Ius leaves team (updated)

Major news today as right wing Matt Ius has left the team. More to follow.

—- UPDATE 5:45 p.m.

So the Tips are down yet another veteran as Ius informed the team of his decision today.

The 18-year-old Ius, a second-round bantam pick in 2005 and in his second full season with the team, was a key checking forward and penalty killer for the Tips. However, he cited the desire for a more-prominent role, as well as a dwindling passion for the game, in his decision to leave the team. This is apparently something that’s been brewing for a while.

The crux of the situation seems to be a difference in opinion on what Ius’ role should be. The Tips presently saw Ius as a checker, a third-line role he’s essentially played since becoming a full-time member of the team. However, Ius wants to be an offensive player. He was a scorer at lower levels, but had just seven goals and eight assists in 87 career games with the Tips. He received some power-play time this season, but with the emergence of the 17-year-old rookie line of Kellan Tochkin, Byron Froese and Tyler Maxwell, the opportunity to move into Everett’s top six forwards diminished.

Ius hasn’t requested a trade. He said he’d like to take a step down and play junior A in the BCHL, where he could rebuild his confidence. However, the Tips have placed Ius on their suspended list, which prevents him from joining another league (although the Evan Pighin saga illustrates that may not be 100-percent effective). Everett general manager Doug Soetaert said he would try to trade Ius, presumably to a team that would use Ius in an offensive role, but that it would be a difficult task.

This is a significant blow to the Tips. Ius was one of Everett’s few big-bodied forwards. And with Everett’s penalty kill already struggling, losing a top penalty killer isn’t going to help.

Personally, Ius always struck me as a player with talent, but for whatever reason it never quite manifested itself in Everett. He would show glimpses of offensive potential, particularly in practice, but the finish was never quite there in games. I’m going to miss him, and hopefully in returning to his home in Pitt Meadows, B.C., he can find his peace of mind.

Ius became the fifth player from last season’s team to either leave or choose not to return, joining forwards Vitaly Karamnov, Lukas Vartovnik and Tyler Skauge and defenseman Jonathan Harty. The Everett roster is now almost back to one-half rookies (getting younger and younger). The fortunate thing for Everett is that the Tips should still be OK from a numbers standpoint. Everett was carrying 15 forwards, which was probably one too many for getting everyone the games they needed.

—-

The other news of the day is that left wing Kyle Beach was selected to participate in the Canada-Russia Challenge. Beach was one of 25 Canadian-born WHLers selected for the games, which pit the WHL vs. a Russian all-star team on Nov. 26 in Swift Current and Nov. 27 in Prince Albert. The Canada-Russia Challenge is one of the events used to evaluate players for Canada’s World Junior Hockey Championships team. Beach is expected to play in both games.

What’s interesting about this is it might be an indication that Beach is off Hockey Canada’s blacklist. Beach drew the ire of Hockey Canada thanks to the infamous “Team Ontario” incident while playing for the Canadian U-18 team in the summer of 2007. Beach has been shunned by Hockey Canada ever since. Although the Canada-Russia Challenge team is selected by the WHL and not Hockey Canada, it still suggests there’s a chance Beach is back in the mix for World Juniors.

Beach, who missed Tuesday’s game with back spasms, practiced in a limited capacity today and is questionable for tomorrow’s game against Spokane. Defenseman Shayne Brown remains out with a hip flexor injury.

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