Well, folks, we’ve come to the end of the line for the Blue Jackets 2016-17 season. 2015 3rd round pick Keegan Kolesar was the last man standing for the organization as his team headed to play for the Memorial Cup. Sadly, however, this will be a quick recap. So without further ado let’s get to our final prospect recap of the season.
Keegan Kolesar-Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL Champions)
Memorial Cup Stats 3GP 1-0-1 -5 2PIM
Just days after winning the WHL Championship and earning the Ed Chynoweth Cup, the TBirds loaded up the plane and were off to Windsor, Ontario and the WFCU Centre, site of the 2017 Memorial Cup.
In the team’s first game, Keegan was held without a point in the team’s 4-2 loss to OHL Champion Erie.
The next day, the Thunderbirds faced off against the host team, the Windsor Spitfires. The game didn’t start well for the Thunderbirds. The Spitfires took a 3-0 lead before Seattle finally got on the board. Late in the second, Mathew Barzal found Turner Ottenbreit at the point and he fired a blast that was stopped. But Keegan was there at the doorstep and he put the rebound past Windsor’s Micheal DiPietro to make it 3-1 Windsor. The goal made Keegan the first CBJ prospect to score in the Cup tournament since Kerby Rychel in the 2014 edition. The rest of the game was all Spitfires and the Thunderbirds lost by a score of 7-1.
The next day was a day off for the TBirds and they watched their next opponent take part in a record breaking game. Saint John lost 12-5 to Erie. That tally set up a do or die final game of the Round Robin for Seattle. The game was scoreless after one but Saint John took the lead early in the second before the TBirds’ season fell apart in a span of time lasting just over three minutes. During that period, the Sea Dogs scored five goals to take a 6-0 lead in what would be a 7-0 loss for Keegan’s team ending Seattle’s season and the fantastic run of the TBird’s core group of which Keegan was a big part.
Here is Seattle Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk’s postgame press conference in which a reporter asked about the core group of the Thunderbirds. I’m not one for excuses, but travel and fatigue may have been a factor. The first two games of the tournament marked nine games in 18 days for the boys along with two flights to and from Regina in the WHL Finals along with the trip to Windsor. Here is a graphic from Sportsnet comparing the travel of the four teams. (note Windsor only played in the first round of the playoffs, also 13K kilometers is equivalent to 8,528 miles)
As for next season, Keegan should probably be in Cleveland as a rookie pro. But, and I’d have to say it’s probably a real long shot, he could be back in Seattle as one of the team’s three 20 year olds. Should that happen, I’d have to think he’d get a chance at being Seattle’s captain.
There you go folks, a great year for the Jackets prospects. As for the next update, it will be my annual mock draft projecting who we add with a whole new generation of prospects.
I thank you for putting up with my nonsense and updates this season and I will be in Chicago for the draft.