Casey Bryant couldn’t have gotten a much better introduction to life as a member of the Everett Silvertips organization.
The Silvertips’ new radio broadcaster made his debut over the weekend, and not only did he get to call two wins, they consisted of an overtime thriller and a shutout against Everett’s archrival.
Everett continued its perfect start to the season with a pair of victories against the Seattle Thunderbirds, winning 5-4 in OT Friday in Kent and prevailing 3-0 Saturday at Angel of the Winds Arena.
So Bryant had plenty of positives to work with in his first two broadcasts.
“It’s been terrific,” Bryant said of his first impressions of Everett and the organization. “The city itself has such a great energy to it. The fan base is so engaged with the team, that comes from being a well-established organization. But getting my first taste of home hockey action Saturday night was something I’ll never forget. The fan base was so into the action from the moment they walked into the building, it was intoxicating. That’s something you can feed off of and really work with. When your job is to connect with the fan base and the fan base wants that connection, it makes the game so much easier and fun. It’s been truly fantastic.”
The Silvertips found themselves in need of a new broadcaster just before the season began as Mike Benton, who spent the previous six seasons behind the microphone for the Tips, was hired by Seattle radio station KJR to serve as the pregame, intermission and postgame host for the station’s Seattle Kraken broadcasts.
Bryant, a 26-year-old native of Lagrangeville, New York, had been in Danville, Illinois, working behind the scenes with the Vermilion County Bobcats of the Southern Professional Hockey League as the Bobcats prepared for their inaugural season. With the Tips needing someone on short notice, it was a whirlwind turnaround for Bryant.
But after traveling cross country Bryant is now settled in, and he was dropped straight into the middle of the Everett-Seattle rivalry. He was treated to an exciting and feisty encounter Friday night in which neither team led by more than one goal, then watched Everett shut out their rivals the following night, despite the unavailability of top center Michal Gut because of an undisclosed minor injury (he’s since returned to practice), to improve to 4-0-0-0.
“That was a great way to be thrown right in,” Bryant said. “Your job as a broadcaster is to be a story teller, and when you’re handed something right off the bat it makes it much easier for you. There were plenty of penalties, a game misconduct, a fight after the final horn, that you were able to get evidence of the rivalry.”
And now Bryant is a part of it.
Three stars of the week
Third star: Koen MacInnes. The 19-year-old goaltender stopped all 31 shots he faced in Saturday’s victory, especially early in the contest when Seattle pressured the Everett goal — his efforts earned him WHL Goaltender of the Week honors. Both he and Braden Holt have made two starts in goal, both have two wins, and both have posted a shutout. It’s, “Game on!” in the battle to be Everett’s No. 1 netminder.
Second star: Olen Zellweger. The 18-year-old defenseman made his season debut after missing the first two games while at training camp with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, and he wasted no time settling back in, notching a goal, two assists and posting a plus-3 rating in the two contests. His goal was a highlight-reel backhander on the rush.
First star: Ben Hemmerling. The 17-year-old winger had the game of his WHL career Friday, posting two goals and two assists. And they weren’t empty points. He set up the game-tying goal late in the third period by stealing the puck behind the Seattle net and feeding Alex Swetlikoff for a short-handed strike. Then he scored the game winner in OT by putting in a rebound of a Zellweger shot.
The week ahead
It’s another two-game week for Everett, and it’s another case of facing the same team twice on back-to-back nights. The difference this time is it’s the Portland Winterhawks and both games are on the road, taking place Friday and Saturday at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.
Portland sits in second place in the U.S. Division at 3-2-0-1, one point behind the Tips — though Everett has played two fewer games. The Winterhawks remain without their biggest weapon, 19-year-old forward Seth Jarvis, who’s still with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. In Jarvis’ absence, 19-year-old winger Cross Hanas (two goals, four assists) has been Portland’s top offensive threat, while 19-year-old Dante Giannuzzi (2-2-0-1, 2.76 goals against average, .899 save percentage) has reeived the lion’s share of the work in net.