EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips’ dynamic duo of Bryce Kindopp and Connor Dewar struggled to form a trio and a congruent forward line all season long.
They are partly to blame for it, according to their coach.
“They’re not easy to play with,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “They’re demanding guys and they’re fast and tenacious guys. That’s why they’re our leaders.”
In theory, Dewar and Kindopp, with their vision, passing and finishing ability, wouldn’t be difficult to play with.
But an amalgamation of different styles haven’t formed a perfect union with the pair. Bigger, heavier players like Robbie Holmes haven’t stuck, and neither have younger playmakers, like 2001-born forwards Gage Goncalves and Reece Vitelli.
The rotating group of linemates is not something that deeply bothers the two.
“It’s not a big deal for us,” Dewar said. “We ask guys to elevate and play even faster with how we play.”
That style of play has yielded nothing but results this season.
After Kindopp led the Silvertips with 39 regular-season goals and Dewar led the team with 81 points, the pair powered Everett to a 4-1 series win over Tri-City. Kindopp led the team with nine points, all of which came in the final four games of the series, and Dewar’s seven points in four games, he missed Game 2 with an undisclosed injury, was second on the team in terms of points per game (1.75).
Kindopp in particular has elevated his play this season, evolving into one of the team’s leaders despite playing a lesser role during the team’s WHL finals run last season.
“I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit,” Dewar said. “He does everything for us. He kills, he’s on the power play. When guys like me or (Riley Sutter) were out for awhile, he stepped up and started scoring more goals and stepped into more of a leadership role.
“It’s just so important to have guys like that. If he keeps doing what he’s doing he’ll get the credit he deserves.”
While Dewar mostly played on a line with Garrett Pilon and Sutter during last year’s playoffs, he and Kindopp said some chemistry developed after playing together toward the end of the regular season, and carried over into 2018-2019.
“It’s been an instant thing,” Kindopp said. “We know how each other wants to play. We want to rag pucks down low and use our speed. I think that helps us out.”
It also doesn’t hurt that the two share the same billet house during the season.
“I think that helps, just bonding off the ice as well,” Kindopp said. “We’re pretty good buddies.
“I think that’s why our team is so deep, to be honest,” Kindopp added. “Everybody can play with everybody because we’re all so close as a group. That helps when you get out there for sure.”
The Silvertips’ lines have been a jumbled mess for the majority of the season, especially since Sutter, the team’s No. 1 center, went down with a significant lower-body injury on Dec. 29. But stability could be near.
Sutter was cleared for full-contact practice on Thursday at the Community Ice Rink in Everett, his first since the injury. Although there are still significant hurdles, including full clearance for game action, conditioning and shaking off rust after a long absence, Sutter’s presence would be an immediate boon for Everett if he were to return.
“It was fun to see him out there (Thursday) and hopefully he keeps progressing,” Dewar said.
There is a silver lining to all of the instability though, according to Williams. Everett players may be more able to adapt to playing with a variety of different people because that’s been the constant all season.
“You want guys to get that continuity and good feeling of knowing where guys are,” Williams said. “It’s difficult for them, but the guys do a good job of it, and I think it makes you a little better when you know you can play with everybody and I feel confident that I can move anyone anywhere and they can succeed.”