Nate Pearsall, Staff Writer
It’s come down to that time of the year where there are not many sporting events happening outside of our campus. But what if there was an opportunity to experience a hockey game for $30 without having to drive all the way up north to Vancouver, B.C.?
This opportunity exists in Kent with the Seattle Thunderbirds, a major junior hockey team that is in the Western Conference of the expanding Western Hockey League (WHL).
The WHL was founded in 1966, and consists of 22 teams; 17 in Canada and five here in the States. The idea of the WHL is to offer an opportunity for young players to play semi-professional hockey. Each team is made up of players from 15-19 years old, and can hold three positions with players over 20. These players have either chosen to play collegiate hockey in Canada at the same time as their WHL experience or have chosen to burn a part of their NCAA eligibility to play in the United States at a young age right out of high school.
Hockey mixes many things onto the ice. It brings the fierce, competitiveness nature that so many feel in sport, and it adds a touch of finesse. For example, it’s not everyday you see a 6’9”, 255 pound man skate by at high speeds, expecting a pass for a one timer shot, but, Zdeno Chára of the Boston Bruins does that almost every game in the NHL.
While there are no Chára comparisons at the WHL level, there are still talented teenagers and low-20’s players who aspire to make it to the next level, and the Seattle Thunderbirds are a team filled with talent. Watching their development and maturity in such competitive games at a young age helps to make these games enjoyable.
Fresh off a 2016-17 WHL Championship, the Thunderbirds, who play their home games at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, are off to a slow start in the 2018-19 season. While they may not be the WHL’s top team, that shouldn’t stop anyone from going and checking out some of the hottest hockey in the Pacific Northwest.
Hockey games at the ShoWare Center sell out at 6,500 people. This small, yet intimate venue draws a loud and supportive group for the Thunderbirds and could become one of your favorite places to visit this upcoming winter and spring for some cheap entertainment.
The WHL regular season ends up in March 2019 with the playoffs beginning right after.