Two longcourt arch-rivals of the Kraken heard roars from level ice again Sunday afternoon at the Super Skills Showcase. The lower bowl of Climate Pledge Arena is filled with fans who got to experience competitive All-Star game skills on a smaller scale — Seattle players only — for a fraction of the game ticket price.
“A great day for the fans. It was amazing to see how many people came here today,” said Kraken forward Jonas Donskoy. “It’s been a while since I’ve been there, so it was good to see the fans and experience it again.”
Donskoy, who suffered an injury before the season and hasn’t played since, served as honorary captain for one team alongside goalkeeper Chris Dredger, who also didn’t appear in a game this season after offseason knee surgery. Dryer was the other captain. Dredger’s team defeated Philip Grubauer’s group last season, winning for the second year in a row… probably.
“I don’t know how our team ended up winning, I thought we were even,” Morgan Geckey admitted. “But we got the trophy. I think we won.”
He spent most of his Donskoi afternoon on the ice arguing with his half-year-old son, who seemed to send a clear message: “Put me in, Coach.”
“He loves being on the ice. Every time I try to get him off the ice, he starts crying,” Donskoy said.
Substitute captain Jordan Eberle skated in on the first attempt to break up with his daughter. Father-daughter missed, keeping teammate Brandon Tanev straight on the bench while Eberle made his second successful attempt – a brilliant chip at the back.
They kept track of how many pucks went into the net during the breakaway challenge. There were no degrees for art, but how could one pass up such an opportunity? Rookie center Matty Benyers, who was set to be the Kraken’s lone representative in the actual NHL All-Star skills contest in less than two weeks, stepped up and scored through his legs. Oliver Bjorkstrand transformed the spin-off premiere. Geekie scored lacrosse style, waving the puck around locking the blade of the stick before tossing it in. This move is borrowed from Sidney Crosby’s youth commercial.
“It’s absolutely outrageous,” said Jiki. “But the game is going in the direction where you’re kind of trying to experiment with what you want these days.”
Although some competitive fire crept in, it was all about the spectacle and the fun. There was a fast radio booth broadcasting the toughest contest. Television color analyst JT Brown, citing off-season hip surgery, begged and made an unfair demand that Kraken forward Daniel Sprung take his place. Sprong’s rip was in excess of 98 mph.
The defending shooting contest winner, Jiki, faced controversy last year when his radar gun may or may not have malfunctioned. On Sunday, he left no room for doubt. Geekie’s first attempt was 100.9 mph, which was good enough to win. His second, to be sure, was 104.8 mph.
He noted that he worked smarter, not harder.
“There’s a little trick to it. I think if you shoot it lower, it scores a little bit better,” said Jiki.
“I honestly didn’t think I was going to win — Spronger had a better chance than me. Same with (Cal) Fleury — I thought Fleury definitely had that.”
Eeli Tolvanen completed his precision aiming challenge just under the wire, demolishing his final target as time ran out. Jared McCann struggled in this challenge and Sprung finished strong, winning easily. He hit all of his targets two goals at once with just a few misses.
Players who have recently lost time due to injuries, such as Andrzej Borakowski and Justin Schultz, looked on but didn’t take part. Yanni Gord, who had played in Seattle’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche the night before, handled some of the athletic duties.
The end was a low-scoring 3-on-3 scrimmage. McCann swung the puck and got it more than he intended, sending it to defenseman Jimmy Oleksiak and narrowly avoiding real-world consequences.
“I was an inch away from having his teeth pulled out—his brand new teeth,” McCann said. “I was afraid for my life after that. Maybe that shouldn’t have been done.”