26 Players On the Roster


Earlier today the Everett Silvertips proceeded with necessary roster reductions, with the opener for the season just 12 days away.

GM Garry Davidson announced four players were assigned to their midget level teams:

  • Blake Lyda – goaltender
  • Alex Moar – defenseman
  • Dylan Anderson – defenseman
  • Conrad Mitchell – forward

As all four players are signed to WHL standard player agreements, each are eligible to be listed as affiliated players (“AP” as the term we throw around a lot) and return to the roster at some point this season on recall. They can play at a maximum of five games, unless their midget season has ended.

All four players delivered impressive moments during training camp and pre-season, suggesting more ice time with their clubs to start the season. Mitchell and Moar are from the Tips ’01 draft class, while Lyda and Anderson are both from the ’02 class, suggesting  plenty of development opportunities ahead.

Today was a day off from practice after back-to-back games in Langley. The Tips are expected to resume practice tomorrow at XFINITY Arena, tuning up for the last back-to-back set of pre-season games against the Seattle Thunderbirds (home on Friday, in Kent on Saturday).

RADIO UPDATE: We’ve had a few requests come in (great – it’s appreciated, and means you’re fired up!) about the Silvertips Hockey Show. A few loose ends with the schedule are still being tied down, but plan on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 for the season debut at Sporty’s Beef and Brew on Fox Sports 1380 / FM 95.3. Plan on the usual 6-7pm time slot, plan on the same amazing Taco Tuesday, and plan on hearing who will be on the show later this week. It’s coming. I’m getting all the elements ready to go (not to mention a few new “broadcast toys” being rolled out behind the scenes, which fires me up).

We’ll be on air again for game broadcasts starting Opening Night, Sept. 23.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently is entering his third season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 13th in the game.  Tweet at him here.

 

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CAMP ENTRY: Breaking Out of the Shell


[** Update: we’ve been informed the Rookie Game will now start at 5:30pm. Plan accordingly. Admission is free.**]

FRIDAY: By the time [*goal*] you finish [*goal*] reading this [*goal*], our hope is [*goal*] you’ll be more [*goal*] informed [*goal*] and entertained.

[*goal*]

Sorry, had that 3pm Blue vs Grey scrimmage stuck in my head.

Blue won, 8-5. Spoiler alert: Matt Fonteyne and Orrin Centazzo (10 points in camp) each had three points.

More nuggets coming along from Friday, but for now, here is where everything stands for the scrimmage chapter of training camp:

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 6.13.51 PM

The Tips Rookie Game is 5pm on Saturday, followed by the 1:30pm Green vs. Grey Game on Sunday. As a reminder, for games at XFINITY Arena, admission is free. It may be said “the best things in life aren’t free,” but you can never go wrong with free hockey.

Among the developments from today:

  • Team Blue leads with a +5 goal differential and has buried 18 goals in 3 games. While you can’t place 100 percent stock into training camp, like a baked good that’s only been in the oven for 30 seconds, the names down the line bear little to no surprise this is happening: Fonteyne, Centazzo (as articulated above with a whopping 10 points), Dawson Butt, ’17 second rounder Jackson Berezowski, Conrad Mitchell, and former Red Deer Rebel Quinn Martin. Jake Christiansen is the elder statesman on the blueline.
  • Team Grey isn’t too far behind with 16 goals in the 3 games. Patrick Bajkov, Ethan Browne, Connor Dewar, prospect Brayden Morrison, and defenseman Montana Onyebuchi are among the notables still in the hunt for the prospect round robin title. There really hasn’t been one shift I’ve seen, involving Bajkov/Dewar/Browne where something HASN’T happened.
  • We had more conversations with notable Tips prospects that you could be hearing from in the future. One fun did you know: BC native (and ’17 draftee) Kent Johnson goes back as family friends with Ryan Johansen (Portland) and Lucas Johansen (Kelowna). The games of shinny have been few and far between recently, for obvious reasons, but a strong WHL connection still remains intact.

 

Browne stopped gracefully to say a few words into the recorders of mine and (Everett Herald) Jesse Geleynse:

  1. QUESTION: How productive was this summer?

BROWNE: Really good, I got stronger, that helps. It’s good to be back with the boys.

  1. QUESTION: You were up and down with the team a couple of times last year. How did that help heading into this year?

BROWNE: It showed me how to play systems, the league, and it’s a lot different compared to midget.

