By Silvertips staff
EVERETT, Wash. – A handful of players prepare to enter the “third season” class – save a few names getting ready for season two.
It delivers growth, experience, privileges accomplishment, and even a taste of leadership.
With the start of the season less about nearly two months away, the Silvertips transition from the U.S. division title perch of 2021 to the next big goal-oriented adventure will focus, as a sum of the parts, on the evolution of this class. They feature a collection of draft accomplished, hopeful, and ambitious. Every figure either played a part in the Tips winning the division crown last season, or stay in the hunt until the pandemic halted the season 17 months ago.
The 2002-born Silvertips, ready for a return:
- Dylan Anderson (D): His second full season as a Silvertips blueliner brought increased playing time – playing in 55 games the year prior, he didn’t miss a game this past season, paired frequently with fellow ’02-born blueliner Ronan Seeley. Anderson has now bulked to 188 pounds, also rising two more inches since his first full eligible year in 2018-19. By playing a ferocious, direct, and more assertive brand at his position, his six points in 23 games was also spelled by a +12 rating, a career-high.
- Jackson Berezowski (RW): The guy popular in the dressing room with the nickname, “Bear” established his prints on a franchise that points to his influence, anywhere you turn. His freshman season two years ago, he was difficult to take out of the lineup (65 games). Next year, he had an 18 goal campaign. Then last season as an assistant captain, he was nearly a point per game player – 21 points in 23 games – calculating to a full-season of 21 goals and 64 points. He’s not afraid to play at the net, his wisdom has earned leadership responsibilities, and he will return as one of the most experienced Silvertips in 2021-22.
- Michal Gut (C): If there is any player ready to skate this season like he’s shot out of a cannon, it’s Gut. Two seasons ago, he was living a very large hockey life, answering his first challenge of playing away from his home province of the Czech Republic with a 13-goal, 36-point campaign in 51 games – good enough for more than just a pat on the back. He was crowned Silvertips Rookie of the Year and even showed up on NHL Central Scouting’s radar for the draft. Then the pandemic hit, and Gut was one of many players who couldn’t cross the border. Forced to refine his game in an alternative spot last season – HC Banik Sokolov – he was more than serviceable playing as 18-year old in a Czech pro league. His 21 points in 20 games – not too shabby. He also tied for fourth in goals (10), and made Team Czech’s World Juniors roster. Officially reinstated this season, comes back older, sharpened, and hungry.
- Ryan Hofer (C): Rangy, physical, and energetic at 6-foot-3, 181 pounds, Hofer did more than carve a spot in the lineup. He thrived in it. Making a mark as a first year WHL player is no easy task. He answered the call by only missing two games. An undrafted WHL forward whose brother and former Bronco and Winterhawk goaltender, Joel, texted him the night he scored his first career WHL, younger brother Ryan delivered six goals and nine assists in 22 games – projected over a full season, he’d leave his first WHL year as a 16-goal scorer. He’ll return for his second WHL season.
- Brendan Lee (LW): Competing for playing time over the last two seasons amidst a proven and decorated lineup, the goal in season three of Lee is taking the next big step. As his youth hockey story is well documented, attending Silvertips games as a youngster while living in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, capitalizing on his chances mean a greater opportunity for the next great Puget Sound hockey story. Last season, Lee turned in a six-point, 17 game season, looking to bolster his offensive presence with a heavy shot and puck skills that’s shown flashes of fooling goaltenders.
- Ronan Seeley (D): A first round pick in 2017, Seeley has continued to take the next steps on schedule, finding comfort in the chaotic pace of a WHL defenseman. The NHL took notice last year – Seeley was the third and final Silvertip off the draft board to the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2020 NHL Draft, picked in the seventh round. Several months later like his teammates, Seeley was back in the WHL saddle, and rode top speed to the division title. His 17 points in 23 games tied the lead among all Tips blueliners – on pace for a robust 15-goal, 49-point campaign over a full season, and he led everybody with a +18 rating. Rangy, fluid, and smooth are his hallmarks, and he enters the next campaign still with a goal to earn a Hurricanes contract on the radar for Canada’s World Junior squad. Seeley just finished camp with fellow d-man Olen Zellweger and Tips head coach Dennis Williams, who will be with Canada as assistant coach.
- Aidan Sutter (D): Another developing popular dressing room presence, Sutter took on a workload of 21 games this past season which included six points, but also with a +9 rating. Often times, his impact is felt in the defensive zone or neutral zone, where tangible advanced metrics haven’t made their way to whl.ca. His relentless embrace of physical play and ability for a secure and crisp pass up ice to generate a scoring chance made him formidable in his own zone. He’ll return for his third full WHL season, now with an instruction manual that’s included experience with alumni such as Wyatte Wylie, Jake Christiansen, and Gianni Fairbrother.
- Jacob Wright (C): Following in the footsteps of Gage Goncalves as a fellow undrafted player, there is opportunity for Wright after his second full WHL season delivered nine goals and 15 points in 23 games – he didn’t miss any. Over a full season, Wright would have gone from nine points in 49 games as a rookie to an explosive 27-goal, 49-point sophomore campaign. If you have to ask, “what’s in the water with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds?” (Both Goncalves, a Tampa Bay prospect, and Wright were graduates of that program before becoming Silvertips), you’re on track. He scored the first goal of the Silvertips season, and he scored one as well in the final game, finding open ice to unleash an improved, heavy shot as part of his arsenal.
The Silvertips will open the season Oct. 2 at Kelowna, the home schedule Oct. 8 vs. Portland, and will announce their training camp schedule soon.