Last Friday night Jackson Berezowski became the Everett Silvertips’ all-time goal-scoring king.
Midway through the second period of Everett’s road game against the Seattle Thunderbirds, Berezowski put home the 113th goal of his five-year Silvertips career, eclipsing the previous record of 112 set by Patrick Bsjkov from 2013-18.
The record-breaking goal couldn’t have been scored in a more appropriate fashion as Berezowski swept home a rebound from right in front of goal. One surmises that of Berezowski’s 113 goals to that point, about 100 of them were scored from that type of position. Somehow, despite his modest size, the overage winger from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, has made a living from finding space down low while battling bigger defenders.
“I don’t really think it’s sunk in yet,” Berezowski said about breaking the record. “The overwhelming support I’ve gotten from past players, current players, friends and family has been surreal.”
But you know what? Scoring goals is only Berezowski’s second-biggest contribution to the Tips. As good as Berezowski is in front of the net, he’s even better in the locker room.
Berezowski is perhaps the greatest leader the Silvertips have had in their 20-year history. For every rebound he’s banged home, every puck he’s tipped past the goaltender, Berezowski has countless instances of leading vocally or by example. Everett coach Dennis Williams describes him as the glue that holds the locker room together.
When the Tips played their tribute video to Berezowski’s record prior to Saturday’s game against Seattle at Angel of the Winds Arena, it contained words of congratulations from past Everett goal-scoring legends like Bryce Kindopp and Shane Harper. But it’s no accident that it also included notable past captains like Zacvk Dailey and Ryan Murray.
The Tips know the value Berezowski’s leadership.
“I think it’s the leadership that always comes first,” Berezowski’s linemate Austin Roest said when asked which was more valuable to the team, Berezowski’s goal scoring or his leadership. “Obviously it’s nice when you get to score goals and put up points like he does. But it all starts in the locker room and how good a teammate he is. Leadership is a big part of his game, not just on the ice but off it.”
So what are the things Berezowski does as a leader? Let’s start with the example he sets. Since the moment he arrived in Everett as a 16-year-old rookie Berezowski played every shift like it was his last. And that’s true whether it’s in a game or in practice — Williams said he can’t remember ever having to prod Berezowski into working harder.
“He knows all the little things, he does all the little things right off the ice,” said overage defensemn Aidan Sutter, who’s been Berezowski’s teammate for four seasons. “He’s always stretching, he’s always eating properly, he just takes care of his body so well. And I think it’s his love for the game. After games he’s always looking at video and critiquing himself. That aspect shows why he’s such a good leader.”
What about the vocal side? Berezowski is a natural extension of the coaching staff. During games he’s constantly communicating with his teammates. Between periods he’s the one telling the team — in a matter-of-fact voice rather than barking it out — what it needs to do better. On off days he’s the one talking to the coaches about the condition of the team and providing input on whether the players would be better served by a fun practice or a battle practice. And these things aren’t prompted by the coaches, Berezowski just does them.
“You can hear him as he walks into the room (between periods) saying, ‘Hey fellas, we need to tighten up our shifts now,’” Williams said. “That’s so encouraging for a coach because there’s one thing I can take off my card to talk about because he’s already checked it off. When it comes from your peer like that I think the guys listen even more.”
Berezowski’s leadership qualities were tested to their fullest in the wake of the trade deadline. Everett went into sell mode when it sent two of its best players, defenseman Olen Zellweger and center Ryan Hofer, to Kamloops in exchange for a boatload of draft picks and prospects. It was a clear signal that the future was being prioritized over the present, and it’s the kind of moment that cause players to check out, especially overagers who are in their last season in the WHL.
What did Berezowski do? He accepted the situation and immediately went to work making sure the team didn’t give up on the season. Berezowski scored eight goals in the three games immediately following the trade deadline, and Everett actually has a better record (7-4-1-0) since the big trade than before it (18-18-1-0). No doubt Berezowski’s leadership has played a big role in steadying the ship.
“Growing up through the years and when I played minor hockey I was always part of a leadership group, and it’s grown since day one,” Berezowski said when asked where his leadership comes from, noting he also absorbed things from past teammates like Connor Dewar and Riley Sutter. “Even looking at photos of my dad when he played hockey, he always wore a letter, too. He gave me a lot of qualities and a good foundation to build off of.”
Berezowski’s name is probably going to be in the Everett record book for a while. He now has 115 goals and counting. The second-most goals by an active Everett player is Roest’s 44, so it’s going to require something special for a current player catch Berezowski.
But however long Berezowski’s goal-scoring record stands, his legacy as a leader will likely last longer.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.
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