The Tyler Palmer era has begun with the Everett Silvertips.
Everett’s new goaltender made his debut with the team over the weekend, and although the initial results weren’t what everyone hoped, the belief remains that Palmer is the right individual to lock down the Tips’ net during the second half of the season.
Everett made a significant move to shake up its goaltending last week when it acquired Palmer, a 19-year-old from Fernie, B.C., from the Victoria Royals in exchange for No. 1 netminder Braden Holt. Palmer made his first two starts for Everett over the weekend, stopping 63 of 75 shots as the Tips lost 5-1 at home against Portland on Friday and 7-2 at Portland on Saturday.
“He’s a real high-end competitor,” Everett associate coach David Struch said about his first impression of Palmer. “He never gave up. I know we got behind by five early in Portland, but he never gave up. I spoke to him after first period and told him we weren’t going to pull him, we were going to stick with him, and he came out and did everything we could have expected of him. It’s a sign of good character. He hadn’t played in seven weeks, and having not played for that period of time I think there were a lot of real good positives. I know there are a couple he’d want back, but it’s just a matter of time before he gets his timing and fitness back and he can have an impact on games for us.”
The weekend’s two games were Palmer’s first action since his last appearance for Victoria on Nov. 12. Palmer was away from the Royals between then and the time of the trade for undisclosed reasons. Struch declined to comment when asked if he was able to shed light on the reason why Palmer was away from Victoria.
Palmer continued to work with his personal goaltending coach during his time away from the Royals, but he’s still working his way into full game shape.
”You can do all you want as far as riding the stationary bike and staying strong,” Struch said. “You can go with your goalie coach and work on technique. But when it comes to reading plays at game-speed with timing and awareness, there’s nothing you can do until you get into game situations. He has to get those minutes playing in games, and I think it’s going to take four or five games for him to get to where he wants to be.”
Everett hopes Palmer is up to speed soon. The Tips lost their first three games following the holiday break — including last Tuesday’s 5-2 loss at Tri-City — and are on a five-game losing streak. As a result the Tips (16-17-1-0) have fallen back into the pack in the Western Conference and are one of four teams that are within a single point in the battle for fourth place.
Three stars of the week
Third star: Ben Hemmerling. The 18-year-old winger was an offensive creator, notching two assists over the course of the three games and setting up several other scoring chances.
Second star: Ryan Hofer. The 20-year-old center scored two goals, plus he was strong on faceoffs as he won 59% of his draws during the three contests.
First star: Niko Tsakumis. The 17-year-old defenseman, who was acquired from Seattle in early December, scored his first two goals as a Silvertip. The second of those goals, which came in Saturday’s game, showed the kind of offensive potential Tsakumis has as he stickhandled through the defense before scoring.
The week ahead
This week the Tips embark on the second of their two annual long bus rides as they head to the northern British Columbia outpost of Prince George.
The trip begins Wednesday when they make a stop in Kamloops to face the Blazers. Kamloops (21-7-3-2), this year’s Memorial Cup host, is way out in front in the B.C. Division. However, the Blazers will be without their biggest star in 19-year-old forward Logan Stankoven (17 goals, 27 assists), who is with Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Then Everett continues north for games at Prince George on Friday and Saturday. The Cougars (15-16-3-0) are tied with the Tips with 33 points. Prince George is led by it’s two NHL draft-eligible star forwards in 18-year-old Koehn Ziemmer (19 goals, 30 assists) and 17-year-old Riley Heidt (15 goals, 34 assists).
These are Everett’s final games before the Jan. 10 trade deadline. The Tips should also get head coach Dennis Williams and star defenseman Olen Zellweger back from representing Canada at World Juniors following this week.