And the best thing about taking in a Seattle Thunderbirds game is getting to see these opposites at play with one another in an arena where you're closer to the action and can see future stars before they hit the big leagues. That's because the Thunderbirds are a part of the Western Hockey League, or WHL, which is a junior league for players ages 16-21. Many of these players are either too young to be NHL draft eligible (eligibility starts at 18), or they've recently been drafted but are being kept in the major juniors so that they can continue to grow and develop alongside their peers before moving up to minor league hockey, where they would have to play against fully grown adults, some of whom have experience at the NHL level.
This means that you can get the bragging rights to say that you saw big names before they got big. Some former Thunderbirds who have gone on to have big successes in the NHL include Patrick Marleau, who had a 23-year-long career in the league and currently holds the record for most NHL regular season games played at 1,779, and Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders, who won the 2018 Calder Memorial Trophy (the NHL's Rookie of the Year award). Plus, you'll get to see junior players from across the WHL as they visit accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, a venue where every seat is close to the action. The experience of going to a Thunderbirds game is fantastic. The crowd is always very energetic and will get you into the mood of the game, and the fans are friendly and knowledgable about the sport, so even if you don't know much about hockey you'll find yourself educated and excited in no time.