Kraken on the rise

In just their second season, Seattle’s new hockey team has cracked the code and made a run in the playoffs, instilling hope across the city

Dallas Stars vs Seattle Kraken. (Courtesy of Matt Wesche)

Dallas Stars vs Seattle Kraken. (Courtesy of Matt Wesche)

Amare Srinivasan, Staff Reporter

On Dec. 4, 2018, the Seattle Kraken were officially announced as the National Hockey League’s newest expansion team. Sports fans from the Emerald City rejoiced, and have continued to show their passion as a part of Seattle’s newest fanbase.

Starting their first season in 2021, the Kraken finished second to last in the Western Conference with a 26-49-6 record. The record was not ideal but it was expected for a new franchise to struggle at the start. 

In the 2022-2023 season, the expectations of the Kraken squad started to rise, and to their fans’ delight, so did the team’s performance. Starting with a 1-4-0 record, the season seemed to be turning into a repeat of the previous year. 

However, against all odds, the Kraken went on a surge and ended the regular season with a 46-28-8 record, securing the seventh seed in the Western Conference and making the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s brief history. Leading the team in goals was left wing Jared McCan who finished the season with 40 goals, while defender Vince Dunn finished with a team high of 50 assists.

Sophomore Matt Wesche, a dedicated Kraken fan, has been watching the team since their very first game, and couldn’t be more thrilled with how their season is going. 

“I’ve been to many Kraken games, even their first game ever, and I’m not sure if we have a chance, but I’m really hopeful that we can win it all,” Wesche said. 

Having been to many games, Wesche described how it has felt this season to be a part of this Kraken fanbase.

“The atmosphere of Climate Pledge Arena is very energetic, and I feel like it adds a new aspect to our city,” Wesche said. “After goals, we have a very special crowd celebration.”

 “Honestly I think the Kraken have the biggest fanbase in Seattle as of right now,” Wesche said. “I feel like watching the Kraken is another thing to bond over with your friends and family, even when they lose, it’s pretty fun to watch hockey after finally having a team.” 

In 2017, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who had been recently announced as an expansion team, shocked the world and made the Stanley Cup in just their first season. While the Kraken didn’t reach the Stanley Cup, making the second round in just their second season was still very impressive. 

“The crowd is nearly always full at Kraken games, and I feel like adding a new sport to Seattle was a great choice as everyone has loved watching the Kraken make the playoffs in just their second season,” Wesche said. 

Despite getting the seventh seed in the West and taking on the defending champions, the Colorado Avalanche, the Kraken did not settle there. After winning game one on the road, the Kraken finished off the series by winning game seven with a final score of two to one.

“I was watching game seven against Colorado with my family, and it was such a cool feeling to have a very new team come into the playoffs for the first time, and be able to beat the defending champions,” Wesche said.

After knocking off the Avalanche, the Kraken won the first game of their second round matchup in Dallas. After ending regulation in a four-four tie, the Kraken won the overtime period in dramatic fashion. 

“I think my favorite moment of the season had to have been the game winning overtime goal in game one against the Stars,” Wesche said. “The 360 spin by Yanni was incredible and that shot was so hard to hit.”

The game winning goal by Gourde closed out an intense overtime period, which had Kraken fans watching on the edge of their seats.

 “That goal was unsaveable, I felt like [Yanni] Gourde just placed the shot in the perfect place to where the goalie couldn’t have saved it,” Wesche said. “I felt so relieved when I saw the puck hit the back of the net after being on edge and insanely nervous during overtime due to the rule that the first team who scored in the extra period would win.”

After winning game one in Dallas, then falling into a three to two deficit in the series, the Kraken were able to force their second game seven in this year’s playoff run. Although this game seven did not end in the same result as the first one as the Kraken fell in a hard fought duel, with a final score of two to one, ultimately ending their season.

After having a magical, unexpected season and playoff run, the Seattle Kraken were eliminated on May 15, and will watch the rest of the postseason from their homes. 

What started as a season with growing expectations, ended up creating a determined fanbase, as well as giving Seattle sports fans more hope for the future.