It won’t take Armstrong hockey product Zack Andrusiak long to get to his new Western Hockey League home, unless rush hour traffic is an issue.
In a case of a New Year, new beginning, the Seattle Thunderbirds dealt the 20-year-old Andrusiak 43 kilometres north on Interstate 5 to the Everett Silvertips on Jan. 1 in exchange for left-winger Sean Richards, the rights to forward Brendan Williamson, a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, a third round pick in the 2021 bantam draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 bantam draft.
“Zack has been having a very good year for us which made making this trade difficult,” said T-Birds general manager Bill La Forge. “This move helps us going forward and keeps us competitive right now.”
Andrusiak had 27 goals and 12 assists for 39 points in 34 games this season with Seattle. In 173 games over three seasons with the T-Birds, Prince Albert Raiders and Tri-City Americans, he has 69 goals and 55 assists for 124 points. Andrusiak was acquired by the T-Birds from the Raiders on Oct. 20, 2016, for Cavin Leth.
Richards, a 20-year-old, had 10 goals and eight assists for 18 points in 27 games this season with the Silvertips. In 212 career WHL games with the Silvertips and Regina Pats, he has 41 goals and 67 assists for 108 points.
Williamson, born in 2002, is currently playing for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds in the BC Major Midget League. The Chilliwack native is third in the BCMML in scoring with 10 goals and 26 assists for 36 points in 24 games. Williamson was listed by La Forge last year when he was the Director of Player Personnel for the Everett Silvertips.
Andrusiak is another big addition to the forward core of the Silvertips, who are making a strong bid to capture their second Western Conference Championship in a row and lift the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL Champions for the first time in franchise history.
He has been a staple of the Thunderbirds’ offence for the past two seasons. Andrusiak originally made his WHL debut with the Tri-City Americans on Dec. 31, 2014. Since then, he’s appeared in 173 WHL regular season games, including eight and seven-game stints with the Prince Albert Raiders and Americans respectively, totalling 124 points (69G-55A) including 17 power-play goals, one short-handed goal, and five game-winning goals.
“We set a goal leading up to the trade deadline to make a significant offensive upgrade for our club and Zack Andrusiak was a player we’ve targeted for a while who meets our needs,” said Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson, the former co-owner, head coach and general manager of the B.C. Hockey League’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. “He’s a finisher and respected as a proven goal scorer in the WHL.
“His capabilities to produce against familiar competition within our division and experience two years ago on a team that won a WHL championship are valuable elements we’re excited to add to a group we’re already very proud of. We look forward to warmly welcoming Zack to the Silvertips family and adding him to the roster in time for our next game on Friday against Tri-City.”
Andrusiak’s first full season in the WHL saw him play 52 regular season games and 18 playoff games as the Thunderbirds captured the WHL Championship in the 2016-17 season. This season, the 5-foot-11, 178-pound Andrusiak has recorded 39 points in 34 games, including six power-play goals, one short-handed goal, and one game-winning goal.
Everett (29-7-1-1) has 60 points to lead the U.S. Division by 13 points over the Portland Winterhawks. Seattle is fifth at 11-19-4-0, 34 points behind the ‘Tips.
The Silvertips are second overall in the WHL, trailing only the Prince Albert Raiders (34-3-0-1, 69 points).
Andrusiak will return to Seattle Friday, Feb. 1, when Everett visits the Thunderbirds.