By Nick Patterson Herald writer
EVERETT — The turn of the new year is a hectic time for many. But few will be busier than the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals.
The Tips and Royals are ringing in the new year with an unusual home-and-home set that leaves little time for singing Auld Lang Syne.
The teams pay visits to one another as 2013 gives way to 2014, with tonight’s New Year’s eve game taking place in Everett and Wednesday’s New Year’s day game in Victoria. That’s a quick turnaround, accompanied by a lengthy ferry ride in between.
But further tightening the schedule is that the New Year’s eve game is a night game, while the New Year’s day game is an afternoon game, forcing the teams to scramble that much more.
“It’s going to be different,” said Tips forward Brayden Low, who became familiar with ferry travel during his time playing in the British Columbia Hockey League. “We’re not used to back-to-back with ferry travel and on New Year’s. But I think it’s going to be fun.”
Everett traditionally hosts a New Year’s eve game, but rarely is that game followed up the following day. The only other time the Tips had a New Year’s day game following a New Year’s eve game was in 2010-11, and both those games were evening home contests. So this season’s arrangement breaks new ground.
The itinerary for Wednesday is jam packed. After playing the previous night, the Tips will gather at Comcast Arena Wednesday morning for a 7:30 a.m. departure. They’ll bus across the border to board the 11 a.m. ferry from Tsawwassen, B.C., arriving in Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island approximately an hour-and-a-half later. It’s another half-hour bus ride from the ferry terminal to Victoria, meaning Everett will arrive at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre — provided there’s no hiccups — about two hours before the 3:05 p.m. start time. The Tips will play the game, then hustle back to the terminal for the 7 p.m. ferry back to the mainland, finishing off by driving back to Everett.
“It’s a quick turnaround,” Low said. “We’re lucky they’re doing the same thing. It’s not like we’re traveling and they get a night off. There’s going to be a lot of tired legs on that bus come Wednesday morning, so we’re going to have to find a way to get going.”
Victoria may be dealing with the same situation, but the Royals’ itinerary is slightly different from Everett’s. The Royals are bussing to Tsawwassen immediately following tonight’s game, where they’re staying overnight. They’ll take the 9 a.m. ferry in order to get back to Victoria earlier.
“It’s a strange day,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “You’re on a ferry, that’s different. Playing a day game, that’s different. But it’s just sitting there on the schedule, you just go do it. There’s nothing really to analyze or think about.
“Obviously it’s a little easier for their team because they do it on a regular basis,” Constantine added. “But it’s two teams playing each other in the exact same conditions. It shouldn’t matter.”
The busy new year’s schedule is partially a product of the new computer-generated scheduling system that was implemented last offseason, though Everett requested it’s traditional New Year’s even home game in advance.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s the same for both teams,” Everett general manager Garry Davidson said. “We get to sleep in our own beds. It just means you’re up and on your way, which most days they have to get up and go to school. With our division, we have five teams. At times we have to marry up with someone in the B.C. Division, and this time it ends up being Victoria
“It’s just part of the growth and development of our young players, to deal with travel.”
Everett will be playing the home-and-home set without overage forwards Joshua Winquist and Manraj Hayer.
It was revealed Monday that Winquist, Everett’s leading scorer, is suffering from concussion symptoms. The injury dates back to Everett’s final game of the first half on Dec. 17 in Portland, when Winquist was hit high by Winterhawks defenseman Anton Cederholm. Winquist finished the game, but began feeling the symptoms afterward.
Meanwhile Hayer, who ranks second to Winquist on the team in points per game, has been out since suffering a concussion on Dec. 11 in Spokane, when he slid hard into the boards. Hayer has missed six games so far.
Both Winquist and Hayer continue to sit out practice. Constantine said there is no timetable for either’s return.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.