  1. QUESTION: What’s the biggest difference from midget to this level?

BROWNE: It’s more passive with regards to the forechecks: there’s only one guy forechecking so you have a lot of time when you’re in your own zone. (Reporter: patience with the puck, the better) Yes, that’s my skill – patience with the puck.

  1. QUESTION: How was the summer with regards to getting ready for your rookie year?

BROWNE: Just working out every day, I went to morning shinny at 5am (Reporter: you’re a morning person!) Sometimes.

  1. QUESTION: Have you talked with Dennis Williams as far as your role for this year, or is it too early for that?

BROWNE: It’s too early for that. I still haven’t talked to him because we’re still early in camp.

  1. QUESTION: How often do you keep in contact with fellow members of your draft class, like Mark Liwiski?

BROWNE: I’m actually very good friends with Liwiski. I talk to him every good day, we’re good pals.

  1. QUESTION: What do you like most about his game?

BROWNE: Oh – he’s physical, aggressive, likes to get in your face. He can probably fight too.

  1. QUESTION: Anybody else you watched last year or seen this year that you’re looking forward to playing with?

BROWNE: Well, I went to school with Conrad Mitchell in eighth grade. He’s crazy good now. He’s fast, it amazed me seeing him play. We went to school at Vimy Ridge Academy (in Edmonton, Alberta).

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently is entering his third season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 13th in the game.  Tweet at him here.

CAMP ENTRY: Day 2, Painting the Canvas.


START PAINTING THAT CANVAS

There are three games, nearly 100 players, and about roughly 12 hours to cover in a full day.

Welcome to training camp, the most wonderful time of the year.

What’s appreciated is seeing the rapid progression and evolution of the developing human frame that’s suited to fit in major junior hockey equipment.

Connor Dewar’s bigger. Orrin Centazzo is bigger (and faster). Conrad Mitchell, signed but yet to play in a WHL game, looks as tall as a light post on skates (and he can move).

Ethan Browne, another Tips blue chipper, is more slick. Bajkov, Davis, and Fonteyne are up to their old tricks.

It’s enough progression to make any hockey centric mind salivate. Proof: the Tips typically bring in catered goods from Major League Pizza, El Paraiso, and Jersey Mike’s for the world class wrecking crew of hockey scouts. All the leftovers were cleaned out today by 11:30am.

Other observations that stuck out, from the moments where I could relax and lay eyes on the developing play:

  • Browne, as mentioned above, never missed a tape-to-tape pass. He had one goal in the morning session that was a complete roof job, and his decision making off the rush (read: patience with the puck) resembled a savvy vet.
  • This year’s first rounder, Ronan Seeley: also looking like a solid gem on the blueline, using his skating ability to deliver pucks out of his own zone in rapid fashion. Also chipped in with a goal that was deflected off traffic from the point. Some point to his skill foundation and mutter, “Kevin Davis.” That’s good.
  • There were three plays by Centazzo that made me drop my jaw. First was a breakaway goal, backhand deke, executed from a high rate of speed off the rush. Then there was the thread-the-needle pass to Quinn Martin on a 2-on-1 goal, then there was a low snapper off the rush from the right circle. Centazzo is fully healed, and ready to go.
  • Brendan Morrison (NHL vet, with plenty of stories to share) and son, Brayden (Tips prospect, in camp) are both extremely articulate. We’re putting this story and conversation into video form. Look for more soon.

Before shuffling off to Everett Memorial Stadium to get a tutorial from Dennis Williams and Mitch Love on how to appropriate throw a baseball (yours truly had a little league career high of 3-for-23 one season), I caught up with Connor Dewar.

He’s fresh off Toronto Maple Leafs development camp, too.

  1. MIKE BENTON: How was the summer?

CONNOR DEWAR: Very good, hung out with buddies and family. Spent a lot of time training.

  1. MB: How much more compared to years past?

CD: I took it more seriously I think. Going into camp with Toronto there were a few things I picked up and applied to how I’m training today.

  1. MB: How faster is the game in that environment?

CD: It was pretty fast, scrambled. Different game than what I’m used to.

  1. MB: How much did you understand what it takes to be on the right track to the pro level?

CD: Just that everything matters. You have to take care of yourself, work hard every day, and do something every day to get better.

  1. MB: What kind of goals have you set for this year, and how much weight have you put on?

CD: Just play one game at a time, and do the best I can. Officially I put on 5-6 pounds.

