EVERETT — Matt Ius envisions himself as a scorer. The Everett Silvertips wanted him to be a checker. That difference in opinion finally came to a head.
Citing both the desire for a more prominent role as well as a diminishing passion for the game, Ius left the team Thursday. The 18-year-old right wing, one of Everett’s key defensive forwards and penalty killers, has returned home to Pitt Meadows, B.C., where he will reassess his hockey future.
“I just felt I wanted to be more of a go-to guy,” Ius said. “Everett has such good young talent that I think the team is headed in the right direction, and the right decision for me was to move forward on my own. I wish the Silvertips nothing but the best.”
Ius’ departure leaves Everett with just six veteran forwards as the youthful Tips continue to get younger.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Ius was Everett’s second-round pick in the 2005 bantam draft, and he was a prolific goal scorer at the bantam level. However, those offensive abilities never got on track in Everett. In 87 career games with the Tips, he tallied seven goals and eight assists, and he was used almost exclusively as a checking forward.
This season, Ius saw some time on the power play, but had just three goals and no assists in 10 games. And with the emergence of 17-year-old rookies Kellan Tochkin, Byron Froese and Tyler Maxwell as offensive contributors, Ius’ chances of moving into an attacking role dwindled.
Everett general manager Doug Soetaert said discussions between Ius and the team about his role have been going on for some time.
“It’s not surprising, you could see it coming,” Soetaert said. “His play had deteriorated from the beginning of the season. It’s unfortunate because Matt is a very good kid.
“He’s been given every opportunity here and he’s been given big roles. He’s just not having fun because there’s guys who have passed him,” Soetaert added. “That’s the way it is in this game, there’s no entitlement here.”
Ius did not request a trade. Instead, he expressed the desire to drop down a level to the junior A British Columbia Hockey League, where he could rebuild his confidence.
“I’m going to go home, talk with my family and find out where I’m at,” Ius said. “I lost a little passion for the game and I’m hoping to find that passion again. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll play in the BCHL where I can be a go-to guy, a power-play guy and build my confidence back up.
“It’s nothing against Everett, this is all me,” Ius added. “I’ve been given plenty of opportunities and I haven’t taken advantage of those opportunities. So my family and I felt it was time for a change.”
However, joining a BCHL team won’t be immediately possible since the Tips placed Ius on their suspended list, which prevents a player from joining a different league. Soetaert said he would try to trade Ius, presumably to a team where he’d have more of an offensive role, but that it would be a difficult task.
Meanwhile, the Tips have to find someone to full Ius’ shoes.
“Obviously it’s a big loss,” said Tips captain Zack Dailey, a frequent linemate of Ius. “He’s one of our key players on the penalty kill and five-on-five. He works hard and has some offensive upside. But all-in-all it’s about him and if he’s not happy here then he needs to go where he’s happy. We support him, but we hate to lose him.”
With eight of Everett’s remaining 14 forwards being rookies, it’s likely a young player will have to step up and fill the void.
“We didn’t have a lot of returning players to start out with, and we’ve slowly lost one-by-one,” Everett coach John Becanic said. “Right now we’ve got guys who have replaced our offense, but we’ve yet to really find someone who can play that shutdown role, and I felt Matty had the potential to be a really good shutdown-type player in this league. And he’s a penalty killer and our penalty killing’s been struggling, so that doesn’t help there.”
Before departing Ius expressed his appreciation for his time in Everett.
“I just want to say thank you to the team, the fans and my billet family for all their support,” Ius said. “I’ll never forget playing here, but it’s time for a change.”
Beach selected for Canada-Russia Series: Everett left wing Kyle Beach was one of 25 players selected to represent the WHL in this year’s Canada-Russia Challenge, the league announced Thursday.
The Canada-Russia Challenge is an event used to evaluate Canadian prospects for the World Junior Hockey Championships. The WHL team will face a Russian all-star team on Nov. 26 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and Nov. 27 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Beach is expected to play in both games.
Beach became the fifth player in Everett history chosen to play in the Canada-Russia Challenge, joining forwards Zach Hamill and Brady Calla, defenseman Taylor Ellington and goaltender Leland Irving. Irving is the only one who eventually went on to represent Canada at World Juniors.
Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog