DAY 1 – ANGEL OF THE WINDS ARENA (Thursday, Aug. 23)
Well, did we all have a good offseason?
It was short, needless to say.
So short, it was the shortest in franchise history.
Since the Silvertips – entering this season as defending Western Conference champions – left for the calmer pastures of summer following the WHL Championship Series, to the point of getting back on ice, the short summer lasted a little under a minuscule 100 days. That’s a compact amount of time, say, if you’re Connor Dewar, Riley Sutter, Wyatte Wylie, or other Silvertips going through the NHL development camp process, competing in summer tournaments, or working to bulk up or get faster.
Hey, there’s not a lot of time to get bored.
For Silvertips fans, the short offseason is something of a treat. Hockey is back in the blink of an eye.
For day one of camp, here are five things from Thursday:
- What’s new: A.O.T.W. Arena and Silvertips home ice got a slight makeover during the offseason. A brand new, “NHL style” plexiglass system has been installed, accompanied by necessary dasherboard upgrades. The Silvertips (like several other teams) have long used tempered “seamless” glass for years – mainly along the side boards with more flexible plexiglass behind the net (where a majority of thunderous checks occur), but the current system in place strikes more of a balance to accommodate player safety, and maintain optimal sightlines for fans in the first few rows. The new system includes a curved “turnbuckle” beside the players bench, first introduced by the Vancouver Canucks seven years ago and later mandated for every NHL venue. It’s now standard across the WHL starting this season.
2. Dipping the toe in the water: Thursday introduced four games on the Silvertips training camp schedule, continuing Friday until a “scrimmage champion” is crowned by late Saturday afternoon in the Volunteer Cup. Team Blue rocketed out to a 5-0 victory in the early game, and the Red squad edge Team Grey, 4-2 by the end of the early afternoon game (of note: Dawson Butt, Riley Sutter, Jameson Murray, and Jake Christiansen each scored of the returning players), with promising 16-year old defenseman Dylan Anderson bagging a goal along with brother Carter. It’s premature to make conclusions on any prospect through Day 1, but the always insightful Nick Patterson offers a more concentrated look from The Herald.
(Of note, among the new faces – but with a familiar name – is overage defenseman Sahvan Khaira. Built like a tank at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and not too far off from brother Jujhar, Sahvan was on the other side only 3 months ago with Swift Current, battling the Silvertips for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. I asked Sahvan tongue in cheek, “but let’s be real, it isn’t that funny, is it?” He returned the reply with a slight grin, “no, no not at all.” The Khaira only live hours away in B.C., which means possibly more of their warm visits soon.)
3. Chat of the day: Riley Sutter, three months removed from WHL Championship Series experience and two months removed from the draft as a new Washington Capitals prospect. He entered last season fresh off a summer of rigid skating drills, and went right back to the well again this past offseason. His summer was a “whirlwind.” More below.
4. Guest coaches: A chance to give additional hockey minds of Silvertips hockey operations a chance to lead the way behind the bench, several Silvertips scouts and even a pair of NHL alumni are gracing the bench. Brendan Morrison, among many teams a famous Vancouver Canucks alumnus (remember the Naslund/Bertuzzi years?), is behind the bench for Team Red, while Pacific Northwest native Turner Stevenson (a Stanley Cup winner with New Jersey in 2003) is behind the bench for Team Blue and also smoothly runs the Silvertips Elite and U16 programs during the winter months. Amazingly, their careers overlapped and both involved the Devils, but they were never teammates.
5. Arena information: As a reminder, all scrimmages, including Saturday’s Rookie Game and Sunday’s Green vs. Grey Game are free. Doors will open 15 minutes before each scrimmage, and 45 minutes before the Rookie Game and the Sunday 1:30pm finale. A.O.T.W. Arena will offer Team Store accessibility for those in attendance looking for a shopping trip, while general admission seating is available in the lower bowl behind the team benches.
As I maneuver around from spot to spot, I hope to bump into you.
Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton is in his fourth season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 14th in the game. Tweet at him here.