A day after trade, Alex Morozoff leads Thunderbirds in preseason finale
KENT – Things are going to get real for the Seattle Thunderbirds after Tuesday’s 5-4 win in the preseason finale against the Everett Silvertips.
The Thunderbirds were paced by two goals from newcomer Alex Morozoff, who was picked up in a trade with Red Deer on Monday. It was a strong debut for a guy who hopped on a 4 am shuttle to make it to the airport for a 7 am flight to Seattle.
“It felt good,” Morozoff said. “It’s nice to get the first couple even though its preseason. I’m a little tired.”
The Thunderbirds scored four times in the second period to spark the win and end the preseason schedule with an impressive 5-0-1-0 record.
“We had a stretch where we were sustaining some O-Zone time,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said about Tuesday’s win. “Wasn’t overly pumped with the rest of it. It’s nice to win and finish the preseason on a positive note, but take it with a grain of salt. There’s a lot of incomplete lineups out there and young goalies.”
Seattle will now move into its regular-season mode with a week and a half of practice before opening the season with a home game on Sept. 21st against the Kamloops Blazers.
There are still roster decisions to make with the forward group and a lot of work to be done as O’Dette will start to install his system.
“There’s a lot to clean up,” O’Dette said. “There’s stuff we haven’t even got to yet and there’s a lot of practice time headed our way. We can start some line combinations going, the lines have been all over the place in the preseason so it will be nice to get some continuity.”
Morozoff wasn’t the only former Red Deer Rebel to make his Seattle debut Tuesday.
Defenseman Hunter Donohoe saw his first action of the preseason since being traded to the Thunderbirds on August 26th. When he arrived in Seattle he was not cleared to play due to an illness.
He played limited minutes on Tuesday but was on the ice for one of the Thunderbirds goals.
“He was solid, played within himself,” O’Dette said of his new 6-foot-5 defenseman. “He was on a little bit of a pitch count tonight with his first game in there.”
Morozoff and Donohoe were teammates two weeks ago and are now living together in Seattle.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time the two played a game at the accesso ShoWare Center. Both were with Red Deer when the Rebels lost a 6-4 decision to Seattle on Feb. 15th.
The atmosphere had a lasting impression on both of them.
“The fans,” Donohoe said of what he remembers. “They just kind of cave in on you almost. And the goal song saying ‘you suck’. It’s a little bit different than the Canadian markets but its super fun to play in.”
Morozoff’s first goal tied the game at 1-1 after Everett took a lead with a goal from Jalen Price. That would kick off a four-goal Seattle barrage as he scored twice along with goals from Owen Williams and Andrej Kukuca.
“A great debut by Alex,” O’Dette said. “He wanted to get in here and play ASAP. You like to see that with players that are freshly acquired, they want to get there and get to work. You could tell he’s got a good shot and is an offensive player.”
Everett made a push in the third period to get the game to within one at 5-4 but the Thunderbirds and goalie Blake Lyda would hold on for the win. The Seattle goalie would end the night by stopping 27 shots from his former club.
The Silvertips were led by Gage Goncalves who scored twice on the night as Everett ends its preseason with a 4-1-1-0 record.
Seattle’s preseason was successful from a standpoint of winning games but there is work to be done. As the young Thunderbirds head into the regular season, they do so knowing what winning feels like.
“You want to feel like you can win games even though in some games you’re not playing your best,” O’Dette said. “It does give you confidence moving forward that you can get it done. Guys are scoring and putting pucks in the net so that’s a good feeling. Guys should be feeling good but know there’s still work to be done.”
• Seattle did not play Henrik Rybinski, Matthew Wedman, and Roddy Ross who are attending NHL camps. Also scratched were Mekai Sanders, Kai Uchacz, Tyler Carpendale, and Jaxan Kaluski who are dealing with injuries.
• The Thunderbirds over-ager situation is a bit clearer as Baron Thompson has been released by the team. Seattle’s remaining 20-year-olds include Wedman, Kaluski, Conner Bruggen-Cate, and Andrej Kukuca.
• Not only did Seattle win five of the six preseason games but it scored a lot of goals. In six games, the Thunderbirds averaged 4.8 goals-per-game.