Winnipeg Ice

Seattle Thunderbirds Claim Ed Chynoweth Cup as 2023 WHL Champions

May 20, 2023 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Winnipeg Ice News Release

Kent, Wash. - The Seattle Thunderbirds are the 2023 WHL Champions following a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg ICE in Game 5 of the WHL Championship Series presented by Nutrien Friday at accesso ShoWare Center.

2023 NHL Draft prospect Nico Myatovic (Prince George, B.C.) scored the Ed Chynoweth Cup-clinching goal 2:27 into the third period, beating ICE goaltender Daniel Hauser (Chestermere, Alta.) on a penalty shot.

Goaltender Thomas Milic (Coquitlam, B.C.), who was named 2023 WHL Playoffs MVP, turned aside 30 shots to backstop the Thunderbirds.

The Thunderbirds made the most of their second consecutive trip to the WHL Championship, defeating the Winnipeg ICE to claim the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2023 after having fallen to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the spring of 2022.

This represents the Thunderbirds' second WHL Championship in franchise history.

Under the guidance of Head Coach Matt O'Dette, the Thunderbirds were among the class of the WHL all season long, finishing the 2022-23 WHL Regular Season atop the Western Conference with a record of 54-11-1-2. The 111 points represents the best regular season in Thunderbirds franchise history.

All season, the Thunderbirds enjoyed the comforts of home at accesso ShoWare Center, registering an impressive record of 29-3-1-1 on home ice.

Seattle completed the 2023 WHL Playoffs presented by Nutrien with a record of 16-3. The Thunderbirds were once again dominant at home going 9-1 including clinching the Ed Chynoweth Cup at the accesso ShoWare Center.

No team scored more during the 2023 WHL Playoffs, as the Thunderbirds racked up 82 goals (4.32 goals per game) for while only allowing 38 goals against (2.00 goals against per game).

The Thunderbirds rolled through the first two rounds of the 2023 WHL Playoffs presented by Nutrien, sweeping the Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars one after the other. The WHL Western Conference Championship proved a tougher test, as Seattle needed six games to work past the Memorial Cup host Kamloops Blazers.

Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Guenther (Edmonton, Alta.) led the charge offensively, recording [insert point totals] to lead the Thunderbirds in scoring. His 16 goals led the entire WHL during the 2023 WHL Playoffs. Guenther's impressive run came on the heels of 29 points (13G-16A) during 20 regular season contests, being returned to the Thunderbirds late in the season by the NHL's Coyotes.

Helping to backstop the Thunderbirds to the second WHL crown in franchise history was 2023 NHL Draft prospect Thomas Milic (Coquitlam, B.C.). The World Juniors gold medallist was named WHL Goaltender of the Year for his regular season performance and he carried that over to the post-season, leading the WHL in all major goaltending categories, including goals-against average (1.95), save percentage (.933), and wins (16).

WHL Executive of the Year Bil La Forge served as the architect of a Thunderbirds roster unlike any other seen in recent WHL history. La Forge made a number of key additions to the 2022-23 edition of the Thunderbirds, including the acquisition of Guenther, Chicago Blackhawks prospect Nolan Allan (Davidson, Sask.), Chicago Blackhawks prospect Colton Dach (Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.), Winnipeg Jets prospect Brad Lambert (Lahti, Finland), and Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop.

Seattle's roster was stacked with NHL prospects, including the aforementioned Guenther, Allan, Dach, Lambert, and Prokop, as well as Calgary Flames prospect and Thunderbirds captain Lucas Ciona (Edmonton, Alta.), Montreal Canadiens prospect Jared Davidson (Edmonton, Alta.), Vegas Golden Knights prospect Jordan Gustafson (Ardrossan, Alta.), Nashville Predators prospect Reid Schaefer (Spruce Grove, Alta.), and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kevin Korchinski (Saskatoon, Sask).

