EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips are stepping out of their comfort zone.
It still involves holding sticks and trying to score into a net. But it’s missing some key ingredients: most notably ice.
The Tips will be trying their hand at a different sport when they don the lacrosse gear alongside the Washington Stealth for Thursday night’s inaugural Comcast Arena Classic, a benefit lacrosse game.
“It should be interesting,” said Tips winger Ryan Harrison, who played one year of lacrosse about 10 years ago. “I know lots of the guys aren’t very good at it, so it should be fun.”
The game begins at 7 p.m. Thursday with all proceeds going to local youth hockey and lacrosse programs. The plan is for a similar benefit game next year to be played on the ice.
“It’s nice to support the Everett youth programs because they support us and the Stealth,” Harrison said. “So just to give back to them and show our support for the community is really good.”
Despite the similarity in the sports, Everett’s players have limited experience playing lacrosse. The Tips have been preparing for the game with a lacrosse stick. That’s right, a lacrosse stick. Singular. Goaltender Austin Lotz was given a stick when he joined Stealth defenseman Kyle Sorensen for a television interview promoting the event last week, and the Tips have played around with it in the locker room.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Tips center Brayden Low, the closest thing Everett has to a ringer since he played organized lacrosse as recently as a year ago.
“We’re all looking forward to it. I think some of the guys are a little nervous to play against the guys who know what they’re doing. But I’ve played for six or seven years, so it’ll be fun to get the stick back in the hands.”
But while a handful of players have some lacrosse experience, it was generally well in the past, and the Tips are keeping their expectations low.
“It’s going to probably be a lot of missed passes, shots are probably going to bounce and hit the ground first and go over the glass a couple times,” Low said. “Hopefully it won’t be too bad for the fans, but it will be a lot of fun.”
The good news for the Tips is that it’s not a head-to-head match-up with the Stealth. Players from the Tips and the Stealth will be distributed between two teams, with the Stealth providing the goaltender for both squads. As of Tuesday afternoon the rosters had yet to be determined.
“Half the Stealth mixed with half of us should be a good time,” Harrison said. “Hopefully they pass us the ball and don’t do it all themselves because we suck. But it should be fun.
“Going through (the 10-game) losing streak, it’s nice to get away from the game of hockey and have some fun with some other professions.”
The Tri-City Herald released the results of its annual Best of the West poll over the weekend, and Everett’s Tyler Sandhu was the only Silvertips player to top a category. Sandhu was voted the Western Conference’s best 16-year-old in polling that included the conference’s players, management and broadcasters.
Sandhu earned 56.8 percent of the maximum possible voting score. He narrowly edged out Kelowna forward Rourke Chartier (51.5 percent) and Victoria defenseman Joe Hickets (50.5 percent).
Sandhu, a native of Richmond, B.C., who’s played primarily at right wing this season, is currently tied with Chartier for first in scoring among the Western Conference’s 16-year-olds, tallying 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 50 games. His point total is the highest by an Everett 16-year-old since Ryan Murray had 27 in 2009-10, and the most by a Tips 16-year-old forward since Kyle Beach posted 61 points while being named the league’s rookie of the year in 2006-07.
“It’s obviously an honor,” said Sandhu, who was not expecting to earn the honor. “Having all those people vote for me is really nice. But it wouldn’t have happened without my teammates. They’ve been unreal.”
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.