By Everett Silvertips staff
The strength of a franchise that enjoys peaks, avoids valleys, and continues the cycle of success is often demonstrated in their ability to build.
When they build, often times, the foundation is laid firmly with youth.
The Everett Silvertips, season after season, faced questions in the last decade of “is this the year of the rebuild?” and every season, they answered them in nearly flawless fashion with a U.S. Division title, or deep playoff run. Every season since 2013-14, they have enjoyed a winning record.
Those years included, of course, the likes of Carter Hart, Noah Juulsen, Patrick Bajkov, Matt Fonteyne, Riley Sutter, Jackson Berezowski, Ronan Seeley, Kevin Davis, and more. All of those accomplished, or budding with accomplishment-type players, have in common is they began their quest in a Silvertip jersey at the age of 16.
The Silvertips quest to continue the cycle of success in 2021-22, as defending U.S. Division champions, is likely to have the following from the 2004-born roster as a part of the plan (all have signed WHL standard player agreements):
- Beau Courtney (C): Signed to a WHL standard player agreement before last season, Courtney will aim to slide into a role in his debut with the Silvertips this next season, pegged to turn 18 next January. Courtney moved up to the Colorado Thunderbirds 16U program during the pandemic, earning eight points in 13 games. Signed last March, Courtney has continued to develop a two-way game along with a heavy shot and face-off circle aptitude.
- Max Graham (LW): At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds and just turning 17 after the conclusion of the season on May 21, he found a spot in the lineup 18 games and at times on a line with former Rockets teammate Austin Roest, continuing to develop with the gift of size and a game that produced plenty of offense with the Okanagan Rockets program. He earned his first career assist Apr. 18 vs. Portland.
- Ben Hemmerling (C): The first Silvertips draft pick in their 2019 draft class and a co-Rookie of the Year honors with Roest, significant growth enwrapped his 16-year old season where by season’s end found himself cracking through with playing time along with tested forwards such as Ethan Regnier and Jackson Berezowski. Showcasing advanced puck handling skills and elevated offensive aptitude, the first year forward earned seven points (3g-4a) and only missed one game all season. Though it wasn’t his first goal, his most memorably of the season came Apr. 6 in a resilient comeback win over Portland, when he hammered a one-timer from the top of the left circle in the final five minutes of the third period.
- Evan May (G): Waited for his turn and made his WHL debut in the Tips home finale of the shortened 2021 season, May 7 against the Spokane Chiefs to give Dustin Wolf a breather in the third period. He stopped the first shot he saw and the Tips cruised to a 5-1 victory. Heading into next season as a 17-year old (going on 18), his frame at 6-foot-2 and 163 pounds suggests more growth potential, and his experience is complimented with exposure to the daily routine of a U.S. Division title, along with comprehensive on-ice sessions with Tips goaltending coach James Jensen.
- Matthew Ng (RW): On a longer development curve slightly different than players such as Roest or Hemmerling this past season, his potential is almost no different: a forward continuing to produce with a reputation of high impact offense. While enjoying playing time with Culver Military Academy’s prep program to begin the season, Ng (affiliated player status) earned a call-up by the end of the season and scored in the Tips May 7 home finale against Spokane. He got a taste of WHL competition in five games, aiming to make a greater impact in 2021-22.
- Austin Roest (C): Look up the definition of the word, “snakebit” on Google (just don’t go to Google Images). The dictionary.com term here means “unlucky.” Also applicable: Roest’s first 11 games of the season. In the same age class as Hemmerling (and, the second Silvertip drafted after him), Roest was matching his draft classmate step for step. He was in on a lion’s share of high-danger scoring opportunities. You could maybe count the number of posts he hit in that 11-game span on two hands. Roest persevered, scored his first career goal Apr. 13 at Spokane (an exquisite snap shot off the rush), and was never taken out of the lineup. He totaled three goals and eight points in 23 games, earning the other half of the Tips co-Rookie of the Year honors.