Thunderbirds rookie Brendan Williamson is in the mix at forward
KENT – Seattle Thunderbirds rookie forward Brendan Williamson was feeling snake bit for much of Friday’s Doc Blue training camp final. He had created three or four quality scoring chances but couldn’t get one past goalie Thomas Milic. With his Team White holding onto a slim one-goal lead late, he would get another opportunity.
Defenseman Kevin Korchinski flipped the puck up and out to center ice where Williamson turned on the jets, corralled the pass and found himself behind the defense. This time, Milic wouldn’t be able to stop him.
“I was gunning all game, hit a couple of posts and stuff like that,” Williamson said of the play. “Nice flick by the D-Man. I wasn’t going to dangle, last time I dangled the goalie stopped me. He’s a good goalie so I just decided to shoot, and it went in.”
It would give Team White an insurance goal on their way to winning the first Doc Blue Cup as training camp champs.
Williamson is in his first camp with the Thunderbirds, and in the WHL. He was the main piece to the trade that general manager Bil La Forge swung last January when he sent Zack Andrusiak to the Silvertips.
La Forge was familiar with Williamson and had listed the 6-foot-0 forward when La Forge was working as Everett’s Director of Player Personnel. Trading for him was a gamble of sorts, as Williamson had not signed a WHL contract and wasn’t sure if he wanted to.
“(Everett) were looking to sign me but I wasn’t as interested,” Williamson recalls. “I was more thinking BCHL and college route. I’m decent in school and my Mom was kind of pushing towards that route.”
He had options and instead of playing in the WHL, he spent last year with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the British Columbia Major Midget League. The BCMML is for 15 and 16-year-old players and is highly regarded as a competitive league.
Williamson played well.
In 29 games he scored 12 times while adding 28 assists for 40 points. He’s got the size, skill, and speed, something that La Forge wants to stock his Thunderbirds club with.
After the trade, Williamson came to visit the Thunderbirds for a game in February. There was a foot of snow outside the accesso ShoWare Center and a smaller than usual crowd, but Williamson was impressed with the facilities and the program.
“It’s just the culture here, everyone just wants it more.” He said of his first impressions. “I didn’t visit Everett much so I can’t say their culture is different or anything, but with Seattle, I loved it. From the first time I walked into the rink I loved it.”
He’s shown well during a week filled with two scrimmages a day.
Seattle has room in its forward group and Williamson has made a strong case that he belongs in the top-nine, and even in the top-six of that group. In seven scrimmages he scored three goals and piled up six points.
A year older than some rookies, he’s learning to adjust to the play in the WHL.
“A lot of guys develop at a later age, so I think that extra year definitely gave me a lot more confidence coming in to show I could actually be here and could play here,” he said. “I don’t know if I could have played last year. I have a friend who went up halfway through the season, and he said, ‘you can play in that league’. It’s been fun, I like the level of the intensity of the players.”
That level of intensity is going to pick up over the next couple of weeks as the Thunderbirds inch closer to the start of the regular season.
Next up for Williamson will be Saturday’s Blue-White game that will be more structured than the training camp scrimmages. After that, he’ll get to play against guys in different jerseys as Seattle will open its preseason at the Everett Preseason Holiday Classic over Labor Day Weekend.
It will be another chance for him to state his case for a spot in Seattle’s forward rotation, and he’s looking forward to it.
“I’m really excited,” Williamson said. “I have a couple buddies on Everett, it’s going to be fun to match up with them.”
Ross leads way to 5-2 Doc Blue Cup win for Team White
Goalie Roddy Ross continued to look every bit the part of NHL drafted goalie in Friday’s training camp championship game. He allowed two goals, one on a deadly wrist shot from Jared Davidson and the other on a penalty shot from prospect Carter Yarish, but that was all Team Green would be able to generate.
Ross ends training camp with a 3-0-1 record along with a .947 save-percentage.
The Thunderbirds will be back on the accesso ShoWare Center ice Saturday with a pair of games. At 1 p.m. the rookies and prospects will square off in a futures showcase, followed by the annual Blue-White game at 6 p.m.
Unlike the training camp scrimmages, both of Saturday’s games will be timed like regular WHL contests, and the players will be in full uniforms. Both games are open to the public and free of charge.