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Thunderbirds prospect Brendan Williamson visits Seattle over weekend

KENT – The Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips made a rare trade on New Year’s Day and the big names in the deal were Sean Richards and Zack Andrusiak.

Sean Richards wasn’t the only player that Seattle General Manager Bil La Forge got back in the deal, however. Everett also sent forward Brendan Williamson to Seattle and the unsigned prospect attended the Thunderbirds weekend games to see if Seattle, and the WHL, would be his best path forward.

The trade came as a surprise to the 16-year-old from Abbotsford, who heard about it during a New Year’s Day breakfast with friends.

“Someone pulled up their phone and said I’d been traded to Seattle,” Williamson said. “I thought ‘whoa’. It was a surprise, but I’ve heard this is a pretty good city, so I was excited. (It was) Just on Twitter, my name was tagged, and the Everett guy called me and told me I was traded and then I contacted Bil.”

La Forge and Williamson knew each other because while still working for the Silvertips, La Forge had added Williamson to Everett’s protected list last year after scouting him. Williamson didn’t know much about Seattle prior to this weekend although he has played with Thunderbirds rookie Payton Mount in the past.

Williamson was in town this weekend with his Mom and hopes to make a decision soon. He says there are many factors that will go into the decision.

“The atmosphere,” he said. “I’ve heard there’s a crazy fan base here. The schooling and how it all ties together, it seems pretty amazing so far, so it has me leaning this way for sure.”

At the game Friday night against Portland the weather kept many of the fans away and Williamson said he understood that wasn’t the typical accesso ShoWare Center crowd. He was at Saturday’s game that featured a more raucous energy and an exciting Thunderbirds comeback win so he did get a bit of a taste as to how loud it can get.

The Thunderbirds will hope that the whole presentation persuades him to sign.

Friday night he was already wearing a Thunderbirds wind breaker. It wasn’t a Seattle Thunderbirds item, however. Williamson is currently playing for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds in the BCMMHL.

He’s having a strong season with 12 goals, 28 assists and 40 points in just 29 games so far and has his Thunderbirds team in first place.

“Just using my teammates,” he said about his current season. “The start of the year I was looking for points but now it’s just working hard, helping the team and the points will come. We’re in first right now, we’ve got a big weekend coming up but it’s looking good that we can stay in first.”

Williamson says that growing up he was a big Pavel Datsyuk fan. He liked the way the former Detroit Red Wings star played the game and tried to model his game in the same fashion.

He describes his game in a way that meshes with the style that La Forge has shown he’s trying to build in Seattle.

“Speed is a big part of my game,” Williamson said. “Speed and (playing) heavy is what the thing Bil said to me, I’m definitely a speed player.”

Being a Datsyuk fan, Williamson said he wore jersey number 13 growing up but laughed when it was pointed out to him that he probably won’t get that number were he to sign with Seattle.

“Yeah, Mat Barzal,” he said with a laugh.

Williamson has a decision to make, to sign with Seattle or pursue the Junior A route and most likely play in the BCHL. He has already played one game in Junior A with the Coquitlam Express so he’s had a brief glimpse of that style of play.

Now he’s also seen a couple of Thunderbirds home games and La Forge, and the club, hope that he ends up liking what he saw this weekend.