (2014, 2016, 2017) and while many of the games have been close, the series have not. Seattle has gone a combined 12-2 against the Tips including a sweep on the way to winning that elusive first ever WHL Championship. This is the stuff rivalries are made of.

Photo Credit
Brian Liesse / Seattle Thunderbirds

The cowbells are locked and loaded as the first place Everett Silvertips careen towards the playoffs, no doubt they’ll be looking for some revenge against their neighbors to the south. Players and coaches come and go, the thing that never changes within this rivalry is the animosity, and the cowbells.