Silvertips overage forward Sean Richards was issued an eight-game suspension Tuesday for a major boarding penalty on Seattle’s Loeden Schaufler during Everett’s 2-1 win at Kent on Saturday, according to the Western Hockey League’s discipline report.
It’s the fifth suspension handed to Richards in the past two seasons and his second in 2018-2019. He was slapped with a five-game suspension for a check to the head major penalty on Reece Harsch of Seattle on Oct. 5.
Richards has been labeled a repeat offender by the WHL and his actions on the ice are more scrutinized than other players by the league office. The fact Schaufler was injured because of the hit also was considered, per the WHL’s discipline report.
The struggle moving forward for Richards is striking a balance between maintaining his aggressive style of play and refraining from subjecting himself to suspension-worthy actions.
“Obviously, you can’t put yourself in those situations when you are categorized as (a repeat offender),” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “You see it in every sport — NHL, NFL, anyone that has those (labels) have to play a little more cautious and slow up and hold up at times, even though it might be a good hit. You just don’t know what’s going to happen on the ice. You can’t put those decisions on the officials. You have to control your own play out there.”
Richards won’t suit up for the Silvertips until Jan. 6 against Kamloops.
Everett is tied with Prince George for the most player suspensions issued this season with five. Richards’ eight-game suspension is the longest issued by the WHL this season (Regina’s Parker Gavlas was handed a six-game suspension on Sept. 13) and the longest since Prince George’s Sam Ruopp was handed an eight-game suspension on Nov. 4, 2016, for his involvement in a fight.
This is the sixth time a Silvertips player has been suspended for an incident against the Thunderbirds in two seasons, three courtesy of Richards.
Williams said that while Richards is frequently unavailable due to disciplinary reasons, he appreciates his presence on the ice and in the dressing room.
“He plays the game hard,” Williams said. “Like I always tell people, I’d much rather have someone that plays the game hard than trying to motivate and have them go out there and bring the energy that Richie (Richards) does. He brings an honest effort, and he doesn’t go out trying to hurt guys.
“He’s a good teammate. He wants to play and he feels bad about the hit and he’s obviously got to pay the price for the hit, but that’s the way the game goes, and it’s unfortunate.”
The 20-year-old’s absence is significant because two of Everett forwards, Martin Fasko-Rudas and Akash Bains, are nursing injuries. The Silvertips suited just 10 forwards during their 2-0 shutout of Spokane on Sunday.
“You lose anybody, it’s not good,” Williams said after Sunday’s win, “but (Richards) made the hit.”
The Silvertips will have their work cut out for them in their upcoming two games. On Wednesday, Everett travels across Interstate-90 for a tilt with Spokane — it’s the Silvertips’ fourth meeting with the Chiefs in their last six games — before heading to Vancouver on Friday.
Williams praised Everett’s young contingent of forwards for stepping up on Sunday. The upcoming stretch presents another opportunity for the Silvertips’ rookies to make an impression on the coaching staff.
“Unfortunately guys are injured and out or suspended, but it gives guys chances and play different roles,” Williams said. “We did a great job over the weekend, and we have to see if we can keep that consistency.”
Everett’s roster isn’t much less experienced, but it does boast a younger flavor than last year, when Reece Vitelli and Fasko-Rudas were major contributors.
Sixteen-year-old rookies Jackson Berezowski and Ronan Seeley have made regular appearances for the Silvertips this season, and 17-year-olds Conrad Mitchell, Gage Goncalves and Jalen Price have each chipped in plenty on Everett’s third and fourth lines.
Williams said he’s been pleased with the development from his younger crop of players.
“They all want it to come quick and easy when they jump levels, but sometimes it takes a bit,” he said, “but they’ve been progressing in a positive traction and manner. I think some of those guys have wanted it to come quicker, but I think we all do. When the game starts to slow down, they start to make plays and handle pucks a little bit more.
“It’s nice to see them be able to contribute and play those big shifts.”
Wolf picks up another award
After being named the WHL goaltender of the week on Monday, Dustin Wolf was named the Central Hockey League’s goaltender of the week on Tuesday. It’s his first honor from the CHL this season. He’s the third WHL netminder to win the weekly award in 2018-2019, joining Vancouver’s Trent Miner and Prince Albert’s Ian Scott.
Fasko-Rudas is listed out three-to-five days with an upper-body injury, per the Western Hockey League’s weekly report, and did not participate in Silvertips practice on Tuesday. He left the Silvertips’ Dec. 5 win over Spokane after a crushing hit in the neutral zone from Chiefs’ defenseman Egor Arbuzov in the first period and did not return. … Bains is listed as day-to-day and participated in Tuesday’s practice.