As the Everett Silvertips prepare for another “three-in-three” (it’s a test of endurance, focus, and sleep patterns) this weekend, their 3-3-0-0 record has them currently fourth in the U.S. Division (tightly packed, mind you), but also just six games into a 68 game slate.
That’s hardly enough to judge a team for a week, let alone for a full season.
Remember where the Tips were towards Halloween, last season: 4-9-1-0. Remember where they finished: playing hockey into mid-May.
Here’s where we’re at, halfway to playing hockey again on Friday (after five days off again):
- Dustin Wolf has played in every minute of Tips action this season. He’s currently sixth in the WHL with a 1.68 goals-against-average and ninth with a .932 save percentage. For the questions on filling the shoes of Carter Hart, he’s off to a great start. Blake Lyda, who was impressive early on last season as an AP call-up, is also waiting in the wings.
- Defensively as a whole, the Tips are showing good numbers already: sixth in the WHL for goals against average (2.3) and lowest in the league for shots allowed (25.0). They’re fourth in penalty killing (86.2).
- No questions on the buy-in of the Silvertips captain. Well, really, as if you needed to question the buy-in of Connor Dewar? He’s leading the Tips with seven points in six games, has goals in four of the last five games, but also gave a pretty assertive answer in his usually confident, direct, but grounded tone of voice, to the dangers of players paying attention to personal stats:
“It’s the disease of ‘me’. It takes away from the team. Whenever you’re [getting consumed by statistics] it’s not good for you or anything.”
Dewar helped lead the Tips to the Western Conference title and then was drafted by Minnesota in the third round of the NHL Draft one month later. That quote was from last night on the Silvertips Hockey Show. I also asked him about the best player on the team, nobody is talking about:
“Bryce Kindopp. He does everything for us, everything so well. He doesn’t get a lot of credit.”
- Did you know: Kindopp hit the 20-goal mark last season for the first time in his career, and was one of seven Silvertips who did so. As a 19-year old this season, the challenge is on to look for more. He earned his second goal in as many nights last Saturday, a breakaway against Portland that unfortunately showed up as the only goal for the Tips in a 4-1 defeat (a game that was actually closer than the score indicated due to a pair of Joachim Blichfeld empty netters.)
I asked Kindopp about the breakaway goal, easy to unpack (a simple steal near the neutral zone, take-off, and deke) but also with complex layers of how the mental and physical side react:
“I don’t who it was, a defenseman or forward [it was forward Jake Gricius] was bringing it across the blueline and I was seeing myself ready to make a play and poke the puck. I think was lucky getting a breakaway. From there I just used my speed, saw an opening and shot it.”
Kindopp said it’s a play that unfolds, once he has the puck, resulting in a combo of movements that develop form plenty of skill-building the Tips find useful at the end of practice. It adds to the arsenal.
- Sean Richards update: in case you don’t see #15 in the next week and a half, he’s missing in action. The checking to the head penalty he was given (five minutes + game) at 14:02 of the third period last Friday resulted in a five-game suspension. He retroactively served his first game on Saturday vs. Portland, and is eligible to return during the six-game eastern swing, Oct. 21 at Regina.
- Up next: the Tips vs. Edmonton and Kamloops to end the four game homestand, then the start of the road stretch on Sunday at Moda Center – the last time the Tips were there in Game 4, this happened.
- Friday at 7pm (KKXA 1520 AM / 101.1 FM / Tips App)
- Saturday at 6:30pm (KRKO 1380 AM / 95.3 FM / Tips App)
- Sunday at 4:30pm (KRKO, same as above)
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.