EVERETT — Wyatte Wylie isn’t the first Snohomish County athlete selected in the WHL bantam draft by the Silvertips or the first former Everett Youth Hockey player signed by Everett.
But on Wednesday, Wylie became the first Snohomish County native as well as the first former Everett Youth Hockey player to be both drafted and signed by the Silvertips, as the 16-year-old inked his WHL standard player agreement with the team he grew up watching.
“It’s awesome,” said Wylie, who was at Wednesday’s game against Kelowna at Xfinity Arena and will stay through the weekend. “I’ve been waiting for this day for awhile and it feels great that it’s finally happening. I’m ready to get it going.”
Wylie’s former Everett Junior Silvertips U-16 AAA midget teammate Sean Mallonee, a Kennewick native, became the first EYH player to sign and play for the Tips this season though he wasn’t drafted. Mallonee appeared in four games this season before being reassigned to the North Iowa Bulls.
The Tips picked Mill Creek defenseman Daniel Woolfenden in the seventh round in 2012, and took Stanwood defenseman Connor Nobach in the fifth round in 2013, but neither played for Everett Youth Hockey or for the Silvertips. Wylie was taken in the sixth round (128th overall) of the 2014 draft.
Wylie, a six-foot, 192-pound defenseman attended Arlington High School last year while playing for the Junior Silvertips. This year he is enrolled at school in Texas while playing for the Dallas Stars Tier 1 Elite U-16 team. The Stars recently won the Texas state title and are headed to the Rocky Mountain Tier 1 Regional Tournament next month in Denver.
The Silvertips took over Everett Youth Hockey two years ago with the goal of “growing the game” in the area and with the goal of keeping elite talent local. Wylie participated in Silvertips training camp each of the past two seasons and impressed the Tips brass with his performances.
“I thought he had a solid camp,” Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said. “He had to leave here a little earlier than we wanted because he had to get to Dallas to play with his team and get on with school. But I had a chance to watch him in Minnesota two weeks ago and I see a guy who has definitely seen his game grow and develop and again, he’s put himself in position to play here.”
As an affiliated American player Wylie is allowed to play in just six games for the Tips this season. That includes regular and postseason games. Wylie said he wasn’t sure if he would suit up this weekend, but the plan is for him to return to Everett when his Dallas team’s season concludes.
Wylie has four goals and seven assists in 32 games this season.
“I’m super happy with the decision I made to go to Dallas,” he said. “I just had to have these guys watch me before I made my decision to make sure I was up to the level they wanted me at, and I felt like it was a great year.”
Wylie, and his older brother, Wade, were originally speedskaters before stumbling into hockey. They quickly eschewed the oval once they discovered the rink and having the Silvertips in their backyard helped drive their desire to play hockey.
“I think his instincts for the game are pretty good too and I think that’s probably because he has grown up here and has a chance to watch the Silvertips play as a young guy,” Davidson said. “That isn’t always afforded to other American kids because they’re not in a marketplace with a major junior team.”
The Silvertips (35-20-3-2, 75 points) return to action with another string of three games in three nights beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday with a matchup against the Kamloops Blazers. Everett is 3-0 against Kamloops this season, but all three games have been decided by one goal.
That’s nothing out of the ordinary for the Tips, who are looking to bounce back from a wild 6-5 overtime home loss to the Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday.
The Blazers (27-24-5-4, 63 points) are 4-5-0-1 in their past 10 games and tenuously clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a two-point lead on the surging Tri-City Americans.
Collin Shirley (32 goals, 33 assists) is the top point producer for the Blazers, who will be without second-leading scorer Matt Needham (17 goals, 35 assists) because of a one-game suspension. Gage Quinney (24 goals, 27 assists), Deven Sideroff (17 goals, 33 assists) and Matt Revel (17 goals, 25 assists) are also key offensive performers.
The Tips play the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday in Kent and conclude the weekend by playing host to Tri-City on Sunday.
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter @jessegeleynse.