EVERETT – Since the inception of the Everett Silvertips Hockey Club a decade ago, the team has always enjoyed close community ties to the men and women of Naval Station Everett. The team’s mascot is named Lincoln and wears jersey #72 in recognition of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) aircraft carrier, goaltender Daniel Cotton’s mask design is a nod toward the city’s current carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68), the Navy regularly holds enlistment ceremonies on the ice during Silvertips “Navy Night” games and was gracious enough to welcome the entire team for a tour of the Nimitz last office August.
This past season, a new tradition began to further celebrate the bond between the team, the local Naval installation and the Everett community. In the locker room stall of whichever Silvertips player contributed most to the team’s latest victory this season, you would have found a U.S. Navy working uniform hat in blue digital camouflage with a Petty Officer First Class insignia on the front. This is the new badge of honor in the Silvertips locker room for helping lead the team to victory.
Many teams pass some kind of object around the locker room throughout the season to represent the player of the game or hardest-working player in a win. It can be a hard hat, a sledgehammer, or any kind of symbolic item imaginable. Silvertips equipment manager James Stucky spawned the idea for a new post-game ritual and recruited his friend, Petty Officer First Class Sean Joyce of the USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG-60), to help make it happen.
“I just wanted to find something that tied us to the community,” Stucky said of his idea. “The Navy is such a huge part of the Everett area that it seemed to be a perfect fit, so Sean tracked down the hat for me and I talked to our coaches about presenting it after every win.”
The hat was first presented by Stucky to goaltender Austin Lotz following his 44-save effort in a 5-1 Silvertips win over the archrival Seattle Thunderbirds at Comcast Arena on January 18. Since then it has changed hands many times in the celebratory post-game team meeting, with the winner keeping possession of the hat until he selects the most deserving teammate to receive it following the next victory.
“It’s a real honor among the players to win it,” says rookie forward Tyler Sandhu, who was awarded the Navy hat after scoring three goals for his first career hat trick (giving a whole new meaning to the phrase) in a 7-5 win over the Tri-City Americans on St. Patrick’s Day. “I think it helps us all remember how much they battle for us and how much we have to battle in our own way for each other and for the community. Putting on that hat is always a pretty special feeling, and it definitely makes you feel proud.”
While the presentation of the hat serves to help the players bond behind closed doors and celebrate their shared successes on the ice, it also represents an important relationship with the men and women of the United States Navy who work just a mile away from Comcast Arena.
“I think the hat just signifies the hard work that the U.S. Navy puts in for this country and how that can be an example of the hard work we expect our kids to put in as Everett Silvertips,” said Assistant Coach Mitch Love. “The Navy is an important part of this community and this nation, so it’s only fitting that we use one of their hats to symbolize our hardest working player of the game.”
(Written by Travis Huntington)
The Silvertips are currently preparing for our 11th year in the WHL in 2013-14. Visit our website throughout the offseason for updates on our head coaching search, the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, NHL Entry Draft and much more! To keep up with all the latest team news and information, “like” the Everett Silvertips Hockey Club on Facebook or follow @WHLSilvertips on Twitter.