EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips traded away two forwards in Graham Millar and Brett Kemp as part of the pre-deadline blockbuster deal for defenseman Aaron Irving.
Then rookie forward Orrin Centazzo suffered a season-ending broken collarbone during Everett’s visit to the East Division knocking the Tips’ complement of able-bodied forwards down to 11. Everett initially scrambled on the road trip by having rookie defenseman Ian Walker skate on the fourth line alongside Brian King and Brandson Hein.
“We go over systems every day in video so I know the systems pretty well and it was an easy adjustment,” said Walker, whose previous forward experience consisted of one season in spring hockey. “It’s pretty complicated, but we go over it a lot.”
Since returning from the road trip the Tips have added 1997-born forwards Keith Anderson and Cal Babych to the roster as the team heads into its final 11 games of the regular season Wednesday when it plays host to the Spokane Chiefs a 7:05 p.m. at Xfinity Arena.
Anderson made his Everett debut Saturday in Kent and immediately announced his presence by leveling several Thunderbirds players with thundering checks.
“It’s part of my game and that’s what I have to bring in order for this team to win,” said Anderson, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound winger. “Being a big guy using your size is definitely something that can help.”
After playing 33 games with the Victoria Royals last season, Anderson suited up in three this year before he was let go and subsequently split 41 games between the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers and Alberni Valley Bulldogs. He tallied seven goals and five assists while logging 88 penalty minutes in those 41 contests.
Anderson picked up dozen penalty minutes in his debut Saturday with a second-period trip to the penalty box and a 10-minute misconduct with less than two minutes to play in the game.
“The atmosphere was a lot of fun to play in, the guys have been great to me so far and I’m just excited about the opportunity,” Anderson said.
If Babych’s name sounds familiar it should, and not just because he’s the son of 19-year NHL veteran Dave Babych. The younger Babych skated in two games with the Tips at the end of January when Everett suffered a spate of injuries. He also played three games with the Vancouver Giants at the beginning of the season — two of them against Everett.
“There are a lot of systems to take in especially when you get here, but the guys have been great just taking me in,” Babych said. “I know it’s kind of weird coming into a team part of the way through the season but it’s been great so far.”
Babych played 38 games this year with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express between WHL stints and scored seven goals with 23 assists. But he was already a WHL veteran with 158 combined regular-season and playoff games for the Calgary Hitmen, Prince Albert Raiders and Prince George Cougars before this season began.
“It’s quite a bit different, I guess is the way to put it,” Babych said of playing at the Junior A level. “Coming back is always nice. Playing with guys who kind of understand the game a little bit better is the biggest difference and it’s good so far.”
Like many Tips players acquired from other WHL franchises, Babych has fond memories of playing at Xfinity Arena as a visitor.
“The U.S. Division is always one of the road trips you look forward to playing,” he said. “I think it’s because it’s a different feeling down here. It’s a different kind of hockey and different kind of fans, too. They are a little more rowdy especially here and Seattle for sure. It’s just exciting.”
The Tips play host to Kelowna Friday and Seattle Saturday. Following Saturday’s game Everett plays only once more at home as it closes out the regular season by playing seven of eight on the road.
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