5a. MB: Is there really such thing as putting on too much weight (like 20 pounds)?

CD: I think so. It’s really hard for your body to move, and four months (of an offseason) is a really short time for your body to get adjusted to learning how to move again. It’s about pace, you have to be quick.

  1. MB: What makes you excited about this season?

CD: Change is always exciting. There’s more opportunity and a great chance to learn from someone else.

FYI: the Tips were at the AquaSox game spreading hockey (and, really, PNW) love. Both coaches delivered some solid tosses.

 

Reminder: training camp moves to the big ice inside XFINITY Arena on Friday. First matchup: a little past 8am.

Get your coffee ready.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently is entering his third season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 13th in the game.  Tweet at him here.

CAMP ENTRY: Hello, Next Chapter.


Check-in day is almost like the first day of school.

There are smiles, handshakes, “bro hugs,” and endless “how was your summer” chat.

It’s not so awkward when you see familiar faces. It’s even more energizing when you see a new face you’ve been told about, or you hear about.

Beginning Thursday, the pieces will be in place for everything to start coming together on the 15th season of Everett Silvertips hockey.

Setting out to defend their U.S. Division title with deeper goals in mind (see below interview), the Silvertips have a fresh approach at the top of the coaching chain in newcomer Dennis Williams. There will be a familiar, deep, and convincing voice in assistant coach Mitch Love.

How will things line up for this season? It’s unfair in late August to make a prediction. But when you have a bulk of your lineup returning (older, bigger, and wiser) and goaltender Carter Hart back, you always have a chance.

So, here’s to the clean sheet of ice and clean sheet of artistic design that begins to receive texture on day 1 of training camp.

Observations:

  • Defenseman Kyle Walker, signed as a listed player last fall, has bulked up to roughly “6-foot-3 and 210 pounds” by his own accord.
  • Connor Dewar, energized off a trip to Toronto Maple Leafs development camp, added 10 more pounds of muscle.
  • Orrin Centazzo is back on ice and 100 percent after Kolby Johnson’s high hit in Prince Albert ended his season in February.
  • There are now two players with NHL father-son bloodlines either in camp as signed, or drafted with the Tips: Riley Sutter (Ron), and prospect Brayden Morrison (Brendan). FYI: Brendan, a great chat in the hallway, is now 42 and still looks like he can center an NHL top line.
  • If you’re coming to Tips training camp: 1) expect to see rosters around the rink by the first scrimmage at 11am. There’s continuous shuffling, reason we’re told they aren’t available until the 11th hour. 2) Head to XFINITY Community Ice Rink for the Thursday scrimmages. As of now, the rest of camp will be hosted inside XFINITY Arena starting Friday.

Expected to play a critical role as a 20-year old, Matt Fonteyne is as “homegrown” as they come. I stopped him in the hallway:

  1. MIKE BENTON: Talk to me, how was your summer?

MATT FONTEYNE: Really good, had a good summer back home (in Wetaskawin, Alberta). Hung out with family and friends. It’s good to be back.

  1. MB: How bigger are you and how stronger are you?

MF: I changed up my workout routines this year and tried focusing on quickness, speed, and explosiveness. I feel good.

  1. MB: How much does that provide a renewed feeling with you, Patrick Bajkov, and Kevin Davis returning?

MF: We had one of the youngest teams in the league last year – third youngest in the west. So we have a good core group back and a lot of young guys who looked good today. When you have Carter Hart in net it helps  you win games. Coming back this year, we’re really excited for what the season holds.

  1. MB: What made you excited about what you saw out of Bajkov?

MF: He had a breakout year last year – then Dominic Zwerger helped both of us from on the ice and off the ice. We tried to pick up as much from him, because he’s like a pro on and off the ice. Patty and I will try to build on that this season.

  1. MB: What is it about Zwerger’s habits in detail that help you?

MF: I’d say that he was in the league for so long. And now he’s playing with pros in Europe. He loves what he’s doing. He has fun on the ice which leads to being creative. Whenever you get to play with a guy like that it really helps you and he’s a friend of mine now.

  1. MB: What kind of goals have you set this year?

MF: I’d say going further than the second round and building to the Conference Final or WHL Finals. When you build for team goals, individuals are going to have success. When the team does well, all of our young guys and veterans will do well.

