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:

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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.

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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.