It’s a busy day in Seattle. The Stage is Set for the 20th Annual Hockey Challenge at ShoWare Center which will be capped off with a rivalry match-up between the Everett Silvertips and the Seattle Thunderbirds. Puck drop is scheduled for an early start time of 6:05 pm.
While the Thunderbirds are leading the season series with four wins to Everetts two, it’s a stat line that fails to paint the entire picture. Two of their last three match-ups have required overtime while the third went to a shootout. In fact, neither team has won by more than two goals in the six games played so far this year.
Everett may have a jump in the league standings, but when it comes to these two teams — anything can happen.
When asked about their recent play, Silvertips center Garrett Pilon told us that their 5-on-5 work ethic needed to see improvement before they take the ice against Seattle.
“I think the work ethic wasn’t there the full 60 minutes. That’s something we have to bring against Seattle as they have been close games the past three times we have played them.”
A statement of respect for a very skilled Seattle squad who is looking to rebound after losing their last three straight. With that said, no rivalry can be true without a little fire both on and off the ice.
“We need to go out there and play our game,” continued Pilon. “and not maybe go down to their level.”
In a game which took place on February 16th, Sean Richards of the Silvertips laid a big hit on Seattle’s Jarret Tyszka. The result was a full line brawl as tensions boiled over between the two teams.
While Richards received a five minute major and a game misconduct from the officials, the league would eventually decide on a four game suspension.
Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette wasn’t thrilled with the officiating — a sign that this rivalry extends beyond the players.
“We lost all our guys that were on the ice and somehow Bajkov and Fonteyne, two of their best players, manage to stay on the ice,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette told us following the game. “Ridiculous. The officials lost the handle on that sequence. They had no idea what was going on.”
Both teams always seem to have a little extra energy when they face-off.
“Going to play Seattle when I was with Kamloops, they are a different team when they play Everett,” said Pilon. “It’s the challenge that we have to go in there and get a big win.”
I had the opportunity to speak with a few fans from both sides of the isle and it’s obvious that they expect nothing short of fireworks.
Sharon Harper-Peck, a self described hockey mom, with no kids that actually play, is not only an avid Silvertips's fan — but a hockey fan in general.
“There is always a playoff atmosphere when these two teams face off. Fans lean in a little more, every goal celebration is a little louder. The boys on the ice have an edge to their game. The atmosphere is electric.”
Chad Hodge, a proud Thunderbirds supporter, expects the same.
“I expect a physical, entertaining, low scoring affair where goals are earned and nothing is just given.”
You can expect the ShoWare Center to hit max capacity in what will surely be an eventful night. Hockey fans in Washington don’t have to wait until 2020 to experience great play — it’s already here.
Tickets are still available at the ShoWare Center Box Office and online at the Silvertip’s website.