EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips came away with a pretty big haul from their longest road trip of the season, grabbing eight points from a possible 12 during their six-game trek through the Western Hockey League’s East Division.
However, the source of Everett’s success wasn’t just the Tips’ skills and abilities, their willpower and work ethic. Everett also had a secret weapon it unveiled during the trip.
The Tips had the power of the ‘stache.
Everett’s players geared up for the trip by growing mustaches en masse, and the Tips believe the mustaches deserve their share of credit for Everett’s performances on the road.
“Absolutely it was the mustache,” quipped winger Kyle Beach, who with his mustache looks like he stepped straight off the set of a 1970s television drama. “We couldn’t have done it without them. It kept our upper lip warm when we were out there in the cold, so definitely the points came from the mustaches.”
Everett’s captains made it mandatory for all the players to grow mustaches during the two-week road trip. The experiment went so well that several of the players are still sporting theirs, even though the trip has concluded.
“It started off as something to do for the road trip, it’s obviously escalated now,” said defenseman Taylor Ellington, who along with Beach and defenseman Mike Alexander has vowed to maintain his mustache until at least Christmas. “I like it, I’m keeping it now.”
The concept originated with a moment of forgetfulness. When Beach left for training camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks in September, he forgot to pack his razor. By the time he got around to finding a replacement, his facial hair had grown enough that he decided to see how he looked with just a mustache. The look went over so well with his Chicago teammates that he decided to bring it back to Everett.
Beach’s mustache proved an inspiration to some of Everett’s other veterans, who started growing their own. When assistant coach Mark LeRose made an off-the-cuff remark that everyone should grow one for the road trip, the suggestion made in jest soon became a reality. The players even broke out the Just For Men coloring dye to make sure the mustaches stood out that much more.
“Everyone was into it and if somebody shaved it there was going to be a big punishment for them,” Alexander said. “Everyone was a good sport about it and everyone did it well.”
The mustaches became quite the hit, not only with the Tips but their opponents and the fans.
“I was surprised how many people really noticed it,” Alexander said. “I’d say I heard at least two comments a game from each team we played, and they were all good. And I heard the fans were giving it to us in Swift Current, making fun of our mustaches.”
Of course, just about all of Everett’s players are teenagers, meaning they had varying degress of success in cultivating their ‘staches. Many of the older guys, such as Graham Potuer, Ellington, Alexander and Beach, had little problem and have taken great pride in their mustaches.
“Oh, it’s good,” a smirking Beach answered when asked to evaluate his own. “Girls love it. That’s really all that matters.”
But not everyone ellicited praise for their mustache-growing abilities. Some opinions on their teammates’ mustaches:
Beach: “I’d have to say (Zack) Dailey’s was the most atrocious. When you can only grow two little patches on the ends of your lips it’s got to be the worst.”
Potuer: “There’s guys like Kyle Beach, it doesn’t look like him, I guess. Just a black line across his face.”
Alexander: “I’d have to say the most out of the ordinary is probably Shane Harper. When he grew it there were probably 20 hairs, you could have counted them. It just looked hilarious.”
Alexander again: “You couldn’t really tell with (Shayne) Barrie. We always thought he shaved it so we were going to punish him, but actually he didn’t really shave it.”
But while the players may poke fun at one another over their mustaches, the endeavor has succeeded in its goal: bringing the team closer together.
“Some guys did good, some guys did not very good, but everyone tried to grow it, that’s the whole thing,” Ellington said. “It was a team-bonding experience. It brought guys closer together, as weird as it seems that something that small could do that.”
And as well as it went over this season, don’t be surprised to see mustaches sprouting again around the time the Tips are getting ready for their long road trip next season.
“I think that’s going to be a trend from now on,” Alexander said. “Next year and the years to come I think each road trip is going to be mandatory mustaches once again.”
Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog