EVERETT — Now, the fun begins.
Training camp and “Phase One” of the Everett Silvertips’ preseason ended Sunday with the annual Green-Grey Game, with the Team Green topping the Grey, 5-2, on the main ice at Angel of the Winds Arena.
For the returners, the end of training camp signified the end of their tune-up period before the preseason. For prospective rookies, things are about to intensify as they vie for the open roster spots on the team.
“For me, it’s really foggy still,” Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said of the roster. “We’ll see how the young guys come in here and challenge other guys and we’ll see how the returning guys have stepped up their game from last year.”
Some prospective rookies left Sunday’s scrimmage feeling good about their games, including Ty Gibson, who put Team Green ahead 1-0 when his shot from the point found the back of the net.
“It’s different,” Gibson said of his mindset entering training camp. “You come in and there’s a spot and you’re trying to take it. Last year you come in and it’s more of a building year and trying to understand everything. I think it’s going to be a big jump if I can make the team and land a spot.”
Gibson (2003-born) is one of four signed defensemen who weren’t on Everett’s roster full-time last year who are vying to crack the roster in 2019-2020. Olen Zellweger (2003), Aidan Sutter (2002) and Dylan Anderson (2002) are the others.
With Artyom Minulin and Sahvan Khaira aging out of the league and Ian Walker retiring, three spots on the Silvertips’ blue line are up for the taking. Although, with Everett still carrying four overagers, a fourth spot could open up if 20-year-olds Wyatte Wylie and Jake Christiansen either earn professional contracts or are traded — Wylie heads to the Philadelphia Flyers’ camp this week and Christiansen is skating at the St. Louis Blues’ camp in September.
For Gibson and Zellweger, they must demonstrate they’re capable of suiting up in the Western Hockey League. League rules state that 16-year-olds have to play a minimun of 40 games or they must be sent back to the midget level — there are sanctions, which could include fines or the loss of draft picks, if the rule is violated.
Anderson was the Silvertips’ emergency defenseman last year with his close proximity to Everett — he played at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and is a good bet to make the team this year.
“I just have to come at it like I still have a spot to lose and I still need to make this team,” Anderson said. “I need to show the coaches that I’m ready to play here so they don’t send me home.”
Zellweger made an impressive case for a roster spot during training camp, demonstrating speed and skill. He also notched an assist Sunday. He skated down the left wall, battled below the net and slid a pass to Max Patterson in the slot. Patterson buried it to put Team Green up 2-0.
Zellweger said he feels like he’s ready to make the leap to the WHL.
“I need to prove myself and prove that I’m ready to play here,” he said. “I was preparing a lot. This whole summer, this whole year was looking forward to it. I just need to keep going with it.”
Sutter also played well throughout the training camp and picked up an assist on a power play goal by Connor Dewar, collecting the puck on his own blue line and snapping a pass up to the Minnesota Wild signee through traffic for a breakaway opportunity in the second period, cutting Green’s lead to 3-2.
At forward, Zack Andrusiak graduated out of the league, Dewar and Riley Sutter are likely turning pro after signing professional contracts with the Wild and Capitals, respectively, and Lucas Cullen also elected to return to the Junior A level to play for the West Kelowna Warriors, leaving four spots up for the taking.
Wright scored plenty throughout the tournament and scored on Sunday to put Team Grey on the board in the second period with a wrist shot.
The 17-year-old forward, who was undrafted but signed with the Silvertips in January, played center with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds this past year, a position where the Silvertips are in need.
“If I’m going to make the team, it’s a position they said I’d have to be playing,” Wright said. “I enjoy center a lot and I enjoy the two-way game.”
Halamandaris and Goodbrandson are subject to the same rule Zellweger and Gibson are. Both tried to prove during training camp they’re prepared to play at the pace required in the WHL.
“I’m trying to play at their speed and stay with them. … Just play as fast as I can out there,” Halamandaris said.
“There’s a lot of spots opening up so it’s a big opportunity to hop into one of those spots and play this year,” Goodbrandson said. “It would be a great experience.”
But nothing is set in stone. There’s still many more opportunities for things to shift before the Silvertips’ season opener on Sept. 20.
“There are some guys that are going to have to show us some things in these next exhibition games, or else they won’t be there,” Davidson said. “We start for keeps from here on out.”
Gut arrived in Everett on Friday, but wasn’t able to skate because of a snafu with his work visa, Davidson said. The team is hopeful he can begin skating Tuesday.