  1. MB: Who has better hair on this team other than Montana Onyebuchi?

MF: I’d say Wyatte (Wylie). He’s been grooming it all summer and preparing for team pictures today. But it’s pretty hard to beat (Onyebuchi). He’s got a pretty good head of hair going on.

Day 1, training camp. ⚠️ Montana Onyebuchi swag alert. ⚠️

A post shared by Mike Benton 🎙 (@bentononthemic) on

 

  1. What was the first chat like with Dennis Williams?

MF: Really good and casual. He’s great and easy to talk to. So I’m excited to see more of his kind of coaching style and how we’ll play with it this year.

Let’s get it going.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently is entering his third season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 13th in the game.  Tweet at him here.

The Nashville Predators and Their Fans Are Supposed to Bring Us Joy.


I start out with this disclaimer: aside from a mentor in the broadcast booth and a friend in the front office, I have no stake in the horse race.

That being said, let’s face it: the Nashville Predators have fans. And they don’t just have fans. They have rowdy fans.

They have creative fans.

They have fans designed to bring us joy.

They have fans to inspire us.

They are here to get people, who usually don’t talk about the game, to talk about it.

So, what joy we’re experiencing in this Stanley Cup Final, because of Nashville.

Do they have 50 years of history? A conga line of “Who’s Who?” A place in two of the longest games in hockey history?

Nope. But they’ve been around for nearly 20 years, have one of the game’s most electrifying and recognizable stars (who understands the word, “spotlight”), and play in the entertainment capital of “country.” There’s a reason people in the business refer to it as, “Nash Vegas.”

Bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, sporting events are “entertainment.” They get it.

Please, let’s spare the dreaded “B” word for them (it ends with something that rhymes with “lagon”). A decade ago, they saved the franchise from relocation.

Their chants are part creativity, part savage, part volume. They are a gas. It sounds like a college basketball game, where student sections are in your ear from start to finish and so ruthlessly do their homework on the opposing players for taunt material. Quite frankly, it’s neat.

“But are they hitching up the ol’ bandwagon? But do other teams have outdoor gatherings like nearby Bridgestone Arena? But, but don’t they have any ‘respect’?”

Answers: no, yes, and definitely yes. Their moment has been nearly brewing for 20 years (think of where teams like the Kings, Blues, and Penguins were around 1986-87). What Nashville is doing along it’s row of establishments is like a block party that doesn’t know what time it ends. And as far as “respect”? The only thing that has breached the ice surface was a former aquatic life form thrown from human hands. I think we’ve seen this movie before.

They have the country music and entertainment world in their face, and talking about them. They have a Hall of Famer and TV analyst from another sport crashing their party and talking about them (and the sport in general).

And in general, people outside of the diehard hockey bubble are finding hockey “interesting.”

It’s time to embrace their dialect on the game, if they haven’t been embraced already.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently completed his second season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 12th in the game.  Tweet at him here.

 

The Dennis Williams Era Started With a Lot of Coffee. And Soundbytes.


At approximately 6:35 a.m., I walked into XFINITY Arena prepared to embrace the launch of the Everett Silvertips / Dennis Williams era. Dan Todoroff, the organization’s big wheel in charge of day-to-day operations, just sat down at his desk as we eventually tag teamed a helping hand for King 5’s unfolding of the Tips 17-18 story (guest starring Mitch Love, and Lincoln).

Ask me how it was like after that? A blur. Coffee (a ton of it, too), station-to-station duties, testing of a radio line to make sure Fox Sports 1380 had no “gremlins” interfering with live coverage, and a cordial hello to Jesse Geleynse, Nick Patterson, Jose Moreno, Q13 Fox,  loyal Tips ticket buyers, etc …

Flash forward to 2:35pm: news conference over. The whirlwind slowed down to 3rd gear.

Flash forward to 4:35pm: the Dennis Williams / Mike Benton / Fish “official exclusive first conversation” was over. The whirlwind officially came to a state of calm.

After going home to play Dad and enjoy dinner with family, you bet there was a 15-minute nap involved.

In between, I had my first words with Dennis Williams, aka “Willie” (still need a refresher? click here and here). As the 5th “full time” head coach in Tips history, he enters with a win percentage a shade below .700 in the last seven seasons, an NAHL championship, and the torch taker which includes a burning flame of five U.S. Division titles.