Davidson had a major impact, both in the regular season and the playoffs. With 82 points (38G-44A) in 60 contests, he led the Thunderbirds in scoring during the regular season. He followed that up with another 11 goals during the 2023 WHL Playoffs, which helped him become the Thunderbirds all-time playoff goal-scoring leader.

Lambert, acquired earlier in the season from the Saskatoon Blades, was assigned to WHL Seattle late in the season by the NHL's Jets. From there, he did nothing short of wow, logging 38 points (17G-21A) in 26 regular season outings and another 26 points (6G-20A) in 17 playoff games.

On top of the drafted NHL talent, the Thunderbirds also boast six players ranked by NHL Central Scouting for the 2023 NHL Draft, including Milic, Gracyn Sawchyn (Grande Prairie, Alta.), Nico Myatovic (Prince George, B.C.), Sawyer Mynio (Kamloops, B.C.), Jeremy Hanzel (Coquitlam, B.C.), and Scott Ratzlaff (Irma, Alta.)

The Thunderbirds first captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2017 after finishing the regular season with a record of 46-20-4-2 (98 points). The 2017 edition of the Thunderbirds also swept the first two rounds of the WHL Playoffs, including the Tri-City Americans and Everett Silvertips. Seattle then dispatched the Kelowna Rockets in six games to win the WHL's Western Conference Championship before knocking off the Regina Pats in six games to win the 2017 WHL Championship.

The 2017 champion Thunderbirds were led by the likes of future NHL stars Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders), Keegan Kolesar (Vegas Golden Knights) and Ethan Bear (Vancouver Canucks). Barzal was named 2017 WHL Playoffs MVP.

The Thunderbirds now move on to compete in the 2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia, scheduled for Kamloops, B.C. from May 26 to June 4. Seattle's first game is scheduled for Saturday, May 27 against the OHL Champion.

Previous WHL Champions

2022 - Edmonton Oil Kings

2019 - Prince Albert Raiders

2018 - Swift Current Broncos

2017 - Seattle Thunderbirds

2016 - Brandon Wheat Kings

2015 - Kelowna Rockets

2014 - Edmonton Oil Kings*

2013 - Portland Winterhawks

2012 - Edmonton Oil Kings

2011 - Kootenay ICE

2010 - Calgary Hitmen

2009 - Kelowna Rockets

2008 - Spokane Chiefs*

2007 - Medicine Hat Tigers

2006 - Vancouver Giants

2005 - Kelowna Rockets

2004 - Medicine Hat Tigers

2003 - Kelowna Rockets

2002 - Kootenay ICE*

2001 - Red Deer Rebels*

2000 - Kootenay ICE

1999 - Calgary Hitmen

1998 - Portland Winterhawks*

1997 - Lethbridge Hurricanes

1996 - Brandon Wheat Kings

1995 - Kamloops Blazers*

1994 - Kamloops Blazers*

1993 - Swift Current Broncos

1992 - Kamloops Blazers*

1991 - Spokane Chiefs*

1990 - Kamloops Blazers

1989 - Swift Current Broncos*

1988 - Medicine Hat Tigers*

1987 - Medicine Hat Tigers*

1986 - Kamloops Blazers

1985 - Prince Albert Raiders*

1984 - Kamloops Junior Oilers

1983 - Lethbridge Broncos

1982 - Portland Winterhawks

1981 - Victoria Cougars

1980 - Regina Pats

1979 - Brandon Wheat Kings

1978 - New Westminster Bruins*

1977 - New Westminster Bruins*

1976 - New Westminster Bruins

1975 - New Westminster Bruins

1974 - Regina Pats*

1973 - Medicine Hat Tigers

1972 - Edmonton Oil Kings

1971 - Edmonton Oil Kings

1970 - Flin Flon Bombers

1969 - Flin Flon Bombers

1968 - Estevan Bruins

1967 - Moose Jaw Canucks

*Memorial Cup winner

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