EVERETT — It was a roller coaster ride for the Everett Silvertips this season. The ride was just as herky-jerky for Everett’s three overagers.
Ryan Harrison, Landon Oslanski and Connor Cox saw their junior hockey careers end Monday when Everett was eliminated from the playoffs by the Portland Winterhawks. Each dealt with their share of adversity during the 2012-13 WHL season, and their efforts were appreciated by the Tips.
Ryan Harrison, winger
Among Everett’s three overagers, Harrison had the longest tenure with the Silvertips. The Kelowna, B.C., native first arrived in Everett at the 2011 trade deadline, when he was acquired from Medicine Hat. He spent 21/2 seasons with the Tips, tallying 38 goals and 65 assists in 150 games. His speed, combative style, and his willingness to get involved in scrums made sure he was always easy to recognize on the ice.
“They were great,” Harrison said about his years in Everett. “You couldn’t really ask for anything more, it’s a great organization and a great staff. It was a lot of fun coming to the rink every day, when most of the time there’s tons of fans in there being loud. I really enjoyed it.”
After being a durable player throughout the first four seasons of his WHL career (which included stints with Medicine Hat and Prince Albert), Harrison was plagued by physical ailments this season. It began before training camp started when he contracted mononucleosis, which kept him out the entire preseason. Once the season began, he suffered a knee injury and repeated concussions. He missed 21 games during the regular season, then was forced to watch his career end from the stands as he missed the entire playoffs.
“Obviously there were a lot of injuries, which I’ve never been used to,” Harrison said. “But I thought I worked hard and was consistent in the way I played, with hard work and energy and hitting guys.
“It’s weird,” Harrison added about his WHL career coming to an end. “Everyone says it flies by, but it really does. Yesterday, I felt like I was 16 coming in, and now that I’m 20 I still feel like I’m 16. It’s a whirlwind, but it was a great time.”
Harrison ended up appearing in WHL 325 games, posting 225 points and 507 penalty minutes. He plans on testing the professional waters next season as he hopes to catch on with a team in either the American Hockey League or the East Coast Hockey League.
Landon Oslanski, defenseman / winger
It was quite the whirlwind season for Oslanski.
The Camrose, Alberta, resident started it off by being discarded in the offseason whn Lethbridge determined he was surplus to its needs following three seasons with the team. He was acquired off waivers by the Tips, earned an overager slot during the preseason, then proceeded to be named Everett co-Most Valuable Player, notching 17 goals and 31 assists.
Oslanski was durable, being the only Everett played to appear in all 78 regular season and playoff games, and the lifelong defenseman was versatile, proving to be a capable forward when asked to help up front. The Tips also gave Oslanski his first taste of the playoffs as Lethbridge never made the postseason during his time with the Hurricanes.
“It was awesome, I really enjoyed it,” Oslanski said of his one season in Everett. “I made a lot of friends and people who I’ll see in the future.
“There were too many 20-year-olds in Lethbridge, so I got put on waivers,” Oslanski added. “I probably knew that was going to happen, but I came here and I never let myself quit. I just played as well as I could and it worked out well.”
Oslanski was a valuable weapon at the blue line. His 17 goals were the most ever by an Everett defenseman — though it may come with an asterisk as a couple of his goals came while playing forward.
“I always wanted to play forward, I’m an offensive kind of guy,” Oslanski said. “(Former coach Mark Ferner) gave me a shot at it and it worked out well.”
Oslanski appeared in 279 games during his WHL career, which also included one game with Spokane, tallying 118 points and 335 penalty minutes. He’s unsure about his future hockey plans.
Connor Cox, defenseman
Like Oslanski, Cox was rescued from the waiver wire by the Tips. The Lethbridge, Alberta, native began the season with Saskatoon, but wound up the odd-man out when the Blades waived him at the October overager cutdown date. Everett claimed him and in 59 games with the Tips, he had one goal and 18 assists. By the end of the season, he was partnered with Mirco Mueller on Everett’s top defensive pairing.
“I had a great time,” Cox said of his Tips’s experience. “The fans were unbelievable, I can see why they’re No. 1 in the Western Conference. Everyone was really welcoming. It was an easy fit, the organization was good and I had a lot of fun.”
Cox was appreciative he was able to finish out his overage season in the WHL, despite being waived at the overager deadline.
“It was pretty tough sitting around not knowing what was going to happen before the waiver draft,” Cox said. “But it was a pretty good feeling to know there was still a team that wanted me to play for them. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, but I think I grew a lot as a person going through all that stuff.”
Cox spent five seasons in the WHL between Everett, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. In 278 games, he had 105 points and 134 penalty minutes. He said he likely will continue his hockey career playing collegiately in Canada.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.