The biggest surprise over the weekend may not have been in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, I would argue, it came in Kelowna British Columbia where the Seattlle Thunderbirds took the first two games of their best of seven series with the Kelowna Rockets. The T-Birds are the seventh seed in the Western Conference, a team that finished 14 games under .500, and a whopping 50 points behind Kelowna in the regular season standings. As a point of reference for the neophyte hockey fan, 50 points is the equivalent of 25 games behind. In other words, this team had no business winning two games on the road against THAT team, yet they did.
Why? Well for one, no sport more so than hockey is about character and effort. The Thunderbirds have great leadership from their 20 year old captain Luke Lockhart and some other terrific leadership in that room. In addition, their Head Coach, Steve Konowalchuck, was a true “character’ player during his long NHL career. Add that all together, and the fact that Kelowna played like Gonzaga in terms of not dealing with being a favorite too well, and the Thunderbirds are up two games to none.
Now the next step is to keep control of the series on home ice. Games three and four are at the ShoWare Center Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Tuesday is a 2-1 night at ShoWare with two for one tickets, and two dollar beers and food.
I caught up with Coach K (Seattle’s version) and got an in-depth look at the first two games and a preview of the next two.