Thunderbirds aim to close playoff series against Silvertips

KENT, Wash. -- If you ask the Seattle Thunderbirds, they'll all tell you the same thing: it's great to have a 3-0 lead in their first round playoff series against the Everett Silvertips.

"The emotions are good in the room," said captain Justin Hickman. "Obviously, we've put ourselves in a great position."

With that said, the T-Birds know there's more work to be done. Game four of the best-of-seven series is Friday at 7:35 p.m. in Everett.

"Everett is a great hockey club and we've been lucky so far," said defenseman Evan Wardley. "We can't take it lightly. We're expecting a seven-game series against this club, so that's how we're looking at it."

Seattle was in the same exact position last year. Playing in their first playoff series since 2009, the Thunderbirds stormed out to a 3-0 series lead against heavily-favored Kelowna, only to have the Rockets win the final four games, eliminating Seattle from the postseason.

"It was pretty heartbreaking," Wardley said.

The Thunderbirds say they've learned from that experience, and they don't want to feel the same pain again.

"Last year is definitely still on our minds," said Hickman. "We don't give ourselves a pat on the back because we've won three. Everett is a great team, and they're going to come out even harder. We have to make sure we're ready to go."

Head coach Steve Konowalchuk prefers not to focus on last year, pointing out that the Thunderbirds are a different team now, and they're facing a different opponent. For him, it's all about the here and now.

"We're trying to keep a short focus...just worry about the next shift," Konowalchuk said. "The results will be what they're going to be. You just have to worry about going out and taking care of the process."