By Carmen Dittoe – Silvertips Staff Writer
EVERETT, Wash. – Having recognizable skill at the junior level is undeniably important. However, skills do not tend to go far without the smarts to uphold them.
Incoming third-year Silvertips defenseman Ian Walker has no shortage of intelligence. Known for his smarts on and off the ice, he plays with substantial intention and puts his best assets forward.
“He’s probably the smartest guy on our team,” said center Connor Dewar. “He is very calculated and a real scholar—Ian is really detailed in everything he does.”
Dewar isn’t the only one who thinks so. Silvertips veteran forward Matt Fonteyne believes “his intelligence is one of his best attributes”, and this reflects in Walker’s style of play.
“He instantly grooved a role for himself when he came in at 16 and has been steady ever since,” said Fonteyne. “I think he’s been one of the most steady guys I’ve played with. He’s not the most flashy defenseman, but you can always trust him to give 100% every shift and to do his job. And most of the time, if not every time, he’s doing his job right.”
Walker, a 6’02, 185-pound right-shooter, logged eight points in 67 games last season, including seven assists and his first WHL goal. His length leads him to rely on his stick as he works to build his frame, but in the mean time emphasizes strategic positioning rather than overpowering his opponent. While his teammates credit Walker’s contribution on the ice to his smarts, the Vancouver native believes that regardless of his quick wit, he would not have seen last season’s progress without the help of a mentor.
“Kevin [Davis] taught me how to be conduct myself as a pro on and off the ice,” said Walker. “He guided me in growing my leadership abilities and really influenced me as a person.”
Dewar expressed that his teammate’s growth was truly noticeable.
“He’s grown in confidence and into a really responsible person who is honestly just really fun to be around,” said Dewar.
A strong veteran compass is not the only beneficial aspect of last season that Walker credits in his success. Communication is key in productivity, something that Walker and defensive pair partner Gianni Fairbrother have in excess. The duo have been paired together on defense since their midget days.
“We are two halves of the same brain,” said Walker. “We know what the other person is going to do at all times, so playing with him in Everett has been really wonderful.” Walker said their relationship off the ice has only furthered their relationship and success in training and competition.
With next season and his future in Everett on the horizon, Walker hopes to become a go-to guy heading into greater opportunities. Dewar expects him to fill into a “shut-down role.”
“Next season, Ian’s gonna use his length to play against some tough match ups. We are really gonna need him to do that for us,” said Dewar.
Fonteyne agrees, explaining that “Moving forward, as [Walker] gets a bigger role with some of the older guys leaving, he’ll be stepping into more minutes with more opportunity to show a little more flash. Hopefully he will get noticed because he deserves the recognition.”
In an effort to improve his game, Walker is “hitting the gym hard this summer.” He hopes to get quicker and stronger, specifically aiming to strengthen his shot for offensive benefits.
The defenseman will be back in Everett this fall, sharp as ever and ready to keep carving his path.