EVERETT — Ronan Seeley’s days of sitting on press row as a healthy scratch are numbered for the time being.
Not that Seeley hasn’t suited up plenty for the Silvertips this season — the 16-year-old defenseman has played in 26 of Everett’s 41 games. But with Ian Walker week-to-week with an upper-body injury sustained Saturday against Tri-City, Everett has no choice but to play Seeley.
It’s not a proposition that gives Dennis Williams, the Silvertips head coach, much trepidation.
“I think he’s had shots all year. Every day in practice, in the gym, in video,” Williams said. “He’s played lots of minutes this year and he’s done a good job.”
Seeley, listed at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, has gone through the trials and tribulations most 16-year-old rookies go through in the Western Hockey League as they adjust to competing against older, more physically mature players. But he’s shown flashes of brilliance this season, especially in Everett’s offensive zone.
“That’s always going to be the challenge with any kid coming in,” Williams said. “Like over the weekend, against Kamloops he got knocked off the puck number of times.
“That’s going to come with time and that’s what you expect with younger players.”
Since Everett’s acquisition of Artyom Minulin, the Silvertips’ three defensive pairings have been largely the same, with Minulin teaming up with 19-year-old Wyatte Wylie, overager Sahvan Khaira, and 19-year-old Jake Christiansen pairing with Gianni Fairbrother and Walker. Seeley, who often suited up as a seventh defenseman, was mixed in for periodic shifts, often with Wylie.
Williams indicated Seeley and Wylie will be paired up while Walker is on the shelf, like they were Sunday against Kamloops, with Wylie moving back to his strongside — he’s a right-handed shot but is very comfortable playing on his offside — to complement the left-handed Seeley. Minulin likely will match with Christiansen, and Fairbrother will play with Khaira.
Williams said he’s been impressed with how some of the older defensemen have tutored Seeley this season. Seeley said he’s appreciative of the support he’s received from his fellow defensive-core, four of whom are 19 years or older
“They’ve all been in the position I’ve been in today,” Seeley said. “Whenever they see me down about not playing, they always pick me up and give me pointers about stuff on and off the ice.”
Added Seeley: “It’s a great opportunity for me to prove myself that I can play big minutes. Especially for next year, it gives the coaches more confidence in me and for myself too.”
Patterson new go-to guy in faceoff circle
Max Patterson, acquired by Everett in December from Swift Current, enjoyed a successful weekend in the faceoff circle, winning 31 of his 52 draws over three games, a 59.6 percent clip. It was capped with a 9-for-12 performance against Kamloops on Sunday.
“He did a really good job on draws,” Williams said. “He takes pride in it, he’s strong, has good leverage. With Suttsy out, we’ve chased the game a lot by not winning draws, Dewar isn’t a natural centerman, Reece works hard he just loses some physical battles, so we’re relying on a guy like Patty (Patterson) like we did Riley early in the year.”
The Silvertips acquired the 6-foot-4 forward with hopes that he could be a centerman for the team moving forward. He played primarily along the right wall until Riley Sutter, Everett’s No. 1 center, was injured on Dec. 29 against Prince George and forced him into the middle for good.
Williams noted he was out of shape early in his stint with Everett, but after witnessing him over the weekend, Williams had nothing but praise for the 19-year-old from Kamloops.
“We always envisioned him to be a centerman,” Williams said. “But we also like that flex player, where he can go to the wing too.
“He’s been a heckuva player. His playmaking, his vision (is great) … I really liked him playing with Zack Andrusiak and finding him out there. He’s just a really dependable three-zone player for us.”
Injury report/roster updates
— There’s still no major update on Sutter, other than there are still some X-rays that need to be conducted, according to Davidson. The 19-year-old center boasts 14 goals and a team-high 27 assists this year.
— Walker was added to the injury report with an upper-body injury sustained Saturday against Tri-City. He’s week-to-week.
— Forward Bronson Sharp (concussion) is still home in Mission, BC. He’s been on injured reserved retroactive to Oct. 13 with a concussion.
— Import forward Peter Melcher was placed on waivers by the Silvertips and wasn’t claimed, according to Davidson. He’s no longer on Everett’s roster and will re-enter Canadian Hockey League import draft in 2019. Melcher sustained a concussion in the preseason and never suited up for the Silvertips.
— 15-year-old defenseman Olen Zellweger was reassigned to his midget team, OHA Edmonton of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL), on Monday. He was a healthy scratch for five games.
Said Williams: “It was really good for us and him. He’s not the biggest fella there, but really skilled. Just a rink rat and got along with the guys great. It was great to have him out here and see what it’s all about and see what the atmosphere is about, got to go on the road and check out other rinks and play in practices and sit in on video and stuff like that.”