The Everett Silvertips are taking the “it takes a village” approach in Dennis Williams’ absence.
With the Silvertips’ second-year head coach at the Under-17 Hockey Challenge in New Brunswick coaching Team Canada Black, assistant coaches Harry Mahood and Louis Mass, as well as Everett’s leadership group, will pick up the slack for the next two weeks until Williams returns on Nov. 11.
“In one sense you can’t replace the mind and the energy of Coach Williams, but in the other sense we have to look at it as an opportunity that will help us be better,” Mahood said.
There was a structure implemented well before the season that’s made it a seamless transition. Mahood primarily helps Williams with the offense and Mass coaches the defense, a role Mitch Love held for his seven seasons as an assistant in Everett.
“Harry and I still have our designated responsibilities that we carry out, in terms of gameday stuff,” Mass added. “Whether it comes to running the ‘D,’ running the forwards, power play, penalty kill, there aren’t going to be many changes from an operational standpoint there.
“But I think what we do have now is one less voice and a really important voice in the (dressing) room. And I think Harry and I, our roles aren’t going to try and fill or emulate that necessarily. We want to keep things on track and (make sure) practices are run efficiently. What it does open up is an opportunity for some of our leaders to have a bigger voice.”
The Silvertips’ leadership group, led by captain Connor Dewar, is being leaned upon to provide additional guidance.
“We’ve met with those guys and the expectations are that they are going to step up,” Mass said. “And it starts with Connor Dewar. He’s as good of a leader as I’ve seen at this age. He’s beyond his years that way and he’s the ultimate competitor. I contribute a lot of our team success and culture so far to his competitiveness and his attention to detail.
“I think for them it’s thinking, ‘OK, where do we want to be at the end of the season?’ In order to be where we want to be, that group needs to solidify their roles and their contributions as individuals and leaders. Leadership takes a lot of time to develop and I think this is just another opportunity for them to take another step forward.”
Dewar said that he’s felt their roles have already begun to morph as the week’s progressed.
“I think it will be a little bit of an opportunity to be mean to the guys at times instead of buddy, buddy,” Dewar said. “Usually the guys are leaning on us against Dennis, so we’ll be leaning on the coaches against them for awhile here.”
Everett is presented with two key games against U.S. Division opponents, with the Silvertips hosting Tri-City at Angel of the Winds Arena on Friday and travel to Spokane for a tilt with the Chiefs at the Spokane Arena.
The Silvertips (10-5-0-0) sit atop the division with 20 points, but aren’t blessed with much breathing room. The last place team, Portland, is just five points behind. The Chiefs are second at 19 points and the Americans are third at 18.
Dewar said he believes Everett made a statement with its 4-2 road trip. Obtaining four points in games against Tri-City and Spokane would accentuate that statement.
“It’s so close and so tight. It is every year,” Dewar said. “I personally think the U.S. Division is the best division in the league and I think everyone would agree with me.”