The first five questions, in what will be a part of many conversations between us:

  1. MIKE BENTON: What defines your core values?

    DENNIS WILLIAMS: When you’re trying to build a championship hockey club, you have to put emphasis on character of each player. Knowing the players coming back from this past season, and what Garry Davidson and his staff has done, it’s set the table for a successful season.

  2. MB: What excites you about taking a job like this?

    DW: It’s been a job, when I joined CSH seven years ago, (that’s categorized as) a dream job. Now to have the opportunity to come to Everett, bring family, and be a part of the Pacific Northwest – knowing it’s absolutely gorgeous – my kids are excited. I’m excited to get going and give the fans a great product to cheer for.

  3. MB: Is it fair to start defining goals yet for this season?

    DW: I think right now i’m just trying to grasp everything and get a handle on all the faces and names I’ve met over the last few days. First thing’s first, I want to reach out to all the returning players and draft picks. From there, we’ll get planning going for the summer.

  4. MB: What’s it mean to coach the Silvertips and coach in the WHL?

    DW: It’s a great honor. I said this year is a gem and it’s a jewel program to coach. And to be the coach here, it doesn’t come lightly. It comes with high expectations and i’m looking forward to coming in and helping do our best to win not only championships, but get this club to the Memorial Cup and eventually hoist it.

  5. MB: Playing style – what do you like, what do you prefer, what do you see out of this team moving ahead?

    DW: Like anything in this day, it’s an evolution and (signaling) a change in hockey. We want to focus on playing the game with speed, playing with intensity, and generating as much offense as possible. It’s getting harder and harder.

    But our focus is working on the skill sets of our players, helping them continue to get better, and bring the intensity. That has to come from us as a coaching staff. We have to set the bar each day. I’m looking forward to it. I have to wait 90 days until these guys get here again. Every day will be like the 24th of December – I’ll have to keep waiting and waiting. Then we can get on the ice here.

Williams is still technically transitioning from Bloomington, where his family is still packing up an old house and his daughters are completing their year of school. Look out for more on Monday’s big day in The Everett Herald, Q13 Fox, KOMO, King5, and The Barbershop Show (KJR).

“The 25th of December” is one day closer.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently completed his second season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 12th in the game.  Tweet at him here.

Phone Call, It’s Mirco Mueller


As a first round pick by the San Jose Sharks in the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft, defenseman Mirco Mueller is part of a master plan.

That master plan: successfully hand off the torch from the bearers such as Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Paul Martin – all who have left their 20’s in the rear view mirror.

As recently as today, Sharks assistant general manager Joe Will told CSN Bay Area of the master plan to accumulate players as early as 2013, when Mueller (who’s furnished 20 points in 62 games for the young San Jose Barracuda followed by four assists in 10 AHL playoff games) was the Sharks first pick off the board. Since then, the Sharks drafted 24 players in the span of three drafts (2013-15).

Mueller put himself in position by blossoming his game on the Silvertips blueline under the watchful eye of assistant coach Mitch Love, who handles the Tips d-men. Mueller’s transition from Switzerland, his draft year, delivered 31 points in 63 games, followed up by a 27 point campaign in 60 games in 2013-14.

Mueller is one of 17 ‘Tips who have made their NHL debut since Everett’s inaugural season in 2003-04.

Mueller still texts with Love, engages in conversation with WHL alumni, and misses Everett. Mueller spoke on Wednesday afternoon over the phone, with the Barracuda preparing for their Conference Final showdown against the Grand Rapids Griffins:

  1. MIKE BENTON: What surprised you about this season?

MIRCO MUELLER: I don’t know. It was a season that I really didn’t know what to expect. We had a lot of new and young guys come in. nobody knew what to expect but I think we’ve been playing good hockey all season long and carry it into the playoffs and into our first two rounds. Hopefully we can keep going.

  1. MB: What kind of a player has (San Jose head coach) Roy Sommer made you?

MM: Tough to say. I think I’m still the same player as I was back in Everett. I just got better. My whole game kind of evolved and obviously more this year with the team having success, especially in the playoffs. But we’re not content.

  1. MB: How tough is Grand Rapids?

MM: We’ve only played them twice this year but they’re a similar team like us. They play with a lot of speed, a lot of skill and it’ll be a great series between two great teams. I’m excited for it to start.

