Silvertips sign four players to WHL education contracts

EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips confirmed Tuesday the signing of four players over the weekend to Western Hockey League education contracts.

Goaltender Mario Petit, defenseman Tristen Pfeifer, and wingers Nik Malenica and Gunnar Wegleitner signed with the Tips, committing their futures to the team.

All four appeared in games during last weekend’s Holiday Inn Preseason Classic at Comcast Arena, suggesting they had signed with the Silvertips — players are not eligible to play in preseason games without signing. Everett general manager Garry Davidson confirmed the signings Tuesday.

All four players were passed over in their respective bantam drafts and were later added to Everett’s 50-player protected list.

Petit, a 17-year-old from Ile des Chenes, Manitoba, spent last season with the Eastman Selects of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League. In 27 games, he had a 2.66 goals against average and .910 save percentage.

“We felt Mario Petit needed a chance to prove himself in a game, so we put him on a contract, and subsequently he did very well for himself this weekend,” Davidson said. “So we have four more exhibition games to work through our goaltending, with four guys here.”

Pfeifer, an 18-year-old from Phoenix, played last season for the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes of the Tier 1 Elite League. The lanky 6-foot-4 defender had nine goals and six assists in 31 games there.

“I saw him prior to camp and felt positive he could come in here and compete,” Davidson said. “He immediately did that and caught the eye of not only our coaching staff but all the other scouts. It made all the sense in the world to get him on a contract and I think he’ll be a nice addition to our back end.”

Malenica, who is from Nanaimo, B.C., and turns 17 in October, spent last season with the North Island Silvertips of the B.C. Major Midget League. In 39 games, the hulking 6-foot-5 forward had five goals, 15 assists and 66 penalty minutes.

Wegleitner, a 16-year-old from Vancouver, B.C., attended training camp as an invitee and earned a spot on Everett’s protected list. Last season with the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the B.C. Major Midget League, he had seven goals and five assists in 40 games.

“They both showed us enough that we believe they’re players for the future,” said Davidson, who’s still determining whether Malenica or Wegleitner are ready to make the team this season. “We’re getting them into exhibition games and we’ll see where they fit into the mix. I see a lot of promise in them.”

Everett made two roster moves following the weekend as a pair of 15-year-olds, defenseman Jantzen Leslie and winger Bryce Kindopp, were reassigned after getting their first taste of WHL action. Both Leslie and Kindopp, who are too young to make the team this season, appeared in two games over the weekend. They already were scheduled to return home following the weekend.

Otherwise, everyone who was with the team over the weekend and is eligible to make the team is still with the Tips. Therefore, Everett takes a roster of 28 players — 16 forwards, eight defensemen and four goaltenders — into this weekend’s Tri-City Preseason Tournament in Kennewick. The Tips face Seattle on Friday and Kootenay on Saturday, both in morning contests.

Leedahl suspended

Everett winger Dawson Leedahl received a two-game suspension from the league for his checking-from-behind major penalty during Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Portland. He will miss Everett’s two games this weekend.

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

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