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Matty Beniers, Julio Rodriguez and Tariq Woolen headline Seattle's 'Year of the Rookie'

Seattle is the first metro area to have an NFL, MLB and NHL rookie make his respective All-Star team.

SEATTLE — What started with Julio ends with history and solidifies the past year in Seattle sports as the Year of the Rookie.

There was the All-Star selection for Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez in the summer.

"(I showed) a little bit of my style and who I am," Rodriguez said after a dazzling performance in the Home Run Derby. "I think they know a little bit now."

Seahawks cornerback Tariq Woolen followed suit in the fall, with a standout season very few saw coming.

"Nobody thought (I'd make the) Pro Bowl," Woolen said. "Nobody thought (I would) lead the league in interceptions. Nobody thought (I would) be a starter."

Kraken forward Matty Beniers completed the trifecta with his selection to the NHL All-Star game a few weeks ago.

Credit: AP
Seattle Kraken center Matty Beniers (10) puts the puck past Buffalo Sabres goaltender Eric Comrie (31) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

"No expectations for the season and that definitely wasn't one of them," Beniers said.

That attitude from Beniers has paid off, as he enters the All-Star break leading all rookies in goals and points.

He's become the face of a franchise that's starting to fly.

"You see so many people with Kraken shirts and jerseys all around the city," Beniers said.

Beniers will miss out on a chance to take the Kraken brand to the national stage after being the target of a blindside hit a few nights ago.

But just by being selected, he matched the standard set by the two other rookies down the street.

"I just wanted to show people that a guy like me, you can come from UTSA, you can come from any school, you just got to get a chance," Woolen said.

"It's pretty surreal when you think of a kid from Noma de Cabrera," Rodriguez said at All-Star weekend in July. "Just being here, I'm definitely grateful for that and I feel blessed for the opportunity."

While the path for Beniers has not been about defying the odds individually, he's led a team that certainly has. The Kraken has improved from worst to first in the Pacific Division.

"Internally I think we knew, 'hey we're pretty good,'" Beniers said. "And then it was just kind of showing everyone else. I think over the last couple of weeks we really started to gain respect around the league and from other teams."


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