Silvertips take on Chiefs in home opener on Saturday night

EVERETT — There is a new scoreboard, a new banner and a new reigning U.S. Division champion at Xfinity Arena.

All will officially be unveiled Saturday night as the Everett Silvertips play host to the Spokane Chiefs in the Tips’ home opener beginning at 7:05 p.m. at Xfinity Arena. The homestand continues Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. against Prince Albert.

“I think the boys are all excited to play at home for sure,” 18-year-old defenseman Noah Juulsen said. “We just need to keep playing the way we played the other night (Sunday’s 3-1 win at Portland).”

Fans have already had a preseason glimpse at the state-of-the-art high-definition scoreboard above center ice and the 2014-15 division champion banner in the rafters.

However, it will be the first home appearance for Juulsen, the 2015 first round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens. Juulsen suffered an off-ice concussion prior to Silvertips training camp and did not skate at any of the preseason games.

He then went to camp with Montreal and was finally cleared in time for last Thursday’s preseason game in which he tallied two shots in 13 minutes of ice time. Juulsen was returned to the Tips in time for Everett’s win at Portland.

“It’s what I expected,” Juulsen said. “It was nice to be up there for as long as I was. They gave me a preseason game which was amazing. I knew I’d be coming back after that for sure.”

The season may be just three games old, but the Silvertips (2-1-0-0) received a lift with Juulsen’s return. The Abbotsford, B.C., native scored the go-ahead goal in his first game back and adds a veteran presence to a young Tips squad that has five 16-year-olds on the roster.

Everett also saw the return of captain Dawson Leedahl in Portland after he missed the second game in Prince George due to injury.

“(Those are) two very important pieces of our as puzzle evidenced by Noah’s goal,” head coach Kevin Constantine said. “Just (Juulsen’s) presence and specifically the goal he scored were very important for us.”

The Chiefs entered Friday’s game at Portland with a 3-2-0-0 record and in fourth place in the Western Conference.

Spokane, which Everett eliminated in the first round of last year’s playoffs, is led by the nine points of Spokane native Kailer Yamamoto (one goal, eight assists) and the eight points of Dominic Zwerger (four goals, four assists). Jason Fram, Hudson Elynuik and highly touted rookie Jaret Anderson-Dolan all have scored three times.

Tyson Verhelst has been the most consistent goaltender for Spokane with a 3-0-0-0 record with a 1.72 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in four games.

The Chiefs will be without right winger Riley Whittingham who has been suspended for three games under the league’s supplemental discipline policy. Whittingham has one assist in four games so far this season. Jacob Cardiff is also serving a three-game suspension and will not be available. Cardiff hasn’t registered a point in two games.

Prince Albert entered today’s game at Seattle with a 4-1-0-0 record and in second place among the Eastern Conference contenders.

Reid Gardiner (five goals, five assists) and Simon Stransky (two goals, eight assists) are the top offensive performers for Prince Albert. Jordan Tkatch also has four goals and three assists.

Ian Scott (2-0-0-0, 3.62 GAA, .883 save percentage) and Rylan Parenteau (2-1-0-0, 5.25 GAA, .841) have each appeared in three games at goaltender.

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