EVERETT — Overagers are a difficult proposition in the Western Hockey League.
On the one hand, they have to be good enough to beat out competition, given the limits on the number of overager each team is allowed. On the other hand, they’re also the players who weren’t deemed good enough to play professionally as 20-year-olds. As a result, the value of a team’s overagers is often a crapshoot.
Not so for the Everett Silvertips this season. Everett had true impact players for overagers and their presence will be missed.
Clayton Bauer, left wing
Bauer spent less than five months with Tips, arriving in a November trade. But during that short time the Kelowna, B.C., native provided some much-needed secondary scoring, particularly cleaning up the garbage in front of net. In 51 games with the Tips Bauer found the net 21 times, a goal rate that was third-best on the team.
“I really enjoyed it,” Bauer said of his brief time in Everett. “I thought I came here and started playing better hockey. I guess it helped me become a better person and a better player.”
Bauer had something of a nomadic WHL career, playing for four different teams in four years. However, those stops included some of the league’s finest outposts. As a rookie with Kelowna in 2004-05 he won a league title and traveled to the Memorial Cup. He was also part of a Kootenay team that racked up 104 points in 2006-07.
“It was an awesome experience,” Bauer said of his WHL career. “It was a great four years, through all the travels and times I had. And going to the Mem Cup my first year is a memory you can’t take away.”
Bauer said he’ll look into professional possibilities this summer, but if that doesn’t work out he’ll probably play collegiately in Canada.
Dane Crowley, defenseman
Crowley became a key cog at the back during his 11/2 seasons in Everett. From the moment he arrived at the trade deadline last season the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native was one of the Tips’ top defensemen. This season, with the Tips suffering a slew of injuries on defense, Crowley logged plenty of ice time. He finished with 10 goals and 19 assists in 66 games, receiving the Coaches Award for his efforts.
“Overall I thought I had a good season,” Crowley said. “I had a couple ups and downs, a couple personal issues. But when I look back on it I think I had a pretty good year.”
Crowley also saw his share of the league, playing for three teams during his five seasons. But he said he was glad his career ended in Everett.
“It was a lot of fun,” Crowley said. “I was so glad I got traded here. It’s a really nice town, great fans, great team. I think this organization made me better prepared to be a professional.”
The professional ranks are the next step for Crowley. A sixth-round pick in the 2006 NHL draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crowley has until June 1 to sign before the Lightning surrenders his rights. Crowley said he and Tampa Bay were close to getting a deal done so that he could finish this season with the Norfolk Admirals, Tampa Bay’s American Hockey League affiliate. However, the deal fell through and he won’t be going to Norfolk.
At least not until next season.
Dan Gendur, right wing
Gendur came to Everett as a footnote, an anonymous player obtained a year-and-a-half ago for the paltry sum of a sixth-round pick in the bantam draft.
Since then, the native of Victoria, B.C., has scored 126 points in 108 games, been drafted by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and been voted the team’s MVP for the recently-completed season.
Not bad for a player who in 21/2 seasons in Prince George could never catch a break.
“You’ve got to get an opportunity and I got an opportunity here in Everett,” Gendur said. “I got to play with some premier players like Zach Hamill, Kyle Beach, Clayton Bauer, Ondrej Fiala, Peter Mueller, the list goes on and on. It was definitely fun coming here and I’m definitely going to be discussing my memories of Everett with my kids when I’m older.”
Gendur truly came into his own this season, when he notched 84 points (29 goals, 55 assists) in 60 games to finish eighth in the league in scoring and put himself on the map as a pro prospect.
Gendur hasn’t yet gotten the call to join one of Vancouver’s minor-league affiliates, and he hasn’t yet signed a contract with the team that took him in the seventh round of last year’s NHL draft. But in his transformation from suspect to prospect he knows what he needs to do to take the next step.
“I’ve just got to buckle down during the summer,” Gendur said. “I’ve got to train as hard as I did last summer and come with the same confidence I came in here with last camp.”