  1. MB: You get a kick out of seeing WHL faces now in the AHL?

MM: Yeah, definitely.  We’ve had a lot of new guys this year and a lot of more WHL guys – more than what I’ve seen before in San Jose – guys like (Adam) Helewka, (Rourke) Chartier, (Jon) Martin – there are some guys I remember from the U.S. Division and B.C. Division. It’s definitely fun and we talk about the junior days and see which guys know which coaches. It’s funny how small the hockey world is.

  1. MB: What did playing in the WHL do to prepare you for the pros?

MM: The biggest thing is the amount of games and the intensity you play with in the WHL. The travel makes you be able to handle it much better, once you move on. So much where you can just worry about your game and nothing else going on. It was a great experience for me playing (in Everett) for two years.

  1. MB: Person from Everett you text from the most?

MM: Probably Brayden Low and Ben Betker. With Ben, we played against each other (Betker in Bakersfield) quite a bit.

  1. MB: How much of a difference did Mitch Love make in your game as a defenseman?

MM: He made a big difference. He is a coach who hasn’t been retired that long and has been around the modern day era, playing in the AHL previously. We’ve always had a good relationship and nowadays we shoot texts back and forth.

  1. MB: What do you miss most about Everett?

MM: The whole area. I really enjoyed living there. The guys around the rink, the fans, the great atmosphere to play in, even my billets. We try to check in every now and then. The whole place is really comfortable and it’s a great place to play in the Western Hockey League.

The Barracuda, aiming for their first trip to the Calder Cup Final, open Game 1 of the Conference Finals this Saturday against Grand Rapids at SAP Center (6:00 p.m.).

 

 

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently completed his second season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 12th in the game.  Tweet at him here.

Hot Hot Heat


The Stockton Heat delivered a pulsating win for the ages – granted, it even kind of felt like first round vs. Las Vegas, 2013 – Sunday night in a 5-3 victory over San Jose in Game 4 of their first round series which included a blitz of three unanswered goals in the third period (sound familiar?).

Tuesday night will be the “do or die” game 5 at SAP Center, with the winner advancing to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs against the winner of the Ontario Reign / San Diego Gulls tilt. That’s the beauty of playoff hockey: the thrill of the “clean slate” in elimination games brings on all the feels/goosebumps/anxiety we embrace.

Everett Silvertips stick tap: alumnus and defenseman Mirco Mueller, with a pair of assists and a +1 rating in four games from the blue line for the Cuda. Trainer Marc Paquet is currently in his second season managing the bumps and bruises of the Heat, and in his third season as a part of the Calgary Flames organization. Considering he’s the king of all care-taking in a space no more than a center ice dump-in length from my old office space, that’s a cool six degrees of separation.

I’ve got a lot of ties back to the Northern California area. As my career began in Stockton with the genesis of professional hockey in the Thunder, my eight years there (2005-13) tied to the meeting of my wife, Amy in nearby Modesto. A cornucopia of family and friends still reside in Stockton, and in surrounding areas. So, it’s hard to ignore a series that’s brewing to be a classic.

While the players change, perhaps the mystique remains? The Thunder went 7-3 all-time in games where they forced elimination, and 2-1 on the Game 7 stage (the first round is a best-of-five, so we treat it like a “Game 7”).

Their last game 7? The year of 2013 A.D. … Stockton 5 – Las Vegas 3. First round. That was one game after the Thunder forced Game 7 with five electrifying third period goals to complete a game 6 comeback at home.

We remember how far they got in that playoff run.

Stick taps for you and cheers to more history in the making, 209.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently completed his second season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 12th in the game.  Tweet at him here.

My Moments, Your Moments.


As previously penned in a previous piece (think we have used our quota of letter “P’s” for one sentence now), the end of the season calls typically dictates our brain, emotion, thought pattern and keyboards as to “what really happened.”

Granted: it means you may be peacefully reflective on a season where not many people predicted the Tips to do great things. You may be upset and frustrated with how this season ended.

Quite alright.

For a Silvertips team that breached the 100 point mark for the second time in franchise history, surpassed 40 wins, and won a staggering fifth division banner in 14 seasons in spite of a young and (literally and figuratively) “green” squad, we all share a cornucopia of moments to pick from.

