By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Everett Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson spent the entire offseason seeking an experienced option at goaltender.
On Monday, it appears he finally found one who will stick.
Everett added experience in net when the Tips acquired goaltender Cole Holowenko from the Prince Albert Raiders 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. Davidson said Holowenko will share time in goal with Austin Lotz this season.
“We thought it was important to find someone with experience in the league at the goaltending end,” Davidson said. “This is something we’ve talked about for a long time. It’s such a critical position.”
Davidson had been staring at nothing but young and inexperienced options in goal. Kent Simpson, Everett’s No. 1 for two-plus seasons, is off to the professional ranks as a 20-year-old. The 17-year-old Lotz is the lone returner after appearing in just 17 games last season as a rookie.
The Tips attempted to address the experience issue in goal when they acquired the rights to overager Brandon Anderson from the Brandon Wheat Kings during the offseason. However, Anderson already had signed a professional contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals and is not expected to return to the Western Hockey League.
That left Lotz, along with 18-year-old rookie hopefuls Desautels and Troy Trombley as Everett’s options in goal. But now Everett has a goalie who’s experienced the rigors of being a WHL regular.
“Cole and Austin will carry the load together,” Davidson said. “Who will play will be based on performance. But Cole should be comfortable because he played a lot last season in Prince Albert.”
Holowenko was originally a second-round bantam draft pick by the Chilliwack Bruins in 2008. He broke into the WHL last season as an 18-year-old, going 13-26-1-1 with a 3.98 goals against average and .890 save percentage for a Prince Albert team that finished with the worst record in the league.
Holowenko became expendable in Prince Albert because of the Raiders’ offseason acquisition of overage goalie Luke Siemens, a former Silvertip, from Moose Jaw.
“He’s a guy who played almost 50 games last year,” Davidson said of Holowenko. “He had a decent year. He played on a team that didn’t have a great year, so I’m not sure his stats are very flattering. But he’s very committed and driven.”
In return the Tips gave up a veteran defenseman with two seasons of WHL experience and a goalie who spent three years on the verge of cracking Everett’s roster. Morden, a 19-year-old from Swan River, Manitoba, appeared in 111 games for Everett over the past two seasons. Last season he had three goals and three assists in 58 games. Desautels, from White City, Saskatchewan, was the last goalie cut each of the previous two seasons.
However, both players’ positions on this year’s team were tenuous. Morden had yet to establish himself as a top-four defenseman and was in a position where he would be competing for minutes with younger players. And Desautels was no better than a 50-50 bet to make the team.
“With Evan, we have a group on defense where we had to make room for some younger guys so they could get ice time and develop in the right direction,” Davidson said. “It’s all about the youth movement as much as anything. This way everyone gets a chance for more ice time.”
As for Trombley, he’s been reassigned to the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Davidson said Trombley, who was picked up off waivers in August, would remain on Everett’s 50-player protected list.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.