EVERETT —Jack Lambert entered Silvertips’ training camp with the goal of being picked up by the team.
Lambert accomplished that goal when he was signed by the team on Thursday. But his work is not over.
Lambert, a 16-year-old forward from Fairbanks, Alaska who played for the Jr. Silvertips elite program last season, is vying to be a member of the Silvertips’ young core of forwards in 2019-202. His second-period goal helped propel the Silvertips to a 5-3 preseason win over the Spokane Chiefs in Everett’s second game in the Delta Hotels Preseason Classic on Saturday.
“Oh, it would be so awesome,” Lambert said of making the team. “I can’t even put it into words how awesome that would be.”
The 16-year-old forward wasn’t drafted by the team in the bantam draft, but was placed on Everett’s protected list in January after he caught the eye of Everett’s scouting staff while playing for the Junior Silvertips’ elite under-15 squad.
“In training camp, he was really good,” Davidson said. “I thought was only OK in the (Green-and-Grey game) and it put a little doubt in mind, but (Friday) night he comes to play, he works hard and for a 16-year-old he’s doing extremely well out there.”
Lambert’s game on Saturday came down to a lot of good, some bad and some ugly.
First, the good: In addition to hounding pucks on the forecheck throughout the game, he registered his first goal of the preseason by capitalizing on a two-on-one rush after a delayed penalty to put Everett up 2-1. Justyn Gurney fed Lambert the puck for the primary assist and Max Patterson picked up the secondary helper.
“It was everything I worked for,” Lambert said. “It was awesome to get that first one out of the way and the guys helped that happen. It was an awesome moment for me.”
The bad came late in the game, with Lambert taking an undisciplined penalty late in the third, leading to Adam Beckman’s power-play goal to cut the lead to 4-3.
“That’s a young person not understanding the game,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “Two-hundred-foot penalty at the end of the game, it’s unacceptable. It’s a lazy, selfish penalty.
“I thought he played a really good game, obviously that one penalty isn’t going to define his game, but it’s something that he’s going to have to learn from. Because that’s the difference between being put out in the playoffs and moving on, especially when it’s that far out from your net, you can’t have it. When you have these first year players coming out of bantam and midget hockey, it’s not that big of a deal.”
Lesson learned for Lambert.
“I put the guys down and I can’t do that,” he said.
But ultimately it’s Lambert’s engine and insatiable skating that’s stood out to the Silvertips coaching staff and front office.
“That’s the thing, he never stops — he keeps his feet moving,” Davidson said. “He reminds me in that regard of Brian King, who was here a couple years ago. Extremely good work ethic, he’s got some sense for the game and he just keeps his feet moving, therefore he gets by guys and to loose pucks.”
It’s that fearlessness that led to Lambert’s ugly moment, when Spokane defenseman Matt Leduc crushed him with a brutal open-ice hit near Spokane’s blueline. It rattled Lambert at the moment, but he didn’t miss a shift after that.
“I got blown up there pretty good,” Lambert said. “It was a good hit, it happens.”
As a 16-year-old, Lambert will need to demonstrate he’s capable of suiting up for a majority of games this season, as players that age must suit up a minimum of 40 games or else teams are subject to fines or even forfeiture of draft picks. But, since Lambert is set to play for the Jr. Silvertips under-16 squad this year, he could be easily added as an affiliate player if an injury or suspension occurs.
The next four preseason games will determine Lambert’s fate.
“He might make our lineup right now,” Davidson said. “I haven’t ruled that out by any means. He’s aware that we can only carry so many 16-year-olds, and if he’s in the mix, that’s great. And if he’s not, then he makes a great affiliate player for us nearby.
“But I’m not ruling out the fact that he could work his way right into the lineup here.”
Tips acquire defensemen depth
The Western Hockey League announced on Saturday that the Everett Silvertips acquired 18-year-old defenseman Parker Hendren from the Vancouver Giants for a conditional pick between the 2020 and 2021 bantam drafts.
Hendren, a 2000-born defenseman from Regina, Saskatchewan, split most of his season between the Giants and the Regina Pats Canadians Midget AAA squad last season. The seventh-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft recorded two points (one goal, one assists) in 27 WHL games last season.
“He’s a right-shot, which fits our team well, and he’s played a bit in the league,” Davidson said. “We’ve heard good things about him and I hope he shows up here before the end of (Saturday’s game) and we get him on the ice (on Sunday). I don’t know if he’ll play, but hopefully he gets out on ice for practice.
With Gianni Fairbrother (Canadiens) and Jake Christiansen (Blues) set to take off for NHL camps after this weekend, and Wyatte Wylie (Flyers) already there, the Silvertips had just five signed defenseman before Hendren’s acquisitions.
“We lost Ian Walker and that wasn’t in the plans and I think we have to be careful in proceeding with only eight defensemen,” Davidson said. “Right off the bat it’s going to be a problem because the three days are going to pro camp on Tuesday and we felt it was necessary to add another guy.”
Max Patterson scored and Justyn Gurney added two more to lead the Silvertips in the third.
Patterson scored off Jake Christiansen’s feed off the rush to put Everett up 3-2 at 6:11 in the third.
Then Gurney punched in a rebound after Reece Vitelli drove the puck to the net to add an insurance goal at 11:35 in the final period.
Gurney added an empty-netter with 41 seconds remaining to push the lead back out to two.
Spokane scored all three goals on the power play, two courtesy of Adam Beckman.
Michal Gut scored his second goal of the preseason to put the Silvertips up 1-0 12:59 into the first period. The 2019 import draft pick buried the rebound after Dawson Butt’s shot on frame trickled into the slot.
Everett outshot Spokane 35-29, and Keegan Karki stopped 26 shots for the Silvertips in net.
—Jackson Berezowski left the game in the first period with an injury, Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams confirmed postgame.
—Gage Goncalves was assessed a game misconduct in the first period after trying to fight Leduc, who crushed Lambert with an open-ice hit, leaving Everett with just 10 forwards for the majority of the game.
— The scratches for Everett on Saturday were forwards Martin Fasko-Rudas, Carter Halamandaris, Nate Goodbrandson, Conrad Mitchell; defensemen Dylan Anderson and Wyatte Wylie; goaltender Dustin Wolf.
Josh Horton cover the Silvertips for the Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @JoshHortonEDH