My top five moments (heads up: #1 is lengthy, but for good reason), if you don’t mind reading the reflection:

  1. FIVE OVERTIMES, WINNER BY BABYCH, MAKING HISTORY: Victoria on the day/night of April 2 will be one we’ll never forget. The Tips 3-2 win in five overtimes set a new CHL record for longest game ever, opened the door for the second round, and marked the fourth longest game in North American hockey history (they were seconds away from surpassing Philly / Pittsburgh in the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs). People have asked me, “what’s it like calling five overtimes?”

    I’ll give you one simple answer: thrilling, and exhausting.

    My anticipation grew with the end of each OT period. I began to think, “how am I going to appropriately articulate this no matter what team wins?” I also began to run out of liquids. The press box ran out of water by the end of the second overtime. My wife and son were on the trip (an added bonus, thanks to the boss for the green light) and after repeated visits to the booth between overtimes, had to bail after OT three (our dinner plans obliterated, so they went out for Wendy’s instead, so we could eat before the ferry — more on that in a bit). With pacing of voice inflection and diction into the fourth and fifth OT, things finally came to a summit on the Babych goal, that’ll forever be a  part of my top collection of calls.

    After the sign-off to the postgame show: I shook hands with Marlon Martens and the Victoria crew in the home booth, then literally plopped to the ground exhausted, headset still attached (they asked if I was alright, I joked in pseudo-psychosis that I was making a snow angel).

    I signed off and had a grand total of 45 minutes to: pack, wrap up postgame media duties, rush to the family SUV, and still drive 30 minutes to the nearest ferry terminal to make it on time for a 9:00pm departure. No chance.

    Packing up, then several bear hugs with the Tips as we crossed paths in the hallway, were followed by a stroll past the Victoria dressing room area where 100 fans were mourning the end of the Royals season, while Dave Lowry and several players still graciously gave posthumous interviews ending each in grateful applause. The scene was surreal. Meanwhile, my wife and I had an exhausted two-year old son on our hands, already crashed and burning in his car seat (parents: you know how the kiddos get when they’re tired), so we cut our schedule losses and spent one more night back at the hotel. After we put our son to bed, Amy and I finally were able to indulge in the tastiest history-influenced, five-overtime dinner ever: cold Wendy’s Chicken Wraps off the bathroom counter while our son slept in the portable crib of his quiet corner in hotel bedroom (and every bite was worth it). Silver lining: my wife is a fourth grade teacher, the next day was the beginning of spring break, and my boss said “no need to come into the office”. Waking up at 7am to the crystal-clear skies of Victoria next morning, explaining the whole scene on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, and taking a gradual amount of time to get back felt so good.

    (PS, I saved nearly everything – notes, scoresheets, etc. from the press box / booth that night. Plans are underway to turn that into a wall relic of some sorts for the office or press box at XFINITY Arena).

  2. FINISH ‘EM OFF, U.S. DIVISION STYLE: Two weekends prior, the Tips (and all of us) woke up Saturday morning in a different country. By 4:45pm, we were finally back home but had to get into the home digs “road game style” to face the Victoria Royals in the second game of a “home and home” series. It wasn’t just the fact it was Fan Appreciation Night: a Tips win paired with a Seattle loss meant the 2016-17 U.S. Division title belonged forever into the rafters of XFINITY Arena. Five hours later after a dizzying 5-2 win, paired with Portland’s win in Kent 45 minutes south, downtown Everett was in bedlam with the Tips celebrating on the ice and nearly 8,000 fans in party mode. I took a deep breath and long look while on the ice, seconds before the postgame awards ceremony. Downtown Everett was goosebumps city.
  3. LETTING ‘ER RIP IN REGINA: You want a litmus test? Here’s one: with the struggling Silvertips finding a second wind on the treacherous path of the East Division swing, they won five of six games. The signature win, 4-2 at Brandt Centre over the lethal Regina Pats, delivered: an assist in Sean Richards’ return, the Tips first win in Regina since Dec. 7, 2010, and an extinguishing of the Pats’ 11-game winning streak before 5,400 fans in what was a great looking midweek environment. Simply put: this was a stern test to answer “ok, how real are the Tips?” The question was answered in resounding fashion (the trip also began the “suit / sweater combo” fad … after this win, I wasn’t letting go).
  4. COMING OUT SWINGING: February 26 at ShoWare Center: the Tips were beaten, and bean soundly in a 6-1 massacre. You figured they really had to be ready after Keegan Kolesar called it the “biggest game of the season.” Good news: they had a do-over, and a chance to turn tables one weekend later. In downtown Everett, they turned the tables, then flipped it on the Thunderbirds. One 4-2 win later before a sellout crowd of 8,249, the Tips outshot their rivals from Kent 40-17, built a lead as big as 3-0 in the first period, and essentially never looked back. The Tips and T-Birds would teeter between first and second place over the last two weeks of the season, but the Tips had games in hand (which, they took full advantage of), and this was the win that perhaps sent the U.S. Division title chase into a permanent positive course.
  5. STARING IN THE EYE OF THE TIGER: Perhaps the first statement making win at home for the Tips was Dec. 2, in a 4-3 win over a Medicine Hat Tigers squad that offensively resembled a buzzsaw. Averaging over four goals per game and en route to a 50-win season under Shaun Clouston (most since the 06-07 championship season under Willie Desjardins), the Tips hacksawed Medicine Hat’s high octane set-up and enjoyed their only hat trick of the season: Patrick Bajkov’s natural delight which included a record setting two goals in 15 seconds.

