Today was the opening day of Silvertips training camp as the players took the ice for the first time. A total of 73 players have been distributed among four teams. Today was just a practice day as each team took part in an introductory practice to meet the coaches, go through some basic drills and get the butterflies out of the system. Scrimmages don’t get started until Friday afternoon.
As such, there’s not a whole lot to report about today. Not only was it just practice sessions, I wasn’t paying too much attention to the individual players as I was just trying to get numbers/colors associated with specific players, as well as running around attempting to get the best angles for photographs, which I’ve been posting on my Twitter feed.
Nevertheless, here’s some notes from the first day:
– The most notable thing to me was the new lights at Comcast Arena. The arena just installed new LED lighting. My understanding is that the arena is still fiddling with the settings, so it hasn’t been perfected yet. But the main takeaway is that there will be more light on the ice and less on the stands. The new lights are more energy efficient, and they require fewer banks of lights. As for how the new lighting made things look, I certainly noticed a slightly different quality to the light, but it didn’t seem weird to me or affect my viewing ability in a negative way. Team photographer Chris Mast, however, has some work to do to get his camera settings calibrated for the new light.
– New assistant coach Brennan Sonne stepped right in and took the point duties during today’s practices, and he seemed right at home. Veteran assistant Mitch Love served as the secondary coach, while goaltending coach Shane Clifford, Junior Silvertips coach Nick Fouts and scout Kevin Pedersen also assisted, allowing head coach Kevin Constantine to take things in from the bench. I thought it was a nice touch when Sonne told the newcomers to introduce themselves personally to Constantine during the practices’ waning stages.
And for those of you wondering whether Sonne still has the shootout magic from his days as a Silvertip? Never fear! He’s still money, even when there’s a bunch of sticks on the ice serving as obstacles in his path.
– Of the returning players, the one whose physical appearance changed the most from last season is goaltender Austin Lotz. Lotz played at 203 pounds last season, but he reported to camp at a trim 180 pounds, looking nearly unrecognizable. The main factor in Lotz’s weight loss was getting serious about nutrition during the offseason. He’s hoping that being lighter will help him handle the rigors of being a workhorse No. 1 goaltender a little better this season. That’s good news for Everett, which will be needing a strong campaign from Lotz this season.
– The Silvertips took over Everett Youth Hockey last year with the intention of improving the quality of the program and keeping the area’s top players local. One of the things EYH has done is create a new Junior Silvertips 16U AAA midget team, which should provide the players an unprecedented level of competition for a Puget Sound-based team. Everett has eight players from that team in camp: Tips bantam draft picks Wyatte Wylie and Brendan Studioso, as well as invitees Harrison Clark, Troy Pichette, Matthew Clarke, Alec Johnson, Brendan Weir and Sean Mallonee. So the cooperation between the Tips and EYH continues.
– Elsewhere around the league, it was brought to my attention (thanks Fax) that former Silvertip Trent Lofthouse is in camp with the Portland Winterhawks, looking to earn an overage roster spot. I’ve remarked before that it seems Lofthouse has a penchant for scoring goals against his former teams, and it was also mentioned to me that Portland plays Everett four times in the first 22 days of the season. Maybe it would behoove the Winterhawks to hang onto Lofthouse at least until the Oct. 15 overager cutdown date …