Prior to the Pandemic
With some pretty good depth at both ends of the ice after several trades and the return of blueliner Jake Christiansen from the AHL, Everett was once again a legit contender to win the league and the team was in a back-and-forth battle for the US Division lead with the Portland Winterhawks during the final weeks of the campaign.
Like the B.C. Division champion Kamloops Blazers, the 19-4-0-0 Silvertips picked up right where they left off as they captured their fifth division banner in the last seven years. Their .826 point percentage in the shortened campaign was the best in franchise history, surpassing a .771 mark they had in the 2006-07 season.
After setting a team-best goals scored per game mark of 3.61 a year ago, the Silvertips surpassed that this season with an average of 3.95 markers. They also improved their goals against average per game from 2.25 a night to 1.95, which is just behind their franchise record of 1.91 that occurred two seasons ago.
- Cole Fonstad (16-18-34 in 23 games – One assist in two games with the Cleveland Monsters)
- Ethan Regnier (9-12-21 in 23 games)
- Hunter Campbell (9-4-13 in 23 games)
- Gage Goncalves (12-22-34 in 23 games – Tampa Bay Lightning Prospect)
- Jalen Price (1-2-3 in 19 games)
- Jackson Berezowski (7-14-21 in 23 games)
- Michal Gut (10-11-21 in 20 games for HC Banik Sokolov in the Czech Republic – 13-23-36 in 51 games for the Silvertips in 2019-20)
- Ryan Hofer (6-3-9 in 22 games)
- Kent Johnson (Unsigned 10th round pick in 2017 – 9-18-27 in 26 games for the Michigan Wolverines)
- Brendan Lee (2-4-6 in 17 games)
- Brayden Morrison (Unsigned 5th round pick in 2017 – 3-4-7 in eight games for the Okotoks Oilers – Committed to the Wisconsin Badgers)
- Austin Spiridakis (Unsigned 12th round pick in 2017 – 2-2-4 in 14 games for the Boston Jr. Bruins – Will play for the Nanaimo Clippers next season – Committed to the Quinnipiac Bobcats)
- Jacob Wright (9-6-15 in 23 games)
- Michael Abgrall (Edmonton’s unsigned 4th round pick in 2018 – 8-8-16 in 18 games for the Surrey Eagles – Committed to the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks)
- Nate Goodbrandson (7th round pick in 2018 – 0-0-0 in three games for the Steinbach Pistons – 25-35-60 in 47 games for the Winnipeg Under-18 Thrashers in 2019-20)
- Brendan Hunchak (0-0-0 in 12 games)
- Vincent Lamanna (Signed Listed Player – 0-1-1 in six games for the Bonnyville Pontiacs – 13-13-26 in 32 games for the Fort Saskatchewan Under-18 Rangers in 2019-20)
- Beau Courtney (8th round pick in 2019 – 2-6-8 in 13 games for the Colorado Under-16 Thunderbirds)
- Max Graham (0-2-2 in 18 games)
- Ben Hemmerling (3-4-7 in 22 games)
- Matthew Ng (1-0-1 in 5 games)
- Austin Roest (3-5-8 in 23 games)
Although Bryce Kindopp had aged out of the league and Ty Kolle was not one of the three overagers to come back this spring, the Silvertips still had many of the key pieces from last year’s side, which made them tough to stop when they got rolling offensively.
Former Prince Albert Raiders forward Cole Fonstad had a very strong final season in the WHL and should earn some pro opportunities, while Gage Goncalves showed that his breakout 2019-20 performance wasn’t a fluke and that he was worthy of being a second round pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in October.
Prince Albert’s Ethan Regnier, who was acquired at last year’s trade deadline from the Swift Current Broncos, also finished off his junior career in style and sophomore Jacob Wright boosted his numbers and should be one of the key players up front next year, along with fellow 2002-born forward Jackson Berezowski.