Honorable mention: Teddy Bear Toss – for everything. The goal (scored lated in the second period), Tuulola’s reaction, then the always-goosebumps inducing theatre of fur flying on the ice made for an amazing moment. 

Let’s hear yours (thanks friends, via Facebook, Twitter, and blog comments). When you’re done reading this, soak it all in, and savor for next season:

(De Ann Argle, BLOG COMMENTS): As much as I would love to say that the 5 OT game killed our 7:00 PM ferry reservation we had no choice but to leave after the 2nd OT period. We frantically (those not driving) searching for a way to listen to the rest of the game on the radio… that is not one of my favorite moments. The one that sticks out the most is this last season on the Monday afternoon game (drawing a blank on which team we played) but… The puck was down in our (ice box side) end of the ice and Foote (I believe) and Riley Sutter were jousting with each other and Foote came up under Riley’s stick and it flew out of his hands. Riley went and quickly grabbed his stick and got back in position and he did the same thing right back to Foote. What makes it so memorable and one of my most memorable moments is the look on Riley’s face after he looked at the ref to see if he was going to get called on it. Well the look of pure delight and a bit of revenge was awesome! I can still see it to this day!

(Twitter):

 

(Facebook – worth the click – the responses are really good): 

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently completed his second season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 12th in the game. Tweet at him here.

Those Magic Moments


One of the many reasons I appreciate sports is the opportunity to put anything in life aside for 2.5 hours a night to enjoy the simple unfolding of a story in the spirit of competition.

In other words, it traces back to a simple quote once heard from the late Howard Cosell:

“Sports is the toy department of life.”

We enjoy this game for many different reasons:

  1. The evolution of a hockey centerpiece in downtown (Everett is now 14 years relevant within).
  2. The opportunity to share with a friend, “I knew him when …” (Hamill/Mueller/Gudas/Juulsen?/Hart?)
  3. The surge of “good feelings” through your veins as you walk into XFINITY Arena with anticipation.
  4. Seeing friends from the seats you’ve come to know well over the years (I’m not shilling at all, but this happens a lot with season tickets).
  5. How different the game looks, feels, sounds, on an upgraded experience compared to just merely watching it on television. It’s that more vibrant, it’s that more vivid, it’s that more effervescent.

You may have more reasons why you enjoy this game. Or a moment from this past season that will stay with you forever.

I’ll always remember my first experience at an NHL game: 1993-94 at the Great Western Forum, behind the net, and watching Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings take on 18-year old Jason Arnott and the Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky scored his 803rd career goal that day. Arnott belted a slapper from the left circle for the game’s first goal.

I’ll always remember the 5 overtime record marathon: searching for word economy amidst a water shortage, feeling a surge through my body while delivering the goal call, and balancing a schedule that threatened killed the 9pm ferry that night … with my wife and son on the trip (more on that soon).

I shared mine, so I’d love to hear yours.

I want to reward your input.

I want to hear from you.

I’ve got a Carter Hart autographed hat on hand (trust me, he signed it right before my very eyes the day after the season ended) and will save that for a lucky friend who chimes in. How you do it:

  1. Comment below
  2. Tweet a reply to me from this story post
  3. Comment on the Tips Facebook page: we’ll have it posted there.

Your awesome answers coming later this week, in a “top moments of” post.

And as always, thanks for keeping in tune (and for listening!).

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently completed his second season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 12th in the game. Tweet at him here.