MONDAY MATTERS: Whew. We’re Back (and in first place).


QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Common sense is like deodorant. The people who need it most never use it.”
– Unknown

Returning from the road, all 2,600+ miles of it, delivered four road wins (five overall), four cities, 44 (possible) energy drinks/shots/cups of coffee, and numbers falling out the ears by the time the bus returned to downtown Everett on Sunday.

I know many used the word “tired” on Sunday, so many like me were up to doing a deluxe face plant into the pillow of our own beds Sunday night. Oh the rewards, for landing into first place in the U.S. Division.

So here’s where we are with the Silvertips holding first place through 13 games:

  • DEPTH: The Silvertips just got Eetu Tuulola (eight games), and Devon Skoleski (five games) back into the lineup. While they were gone, Dominic Zwerger put up a 10-game point streak (still active), longest in the WHL. Noah Juulsen and Patrick Bajkov are over a point per game, each.
  • DEPTH IN THE PIPELINE: Six Silvertips prospects suited up in the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup. Two rock stars (Ethan Browne, Dylan Holloway) picked up a gold medal with Team Alberta. Both were nearly at a point per game in the tournament, and both scored in the championship game. I’d say the future is bright.
  • ANOTHER ONE IN THE WALL: Shane Harper’s NHL debut meant strong significance: he’s #16 in 14 years to graduate from the Tips and make the NHL. It means, proof positive, dreams to come true – even if you’re coming into WHL training camp as an undrafted, and listed player and miss a chance to be drafted by an NHL team. I never had the privilege to watch Shane Harper live, but heard the accounts of his work ethic, warm personality and freakish strength. The pieces fell into place. Oh and by the way, we’ll have more on him during this week’s broadcasts, including his first two NHL goals – both in the “legit” category.
  • GONE, AND CERTAINLY NOT FORGOTTEN: Hockey Canada’s World U17 Hockey Challenge fires up this Thursday in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, another display case for an “all star” type of setting for the young prospects of the CHL. With Two Silvertips representing in the event (Mitch Love, assistant coach and Brett Kemp, forward), they’ll be answering the nation’s call for the next several days. Expect them back after November 5.

    That will also induce a necessary shuffle in the Silvertips lineup (which, we’re waiting patiently on for the word by next game, on Thursday) and duties within the coaching ranks. Coverage is available on hockeycanada.ca/WU17 all tournament long, while TSN will provide telecast coverage starting with the semifinal games. More info here.

  • NEXT UP: Silvertips and Tri-City Americans, in a rare Thursday night 7:05pm game (get your tickets here, by the way, starting at just $8). A rematch with Victoria follows on Saturday, starting at 7:05 pm as well in downtown Everett. While that’ll be an attractive evening for memorabilia hunters at the gate (Silvertips hats will be given away free to the first several hundred fans), it’ll also be a delicious rematch after the Silvertips opened the series with a 3-1 win last Saturday (one night after Victoria overwhelmed Swift Current, 9-2).
  • RADIO: You know where to find us for all games this week, in addition to Tuesday night’s Hockey Show – Fox Sports 1380. Noah Juulsen and Patrick Bajkov will join me (and hopefully you) on Tuesday night at Sporty’s, so drop in, say hello, and fill up on $1 tacos. Because, you can never say “no” to tacos. Or a Juulsen & Bajkov handshake.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton is in 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.

MONDAY MATTERS: Bus Play-by-Play

The hockey season is long. Sometimes, too long (especially if you take every day seriously, like life or death). You need some entertainment in your life.

So, naturally, when on the road and in need of entertainment, it’s routine to pick the “I’m here for the entertainment guy,” the radio guy.

This happened last Thursday, en route to Spokane. In the middle of four games in five days (amazingly, the Silvertips channeling unheard-of energy to sweep the week), we’re weary. With my work done in preparation for Friday, I tuned into the MLB stat cast of the historic Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals NLDS “winner take all” game five.

Backtracking: with part of my roots tracing to the Pacific Northwest, I have a soft spot for the Seattle Mariners. But growing up for years in California, I bled Dodger blue. And stated before, obviously adopted Vin Scully as a role model. As this became natural education for our coaching staff over time, a nickname developed.

Sometimes, Kevin Constantine calls me “Vince” (long for “Vin”).

“Hey Vince! Can you help with this scoring change?”

 With our bus 25 minutes away from completing the 12-hour odyssey from Prince George to Spokane, the Dodgers headed to the ninth inning in the epic elimination game, sending Kenley Jansen to close the deal in his third inning of work. Clayton Kershaw (as many of you know the ending to this one) was in the bullpen.

“Hey Vince! Call play-by-play for us on the bus.”

 So, my voice belted over the bus for entertainment. As the first “baseball call” for me in roughly five years (my last was a Stockton Ports game), I channeled the inner Vin Scully for the final inning, delivering a half-serious call (“Jansen toes the rubber, glares in … and the strike two pitch is SWUNG ONNNNN AND MISSED!”) and half of comedy relief (Here comes Jayson Werth … fully bearded with a bat in one hand, beard trimmer in the other”).

Of course, the bus pulls in right when Kershaw is summoned. We all help unload the goods, which take about 10 minutes – enough to miss the high drama of Daniel Murphy’s pop out. But stepping back on the bus, the coaches beat me, and decided to have a little bit of fun …

“Uh oh Vince, game winner. Homer. Un-bee-lie-vable.”

