By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Comcast Arena occupies an important place in Cole Holowenko’s hockey career. So perhaps it’s appropriate that he now finds himself suiting up for the team that plays its home games there.
“I played my first exhibition game here when I was 15 against Tri-City when there was a tournament,” Holowenko, the Everett Silvertips’ new goaltender, recalled following Thursday’s practice. “I played against Chet Pickard. That was obviously a pretty overwhelming day for me. You never forget your first game, for sure.”
Now Holowenko is preparing to show the Comcast Arena crowd what he can do when the games count in the standings.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” Holowenko said about getting a chance to play for Everett. “It’s a nice city and the fans love you out here. It’s really a big treat and honor to play for Everett.”
Everett acquired Holowenko from the Prince Albert Raiders on Monday in exchange for defenseman Evan Morden and goaltender Andy Desautels. Holowenko, a 19-year-old from Penticton, B.C., spent last season as Prince Albert’s primary goaltender. He was brought in to give the Tips an experienced option to go along with Austin Lotz.
Holowenko said he didn’t have an inkling a trade was in the works. However, the writing may have been on the wall when the Raiders traded for overage goaltender Luke Siemens from Moose Jaw during the offseason. When Holowenko was informed of the trade Monday, he hit the road for Everett in a matter of hours, arriving in town Wednesday in advance of Saturday’s season opener against Prince George.
“I was pretty eager,” Holowenko said about his reaction to the trade. “I found out I was traded around noon that day and I wanted to come down here as soon as possible. I made it in and it’s been nothing but smiles since I’ve been here.
“I think I bring a little bit of leadership,” Holowenko added. “I’m a guy who comes out and battles and competes — and who likes to keep the puck out of the net, obviously. Hopefully I can give my team a chance to win every night.”
With Everett, Holowenko will be given the opportunity to fulfill his potential. The Chilliwack Bruins selected him 29th overall in the 2008 bantam draft, making him the second goaltender taken. Although he made his Western Hockey League debut as a 16-year-old in 2009, he was traded to Prince Albert in 2010 and didn’t crack the Raiders’ roster until last season.
Holowenko began last season sharing time with Eric Williams in Prince Albert’s net. But Holowenko took over the primary duties after Williams was traded to Spokane. Holowenko finished the season 13-26-1-1 with a 3.98 goals against average and .890 save percentage in 47 games.
Holowenko’s numbers may not be impressive, but they were affected by playing for the team that finished with the worst record in the league. Holowenko was just grateful for the opportunity to play.
“My rookie season I got a lot more starts than I expected,” he said. “That really helped my development, I think. Now I just want to come out here and battle for starts and pull out some wins for the boys.”
Holowenko lands in a situation in Everett similar to the one he began last season with Prince Albert. Tips general manager Garry Davidson said at the time of the trade that Holowenko and the 17-year-old Lotz would share the goaltending duties, with performance determining who plays.
“It’s a good situation,” Holowenko said. “I get to battle with a great young goaltender like Austin Lotz, he’s going to be a really good goalie in the Western Hockey League for a lot more years. I think it’s a pretty good situation for the two of us.”
Murray retains captaincy
As expected, Ryan Murray was named Everett’s captain, the Tips announced Thursday evening.
Murray, Everett’s star defenseman who is entering his 19-year-old season, was the team’s captain last season, when he had nine goals and 22 assists in 46 games en route to being selected second overall in the NHL draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Murray will remain captain until the NHL lockout concludes, at which point he’s expected to join the Blue Jackets.
Murray is just the second player in franchise history to be named captain at the beginning of consecutive seasons. Zack Dailey served as captain from 2008-10.
Forwards Ryan Harrison, Cody Fowlie and Manraj Hayer were named alternate captains.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog.