EVERETT — Leaving Swift Current was tougher than you think for new Everett Silvertips forward Ethan Regnier.
Sure, the Broncos are still reeling after pushing their chips to the middle of the table in pursuit of a WHL championship run in 2017-2018 with no obvious turnaround in sight.
But the 2000-born forward felt a deep connection to the city after it provided him a chance not only to break into the league, but develop into a coveted veteran at the WHL’s trade deadline.
“I mean, obviously it was hard,” Regnier said. “I was really close with my billets and I had lots of friends there, but at the same time, the opportunity here is super exciting and I love it here so far.”
Need an underdog to rally around on Everett’s post-deadline roster? Regnier may be your guy.
Born and raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Regnier was playing for the Prince Albert Raiders bantam team in the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League in 2014-2015, where he scored 21 goals and 40 points in 31 games.
The Broncos liked what they saw and took him in the 11th round of the 2015 bantam draft.
The next season, when Regnier tried out for the Prince Albert Mintos midget team in the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League (SMHL), he was cut.
The setback didn’t derail Regnier’s hockey career by any means.
Regnier moved four hours south to play for the Swift Current Legionnaires in the SMHL, and played two seasons there, the second of which he finished sixth in the league with 58 points.
Regnier eventually made the Broncos as a 17-year-old and was a marginal contributor on Swift Current’s 2017-2018 WHL championship team, playing in three total playoff games. He became an integral member of the Broncos when the organization underwent a massive rebuild and became a fan favorite for his leadership and the hard-working nature to his game.
Taking that experience to a contender like the Silvertips was what eventually sold Regnier on coming to Everett.
“That’s obviously a lot of the reason why I’m so excited to come here,” Regnier said. “Obviously I wasn’t playing too much, so to watch those guys and the work they put in and how they got ready for all that stuff, I think it prepared me for what we got going on here right now.”
Regnier, who was traded along with Kasper Puutio two days before the Jan. 10 deadline, brought the final piece of Everett’s trade-deadline puzzle: The ability to play center, along with being thrown right in on the penalty kill and power play early on.
Regnier doesn’t have a single point in eight games with the Silvertips after posting 21 in 34 games with Swift Current.
But his impact has still been felt.
“(Regnier) has been fantastic for us,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “Everyone looks at him and says, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have a point,’ but doesn’t watch his game or how he plays. He’s an honest player, real good on the penalty kill, good in the D-zone, plays at the end of the game up a goal. If he keeps playing like that, the other side of the puck will go in for him, but right now his focus has been being a 200-foot player and he’s been fantastic at it.”
Everett other three recent newcomers — 17-year-old defenseman Puutio, 18-year-old forward Hunter Campbell and 19-year-old forward Ty Kolle — have also settled into prominent roles.
Puutio has taken a role as a top-four defenseman. Like Regnier, Puutio doesn’t have a point in five games.
His status for Friday’s game is in jeopardy after suffering an upper-body injury against Spokane on Friday.
Puutio is still adjusting to the play style in the U.S. Division on top of playing on the North American ice surface after growing up playing on the Olympic-sized ice sheets growing up in Finland.
“It’s more physical and little faster here,” Puutio said. “I think there’s two less teams, but a lot of strong teams in the West. The game is really physical and fast and I like it.”
Kolle has provided a nice boost to Everett’s top-six scoring group with two goals and five points in eight games.
Campbell, an Everett native and Cascade High School graduate, has been a fixture on the penalty kill immediately, like Regnier, and has chipped in a goal
Still, Williams thinks his group is still gelling with its new pieces.
“I still think it’s a work in progress,” Williams said. “We’re still trying to figure out where guys are going to fall in. From Kasper on the back end to the guys up front, they all bring something to the table.”
Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for the Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @JoshHortonEDH