And of course, I’m half laughing at them (“come on, stop it”) and half secretly checking Twitter for updates, nervously. I admit for a second, Mitch Love had me.

Back to the updates. Kershaw delivers the knockout blow: a two-strike curveball to Wilmer Difo.

“GOT HIM! And to the contrary, the Dodgers are headed to Chicago!”

I made sure the coaches heard that one.

Back to Spokane for this one. Tomorrow, 7:05pm. Items worth noting:

  • “Next man up”: the Silvertips stretch of four wins in five days is impressive, considering the crunch of schedule. Then, consider they had no Eetu Tuulola. Then, consider they lost both Matt Fonteyne and Lucas Skrumeda after Tuesday. Then, consider they lost Devon Skoleski and Brian King after Friday. Then, consider they had a full lineup by Saturday, but had to ask defenseman Mackenzie Dwyer to play out of position at center (by the way, he stole the puck off a breakout pass and delivered a juicy backdoor feed in the third period to Orrin Centazzo which nearly iced the game).

Voila, the Silvertips in the four-in-five stretch:

  • Won all four games
  • Rallied from a third period deficit in one of them (Friday’s OT win at Spokane)
  • Only trailed for a grand total of 4:29
  • Scored 17 goals
  • Outscored their opposition 17-8
  • Went 7-of-23 (30.4%) on the power play

Yeah, that’s not bad.

  • Helping those in need: Silvertips fans and Pink The Rink generated over $81,000 to help treat and prevent breast cancer, shipped along to Providence Medical Center in Everett. By count, according an organizational resource, the Silvertips also combined with building and external organizational partners to raise over a staggering $163,000 total from the event.

That’s not bad.

  • Radio intel: because it’s game on Tuesday night in Spokane, there’s no Silvertips Hockey Show again this week (things will pick up again next Tuesday at Sporty’s). This week, you have every game on Fox Sports 1380. You’re also reminded that we take your questions EACH GAME on the Tips App, via Tips Talk. We’ll invite you into the booth now for road games, so all you have to do is download the Tips App and enter your question via the Tips Talk news button. You get promo code points too.

That’s not bad.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton is in 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.

MONDAY MATTERS: That Vinning Feeling

MONDAY MATTERS: That Vinning Feeling

A pleasant good evening wherever you may be.

Kid you not: setting up shop at Toyota Center yesterday, this came across my phone at 4pm. I almost cried in the booth.

This is my inspiration, this is the Uncle I never had, and this is my role model.

So, with music blasting and the shred of skates during pregame warmups, as we went on the air – I  felt appropriate to lead off the pregame show with this. Hope you didn’t mind.

If you’re getting the feeling that reading this blog, and ingesting Vin Scully tributes is starting to feel like drinking water from a fire hydrant, my apologies. And I swear, this will be the last time (at least for now) that we’ll wander off topic for this tribute.  So, thanks for bearing with me in the last few weeks as the heart was poured, and the soul was filled.

Admittedly, the emotions are still in “reconciling” mode that my Commentator-in-Chief has jockeyed into the sunset. However, I don’t cry because it’s over. Indeed, I smile because it happened.

THE TOP FIVE:

  1. IT’S A START: The Silvertips were a goal away from their first 4-0-0-0 start since the Craig Hartsburg era. While Michael Rasmussen’s goal prevented that reality, seven of eight possible points are nothing to grimace over – especially given the fact they’ve played all but one game on the road, are second in fewest goals allowed (2.0), got 17 players with a point or more already, and Carter Hart has a .932 save percentage.
  1. “PLEASE PICK UP THE WHITE COURTESY PHONE”: For those tuning into the meat of Sunday’s game and noticing a rather grainy, static like texture to your audio experience, our apologies. And fear not. Without getting into excessive detail about how broadcasts work, building issues eliminated our ability to set up our equipment and transmit a signal properly. Thanks to Americans radio voice Craig West, and thanks to the Toyota Center crew, who helped troubleshoot for a temporary solution, although a rather routine one for a communication device: the telephone.That got us on the air. So for 2.5 hours, one side of my mouth attended to my headset (to record our game and also feed the WHL Live viewership), while the other side was busy with a phone mouthpiece to feed the radio beast. I felt like this guy. But we made it. And thank you for bearing with us (back to normal, expectedly, tomorrow for the hockey show).
  1. SPEAKING OF THE SHOW: In case you missed it, I better start hitting the treadmill. Mitch Love is a size 32 waist. I’m a 36. And it just so happens a dare made last Tuesday is now in effect that if we win the U.S. Division, I must wear Mitch Love’s white suit (brandished during the home opener, derisive of Colonel Sanders). Gulp.

  1. WELCOME TO THE CLUB, EETU: I just can’t get Eetu Tuulola’s goal out of my head from Sunday. Getting the elephant out of the room, his injury late in the second period eliminated his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame and forced a line shuffle all the way to the finish line. But when he returns, let’s remember he’s capable of high-octane goals like these. (00:25)

THE CALL (Fox Sports 1380 / Tips App)

 

  1. GIVING BACK: First major stop of the in-season “shake hands and kiss babies” tour was at Providence hospital today. Several Silvertips (mainly, those who had finished high school) trotted the hospital’s circuit to greet nurses (two we met who are rabid season ticket holders, so they were up for amazing conversation), adult age patients, and the cutest/most adorable little ones in the pediatric ward. Indeed, time well spent.

Talk with you tomorrow at Sporty’s.

Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton is in 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.