Former NHL player Turner Stevenson (center) has been in charge of the Everett Jr. Silvertips program since 2016. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Former NHL player Turner Stevenson (center) has been in charge of the Everett Jr. Silvertips program since 2016. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett Jr. Silvertips move to Seattle Junior Hockey

The program will join the Mountlake Terrace-based league due to ongoing problems with ice time.

The region’s premier youth hockey program is remaining in Snohomish County. It’s just moved 15 miles south.

The Everett Jr. Silvertips, the top program in the state for hockey players ages 14-18, has switched allegiances from being a part of Everett Youth Hockey to being a part of the Mountlake Terrace-based Seattle Junior Hockey Association.

The program, which includes teams that play at the 14-under, 15-under, 16-under and 18-under levels, has been rebranded the Northwest Stars. The teams continue to be run by former NHL player Turner Stevenson and continue to play in the North America Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), which is one of the top developmental hockey leagues in the country. The team is currently playing out of Lynnwood Ice Center.

The Jr. Silvertips were created in 2014 after the WHL’s Everett Silvertips took over administration of Everett Youth Hockey. The purpose of the program was to give local elite youth hockey players, who previously had to relocate to places like Minnesota and California in order to get the competition they needed to continue their development, the opportunity to stay home. The program launched with the 16-under team, and after Stevenson took over administration of the program in 2016 it grew to four teams. Among the program’s alumni are former Everett Silvertips star defenseman Wyatte Wylie, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL draft, as well as current Silvertips forwards Dawson Butt and Hunter Campbell.

However, Stevenson cited difficult securing adequate ice time for practices as the reason for switching to Seattle Junior.

“We’ve had a phenomenal relationship with Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson,” Stevenson said. “But the building in Everett (Angel of the Winds Arena) and how ice time is allocated was an ongoing issue. This is an opportunity with the (NAPHL), but I was losing players based on what we were promising families at the beginning of the year with regards to practice time, which was not being upheld on that end. I can’t bring in multiple players and have families pay those type of ice fees only for those ice times to be taken away.

“It’s very unfortunate because that rink is the crown jewel of the northwest when it comes to recruiting players.”

Angel of the Winds Arena general manager Corey Margolis referred questions to the Silvertips, who administered the program.

Silvertips governor Zoran Rajcic echoed Stevenson’s sentiments about challenge of securing ice time at Angel of the Winds Arena. Rajcic mentioned the increased number of events being held at the arena prior to the coronavirus pandemic, along with the increased number of Jr. Silvertips teams, as contributing to the ice-time crunch.

“There’s nothing between us and Turner, Turner’s done a great job growing that program,” Rajcic said. “The facility just couldn’t get everything needed for the players. Turner came to us in January or February to see if it was OK to look at (making the switch). The objective behind the program was to help grow the game for the local youth players, that’s what we’re all about. It’s sad that they left, but by the same standpoint they had to try and make it better than it was.”

The Northwest Stars have been participating in NAPHL showcases this fall. All four teams played four games Sept. 18-20 in Blaine, Minnesota, while the 18-under and 16-under teams are scheduled to play another showcase in Blaine this weekend.

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