EVERETT — With the addition of forward Cole Fonstad, the Everett Silvertips’ initial plan is for Fonstad to play on the left wing opposite of WHL leading goal-scorer Bryce Kindopp with 18-year-old forward Gage Goncalves centering the two.
It’s no shock Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams will pair Fonstad with Kindopp to form a potentially dangerous one-two punch, but Goncalves comes as a bit of surprise considering Everett has never used him at center, a position that typically requires more defensive responsibilities, except when in a pinch. Of course, someone needed to fill the void left by Reece Vitelli, a 2001-born center who was sent to Prince Albert in the trade for Fonstad, and Goncalves was given that opportunity.
“I like Gage’s compete right now and he’s one of our smarter players, so he can do a good job down there,” Williams said. “He’s a little slight … But you want to make sure you match him against the right line to go against, because he’s going to have to play fast and heavy at times. But what he has is he’s got compete and he’s got grit. He’s got the smarts and he’s got a good stick going out of our zone and in the middle of the ice, he can dish pucks well. We’ll give him a shot there and I know that he’ll live up to the expectations. He’s that type of player.”
Goncalves, listed at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, said he’s ready for the opportunity.
“I’m pretty used to it now,” said Goncalves, who filled in down the middle at times last season and in the preseason. “I was back on the wing at the start of the year, but I don’t know, center has always been my second position. But when you’re playing with Bryce and Fonstad, they’re going to help me out with a lot of talk and what not.”
Everett will keep together a big and heavy line Williams said he liked over the weakened in Justyn Gurney and Dawson Butt centered by Max Patterson. Rookie import Michal Gut will center a line with fellow 2002-born forwards Brendan Lee and Jackson Berezowski.
No panic with special teams
The Silvertips have struggled mightily on special teams this season, with Everett’s power play clicking at just 14.3%, tied for 20th in the WHL. The Silvertips penalty kill is at just 75%, which is 18th in the league.
Eight games isn’t a big enough sample size for Williams and the Silvertips to panic.
“Special teams, it takes time,” Williams said. “If you look at how much we practice last week is zero. … It’s easy to get out of sorts, especially in the weekend. You know, I liked our looks in Victoria on Wednesday. We take it game-by-game and it’s a small sample size, but there’s no doubt that our special teams and power play has to get better, penalty has to get better. We’re at the bottom of both right now.”
Here comes the East
The East division will travel to Everett this year and the first of six such opponents will come on Wednesday when the Brandon Wheat Kings take on the Silvertips. Prince Albert, the reigning WHL champion, will be at Angel of the Winds Arena on Saturday.
— There are no significant changes to Everett’s injury report, as import forward Martin Fasko-Rudas and 2001-born forward Conrad Mitchell are still listed as week-to-week with upper-body injuries.
— There’s still no closure to Jake Christiansen’s situation, as the overage defenseman remains on a professional tryout with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, an affiliate of the Calgary Flames. If Christiansen is returned, the Silvertips will have 14 days to cut down their overagers to three, with 20-year-olds Wyatte Wylie, Kindopp and Patterson already on the roster.