- Gianni Fairbrother (1-16-17 in 23 games – Montreal Canadiens Prospect)
- Zach Ashton (2-5-7 in 19 games)
- Dylan Anderson (1-5-6 in 23 games)
- Kasper Puutio (2-1-3 in 29 games for Karpat – 5-23-28 in 56 games for Swift Current and Everett in 2019-20 – Florida Panthers Draft Pick)
- Ronan Seeley (5-12-17 in 23 games – Carolina Hurricanes Draft Pick)
- Aidan Sutter (0-6-6 in 21 games)
- Ty Gibson (1-0-1 in 15 games)
- Brent Johnson (Unsigned 11th round pick in 2018 – 11-21-32 in 47 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede – Committed to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks)
- Brady Van Herk (0-0-0 in 3 games)
- Olen Zellweger (2-11-13 in 11 games)
- David Hejduk (Unsigned 9th round pick in 2019 – 0-0-0 in eight games for the Colorado Under-16 Thunderbirds – 3-8-11 in 20 games for the Colorado Under-15 Thunderbirds in 2019-20 – Will play for the Wenatchee Wild next season – Committed to the Harvard Crimson)
Despite the graduations of Christiansen and Wyatt Wylie to the AHL and the fact that Kasper Puutio elected to stay in Europe, the Silvertips defence didn’t miss a beat, thanks in large part to the return of signed Montreal Canadiens prospect Gianni Fairbrother for his final season in the WHL.
Fairbrother ended up finishing in a tie for the defensive scoring lead with Ronan Seeley, who was a seventh round pick by the Carolina Hurricanes last fall and should earn a pro contract next year if he keeps up his strong play on the backend.
The real breakout performer for the team though was Olen Zellweger. After posting 12 points in 58 games as a rookie, the Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. product had 13 points in 11 games this year before putting up eight points in seven games for Canada’s gold medal squad at the World Under-18’s. He’s currently projected to be a second round pick in July’s NHL Draft and he might prove to be a steal for whoever selects him.
- Dustin Wolf (18-3-0 with a 1.80 GAA, a .940 save percentage and four shutouts – Calgary Flames Prospect)
- Braden Holt (1-1-0 with a 2.75 GAA, an .862 save percentage and zero shutouts)
- Evan May (11th round pick in 2019 – Played five minutes of the third period on May 8th against Spokane – 2-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA, a .922 save percentage and one shutout for the North Island Under-18 Silvertips – 7-11-2 with a 3.59 GAA, an unknown save percentage and two shutouts for the Under-18 Silvertips in 2019-20)
Like Carter Hart before him, the only thing that was missing from Dustin Wolf’s mantle from his time with the Silvertips was a WHL championship. Despite the pandemic putting a kibosh on that opportunity, Wolf didn’t let that get him down as the Calgary Flames prospect had another amazing year and worked himself into the conversation of the top netminders the league has seen after winning a second straight Del Wilson Memorial Trophy.
While he’s only played in 10 games over the last two years, Braden Holt appears to be the next man up in the Silvertips crease. The 17-year-old from Bozeman, Montana was a 12th round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft and got the chance to join the United States roster for the World Under-18’s, which limited his appearances in Everett to just a couple of games before he went to Texas.
It will be a new era for the Silvertips in more ways than one, as the club announced on May 20 that general manager Garry Davidson would not have his contract renewed, with a restructuring of the team’s hockey operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic being cited as the reason for the change.
Head coach Dennis Williams will be taking on the general manager role on an interim basis and head scout Mike Fraser has been promoted to director of player personnel, but it will take quite a while for people to get used to the team being built by someone other than Davidson, who has gone on to join the Calgary Hitmen as their director of player personnel.
The Silvertips lineup will also have a much different look to it. Fonstad, Regnier and Fairbrother are all aging out of the league, Goncalves and Wolf are starting their pro careers and imports Puutio and Michal Gut are currently slated to stay in Europe.
While Seeley and Zellweger are a heck of a one-two punch on defence, the goaltending is unproven at this stage and the offence will need Wright and Berezowski to lead the way as the youngsters move into bigger roles and try to replace those that are moving on.
Although they do have the second overall pick in next week’s CHL Import Draft, the Silvertips are lacking selections for the WHL Prospect Draft in December. While they currently posses the 20th overall pick in the first round, their only other selection in the first five rounds is a third round pick they got from Seattle for goaltender Blake Lyda in May 2019. Things aren’t rosy for 2022 as well, with only a first and fifth round pick at their disposal.
Having never missed the playoffs since entering the league in 2003, it’s foolish to bet against Everett being in the post-season. However, their recent run of being a legit title threat might be coming to an end.