By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Troy Trombley is a difficult individual to overlook. At 6-foot-7, the prospective Everett Silvertips goaltender has to duck through the doorway to the Tips locker room when he has his skates and gear on.
But somehow Trombley slipped through the Western Hockey League cracks, and now he’s making Everett’s goaltending decisions difficult.
Everett is back on the ice this weekend with two games at the Tri-City Preseason Tournament in Kennewick, and goaltending will be in the spotlight as the Silvertips try to determine which two players will man the net this season.
“Up to this point they’ve done a pretty good job for us,” Everett general manager Garry Davidson said about his goaltenders. “We’ll go into the next two games and see if they can continue this way. They’re probably going to make our decision getting down to two pretty difficult.”
Everett has three goaltenders battling for the two roster spots. Seventeen-year-old Austin Lotz was the back-up last season, while 18-year-olds Trombley and Andy Desautels are looking to break into the league. All three made a case last weekend during Everett’s first three exhibition games.
“We’ve got three very capable goalies here right now,” Everett coach Mark Ferner said. “I know the first game we were a little bit nervous, but I thought the second and third game everyone played pretty well. The waters are still a little muddy here.”
The moment the 2011-12 season ended, the Tips knew their goaltending was in flux. Kent Simpson, who spent two-plus seasons as the No. 1, was off to the professional ranks in the Chicago Blackhawks system. That left Lotz, who appeared in just 17 games as a 16-year-old rookie last season, and Desautels, who was the last goalie cut each of the past two seasons, as the only viable candidates in Everett’s system.
Davidson attempted to give the Tips another option by acquiring the rights to overage goaltender Brandon Anderson from the Brandon Wheat Kings during the offseason. However, Anderson also appears off to the pro ranks. He already was signed to a contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals and did not attend training camp with the Tips.
Enter Trombley. The Sherwood Park, Alberta, native has spent the past year as a WHL vagabond. He has a strong pedigree, having been selected by the Kamloops Blazers in the third round of the 2009 bantam draft, when he was the second goaltender taken. However, since appearing in one game with the Blazers in 2010-11, his rights have bounced around like a ping pong ball. Last season, Kamloops dropped him from its 50-player protected list; he was picked up and dropped by Prince Albert; then he was picked up and dropped by Edmonton.
It wasn’t until the day before the 50-player protected lists were frozen in August that Everett, seeking goaltending competition, listed Trombley — and Trombley knew where he was headed for training camp.
“I’ve been kind of a suitcase,” Trombley said. “All throughout my midget season I went from Kamloops to P.A., P.A. to Edmonton, then here. Getting those calls back and forth are not the greatest feeling in the world. But it’s nice to end up somewhere.”
Trombley was hugely (pun intended) impressive during training camp, leading all goalies with a .933 save percentage. He’s also handled himself well so far in the preseason, saving 29 of the 31 shots he saw during two appearances last weekend.
“Things have gone great for me and good for the team,” Trombley said. “We’re coming along. I really hope to stay and be with the guys.”
Lotz, as the returning goalie, has the inside track on one roster spot, meaning Trombley and Desautels, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft, are likely fighting for one spot. Both Desautels and Trombley gave up one shaky goal in Everett’s 4-1 loss to Tri-City last Friday, but played well later in the weekend. Ferner suggested Desautels and Trombley may receive one full game each this weekend to show what they can do.
And it’s certain both will do all they can this weekend to make Everett’s choice a hard one.
Everett made two roster moves this week. The Tips reassigned defenseman Kevin Davis, who as a 15-year-old is ineligible to play for Everett full-time this season, along with 18-year-old winger Stefan Burzan, who was in camp on a tryout. With 17-year-old winger Jan Tesarek and 15-year-old goaltender Nik Amundrud departing last week, that leaves Everett with 31 players on its roster: 17 forwards, 11 defensemen and three goaltenders. Everett center Kohl Bauml will not play in this weekend’s exhibition games. Bauml (shoulder injury) participated fully in practices this week, and Ferner said Bauml could probably play this weekend. However, the Tips are choosing to err on the side of caution.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.