EVERETT — Wyatte Wylie and Luke Ormsby first encountered one another at what was then Comcast Arena.
It wasn’t on the big rink, but rather on the community rink when booth were in elementary school and learning to skate with their fathers at Stick and Puck.
“Those are the good times,” Wylie said. “My brother (Wade) was out there with us, just playing and getting better, trying to do everything NHL players do out there.”
Ormsby and Wylie played together on youth teams before the two parted ways as so often happens for elite youth hockey players in Snohomish County. Ormsby headed south to Los Angeles and Phoenix, while Wylie stayed local with the Junior Silvertips before spending a year with the Dallas Stars U-16 team.
But now the two local natives and longtime friends have been reunited. A trade with Seattle brought Ormsby to the Silvertips in November and he’s been a fixture in the lineup ever since.
“You could ask me a million times and I would have thought there’s no way I would ever be here, but I’m so happy it turned out this way,” Ormsby said. “(Wylie gave me) a big hug when I came to the rink. It was pretty awesome.”
That both Ormsby and Wylie have reached the WHL level is a testament to how far youth hockey has come in Snohomish County, and the commitment the Tips have made to making that happen. The Tips took over the Everett Youth Hockey program in 2014 and have since hired former NHL enforcer Turner Stevenson to coach the U-16 and U-18 Junior Silvertips teams.
Current Silvertip forward Dawson Butt is a former Junior Silvertips player, as is forward Hunter Campbell, an Everett native now playing for the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL’s Central Division.
“We’re so fortunate to be able to set the stage and set the bar for all these local guys,” said Ormsby, whose parents relocated to Arizona when he played for the Junior Coyotes. “I’d love to see more local guys. I see them around the rink, the Junior Silvertips locker room is right over there. It’s awesome to see and it’s something I want to see more grow. I want to be able to look down here in a couple years and see there’s four or five kids. That’s the way it should be, and the community has really done a great job of incorporating more kids into the program and it seems like it’s starting to take off.”
The Seattle Thunderbirds took Ormsby in the ninth round of the 2014 bantam draft and he became the first Snohomish County-born WHL player ever when he debuted in four games with the T-birds during the 2015-16 season. Last season Ormsby scored six goals — including one against the Silvertips — and had five assists in 65 games as the T-birds won the WHL championship.
The Silvertips took Wylie in the sixth round of the same 2014 draft and he appeared in one game during the 2016 WHL playoffs before appearing in 71 regular-season games as a 17-year-old rookie defenseman last season.
The more reserved Wylie tends to let his on-ice play do the talking. The gregarious Ormsby is known to “chirp” opposing players. He did so as a T-bird and he’s continued to do so in the dozen games he’s played since he was acquired from Seattle.
“He gets under your skin a lot when you’re not on his team,” Wylie said. “He gets the other team angry, and he’s a very fast skater.”
Ormsby’s arrival coincided with a strong push by Everett as the Tips have fashioned a 9-3-0-1 record since he joined the roster. Of course they also got goaltenders Carter Hart and Dustin Wolf back during that same stretch, but Ormsby has filled a critical role as the Tips have dealt with injuries and suspensions during a busy schedule.
“When you make trades you always want to make sure you fit into the team and into the locker room, and he jells right in there with the guys,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “He brings his energy (and) he’s hard on pucks, he’s physical. We’ve got him slotted playing a bit of a checking role right now that I think he’s doing a great job of, and as we get more practice, we will look to get him into more of a penalty-killing role as well.”
The Tips (15-12-1-1, 32 points) put their five-game winning streak on the line at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday against Western Conference-leading Portland at Xfinity Arena.
Everett is looking for its second win in four tries against the Winterhawks this season and the Tips are pleased to have local talent helping in the effort.
“I’ve never felt this type of environment in my career in hockey,” Ormsby said. “It’s such a sense of family, everybody loves each other, the way they brought me on I could have never imagined. That’s what I’m so thankful for is the way they brought me on and the way the guys treat each other around the rink. There’s not really that vet-rookie type deal. There’s an essence that everyone is a big family, and that’s huge, and it will be huge going on the rest of the season.”
Hart was named the CHL Goaltender of the Week for the second straight week, the league announced Tuesday. Hart has also won the WHL Goaltender of the Week award three consecutive weeks.
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