Silvertips boosted by return of defensemen

EVERETT — Kevin Davis and Noah Juulsen were back on the ice for practice with the Everett Silvertips on Tuesday afternoon at Comcast Arena.

However, their shiny new baubles were safely tucked away at home.

Davis and Juulsen are back with the Tips following their stint at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge, and the rookie defensemen came away with some hardware as their Team Pacific took the silver medal at the tournament.

“It felt good winning one for Canada,” Juulsen said. “We were the only Canadian team to medal, so it felt really good.

“Gold would have been nice, but we’ll take the silver.”

Team Pacific, consisting of players who hail from British Columbia and Alberta, finished second at the tournament, which took place at various locations in Nova Scotia. Team Pacific won its round-robin pool, going 3-1, then beat Russia 7-3 in the semifinals before falling 4-0 to a dominant U.S. team in the championship game.

“I thought we played really well,” Davis said about Team Pacific’s performance in the tournament. “The U.S. is such a strong team, there wasn’t much we could do.”

Juulsen was among Team Pacific’s scorers in the semifinal win over Russia. He finished the tournament with a goal and an assist in six games.

“I thought I played pretty good, pretty solid back there,” Juulsen said. “I did what I could, helped the team.”

Davis didn’t get on the scoresheet during the tournament, but he played extensive minutes in each of Team Pacific’s six contests.

“I thought I fit in pretty well,” Davis said.

“It was a big moment in my and Juul’s lives,” Davis added. “We didn’t get our goal of a gold, but silver is pretty respectable.”

There was little either Juulsen or Davis could do in the championship game against a U.S. team that won all its games and outscored its opponents by a combined score of 47-6. The U.S. outshot Team Pacific 52-12 in the title contest, and the four-goal margin matched the smallest in any game involving the Americans.

Tips prospect Auston Matthews, a third-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft who has not attended any training camps in Everett, played for the U.S. and finished fourth on the team in scoring with eight points (four goals, four assists) in six games.

Davis and Juulsen, who missed five of Everett’s games, weren’t the only returnees on Tuesday as defenseman Mirco Mueller also was back with the team. The 18-year-old first-round NHL draft pick missed the previous nine games while representing Switzerland at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Malmo, Sweden. Mueller, making his second appearance at World Juniors with Switzerland, had a goal and an assist in five games as the Swiss were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Canada.

The returns of Mueller, Davis and Juulsen couldn’t have come quicker for the injury-ravaged Tips. Defenseman Matt Pufahl is back on the shelf. Everett’s captain was questionable for last Saturday’s game at Spokane because of a foot injury. Pufahl played, but early in the first period he suffered an unrelated injury as an awkward hit caused ligament damage in his ribs. Pufahl will miss a minimum of one-to-two weeks. In addition, veteran D-man Austin Adam is dealing with multiple bumps and bruises and had to hobble out of practice Tuesday.

Therefore, Mueller, Davis and Juulsen will be thrust straight back into the lineup tonight when the Tips host the Portland Winterhawks.

“It’s critical,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said about getting Mueller, Davis and Juulsen back. “When you play short a guy the way we did over that stretch, you’re just putting extra stress on another group. Just to get through that we asked guys to play a little bit banged up, which can make problems worse. All the banged-up bodies would have had to play (tonight) without the three guys returning.”

Slap shots

Pufahl and Adam weren’t the only players who sat out Tuesday’s practice. Leading scorer Joshua Winquist, who just returned Saturday from a concussion, made it through the game fine from a concussion standpoint. However, he’s now nursing a groin issue. Winger Tyler Sandhu, who’s been dealing with both illness and a sore back, also sat out Tuesday. Both are questionable for tonight’s game. Center Manraj Hayer remains out because of a concussion. ? Newly-acquired forward Remi Laurencelle practiced with the team for the first time Tuesday. He’s still getting up to speed, but he’s available for tonight’s game should the Tips find themselves short-handed. ? Portland, which has been severely short-handed, will be nearly back to full strength tonight. Winger Brendan Leipsic has completed his seven-game suspension, while defenseman Derrick Pouliot, center Nicolas Petan and winger Taylor Leier have returned from representing Canada at World Juniors.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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