The Silvertips improved to 2-0 against the Thunderbirds this season after a 5-1 win at the ShoWare Center on Saturday. I was on hand for the game and you can read the recap here.
Here are the three takeaways:
Defensive depth is overpowering: With the addition of Artyom Minulin, the Silvertips possess five bonafide top-four defenseman in Wyatte Wylie, Jake Christiansen, Gianni Fairbrother, Sahvan Khaira and Minulin. In addition, the team has two young up-and-comers in Ian Walker and Ronan Seeley.
A strong defense that’s more than capable of making strong offensive plays, too.
Take Everett’s first period for example. The Silvertips didn’t allow the Thunderbirds to record a shot on goal until the final minute of the opening period. That domination starts on the backend and it makes everyone better.
“There are a lot of factors for our success, but to me I’d say the prevailing thing is just using our depth,” assistant coach Louis Mass said. “We’ve had contributions from guys up and down our lineup and I think that’s really important for us.”
“Our D have really been the backbone of our group and we’ve been driving offense from getting out of the zone well, but everyone’s contributing.”
Positive early returns for Minulin: Minulin, who the Silvertips acquired in a trade with Swift Current on Oct. 29, was pegged as “a high quality player” to Everett, and the 20-year-old defenseman has lived up to the billing.
“He’s been outstanding,” Mass said. “He’s adjusted really well, really quick for a guy that has been out for a bit. It’s surprising to see someone step in as be as sharp as he is. He just manages the puck very well and from the backside of the game, the quicker you can exit your zone with control and possession, you’re going to be in good shape. He really helps us there. And I think he’s made his partner better too.”
The Russia native has immediately teamed up with 19-year-old Wylie on the Silvertips’ power-play units. On the ice, thus far, it’s been a seamless transition, despite Minulin not playing for the first month of the season with an upper-body injury.
“I’m still feeling a little bit weird after being traded and after a long break,” Minulin said. “But things are going pretty good.”
However, there will be some growing pains for Minulin in terms of adjusting to his new team. But Minulin, a veteran puckmover with Memorial Cup experience, won’t dwell on his past with the Broncos.
“I was really excited to get started (in Everett) and I’m really sad I won’t live in Swift Current where I spent three years in junior hockey, but I have to move forward and I’m really excited to be a Silvertip,” he said.
Secondary scoring evolving: After Akash Bains potted a pair of goals and Jackson Berezowski chipped in another Friday night, Jalen Price scored his first of the season in the win on Saturday.
More contributions from more players will mean more success moving forward, say Silvertips captain Connor Dewar.
“We’ve been growing on a team and counting on everyone to produce,” he said. “It’s really special and it’s a lot of fun.
“It’s really important over a long season, 68 games. It can’t be the same guys every night. It’s nice to see the young guys getting rewarded and getting involved with everything they do in our rink and don’t get the credit for.”
Mass on team play style: “Out of our whole lineup, everybody is in the mix. Big or small, we don’t have anyone that is scared. If teams want to play that way, we can handle it and if teams want to play fast and offensively, we can do the same. That’s what’s great about our group, we have guys that our offensively faceted.”
Minulin on being on team he defeated last year in WHL Finals: “I mean, last season is over, so we have to move on.”
Minulin (cont.): “I’m really excited. I hope we’re going to make it real far in the playoff and we’re going to have a chance to win the championship. I’m just looking forward to playing the next game tomorrow in Kamloops.