With the exchange of overage players, Seattle remains set at the limit of three. In addition to Watson, the Thunderbirds are expected to return 20-year-old defensemen Jared Hauf and Jerret Smith.
Seattle’s first-round playoff exit precipitated a sudden turn of the page to the 2015-16 season. Evan Wardley is one of a quartet of players moving on in their respective hockey careers, while potentially 11 first-year players return for their sophomore seasons with the Thunderbirds.
Through the first three games, Seattle did an effective job of staying out of the penalty box and not handing the offensive juggernaut of Portland unnecessary man-advantages. That was not the case in Game 4.
Seattle defenseman Jerret Smith scored twice, including an empty-net goal at 18:34 of the third period, to give the T-Birds a 2-1 series lead.
The biggest award, though, went to overage goaltender Taran Kozun. Kozun, 20, was named the team’s Most Valuable Player after a season in which he finished with a 2.41 goals against average.
Seattle completed its regular-season series with the Winterhawks with a superior 7-4-1-0 record over their bitter Interstate-5 rival. The series was really a tale of two halves with the T-Birds winning five of the first six and Portland taking four of the final six.
In the 12 games over the month of February, the unit’s scoring production wasn’t consistent with their activity. Not one of the three forwards topped seven points for the month in which they combined for 18 as a group.
Seattle scored four second-period goals en route to a 7-0 skinning of the first-place Silvertips in front of 5,008 at the ShoWare Center. It was the worst shutout loss for Everett since it was beaten 8-0 by Portland January 12, 2013.
Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist to lead Seattle (28-20-3-3) which trailed 1-0 midway through the third period. Goaltender Taran Kozun saved 32 of 33 shots against the second-best offense in the Western Hockey League, a team that entered with 236 goals.
Shea Theodore passed former defenseman Craig Channell, a Seattle Breaker from 1979-82, with two assists in a 6-3 victory Friday night against the Portland Winterhawks.