Tuulola finding a home on Everett Silvertips’ second line

Eetu Tuulola had a chaotic beginning to his first WHL season.

The Finnish-born forward showed promise with a pair of goals in the preseason, then left to attend Calgary’s NHL training camp. After returning to Everett, he played in just two games before injuring his shoulder and missing nearly three weeks.

Tuulola has been back for two games now and seems to be fitting in well on the second line alongside Devon Skoleski and Graham Millar.

“I think me, Devo and Mills play really good together,” Tuulola said. “We played a couple games in preseason together and now these two games I’ve played after (the injury). I think we play good. It’s fun being with Devo and Millsy.”

That line combined for four points in Thursday’s 4-2 win over the visiting Tri-City Americans at Xfinity Arena.

“We had some success there,” said Millar, who has six goals and four assists on the campaign. “It’s really nice having him back. He’s got the big shot and he’s a good goal-scorer. He’s a big attribute for our team.”

Whether that line stays together long term remains be seen. The Tips have been missing top-line center Matt Fonteyne for nearly two weeks due to a shoulder injury, meaning Connor Dewar has been on the top line with Patrick Bajkov and Dominic Zwerger. Dewar is looking for his first goal of the season, but does have seven assists. Forwards Brian King and Orrin Centazzo are also injured.

“We still have some guys out so who knows when they come back,” Millar said. “But yeah, it feels like we’re kind of in a rhythm and the lines are getting formed.”

King and Fonteyne have yet to return to full contact practice though both have been skating on their own this week. Centazzo has not joined them.

The first-place Silvertips (10-2-2-0) play host to Victoria Saturday in the second contest of a four-game homestand. The Royals entered Friday’s game at Tri-City with a record of 8-7 and in second place in the B.C. Division.

The Tips defeated the Royals 3-1 last Saturday at Victoria thanks in part to a 37-save effort from goalie Carter Hart and two goals from captain Noah Juulsen, who was playing in his 200th career game.

“They’re going to be energized,” Juulsen said of the Royals. “We beat them last game, but that’s just more fire for them. We just have to come into (Saturday) night and be ready.”

The Royals have balanced scoring up and down the lineup with six players tallying 10 or more points. Matthew Phillips had eight goals and seven assists, Jack Walker had eight goals and six assists, Dante Hannoun had six goals and eight assists, and Tyler Soy had five goals and nine assists. All totals were prior to Friday’s game.

In other news:

– It was photo day for Team Canada Red, the squad that Everett assistant coach Mitch Love is helping prepare for the U-17 World Hockey Challenge.

– Colleague Andy Eide was at the game Thursday and had this U.S. Division roundup over at Dub Network.

– We mentioned it yesterday, but Juulsen was named the captain for Team WHL at next week’s Canada-Russia Series in Prince George and Edmonton. Both he and Hart will represent the Tips at the event for the second straight year.

For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.

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