NHL to SEATTLE

Braving the Elements for the Everett Silvertips

As #Snowmaggedon19 struck the Seattle metropolitan area this past Friday, the plan that NHLtoSeattle founder, John Barr, and I had been devising for quite a while was suddenly under duress. 

For way too long, we had been trying to find a night that worked for both of us to make it to Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, where we aimed to finally take in a Silvertips game together, and to do so in an “official” manner. “Official” meant obtaining credentials, sitting in the pressbox, glad-handing with the WHL’s brass and Silvertips employees (like Mike Benton… thanks for the hospitality, Mike!), and generally acting like big shots. That “official” designation is important to make, because although this would be the first time we had attended an Everett game in this capacity, John had previously been to countless Silvertips games over his many years in the area, and I too had been to a handful of games as a fan. 

But with the weather pushing Seattleites to clear grocery stores of every last morsel, close businesses early, and generally hunker down, skepticism of our own ability to complete the quest began to set in between John and myself. “Not sure if we should risk it,” Barr said to me in a mid-afternoon text on Friday. “Seems like it’s going to be pretty bad out there. I am fearful, for snow is inconvenient and frightening.” Barr’s concerns were valid, being that forecasters had been projecting an end-of-days scenario, in which the entire region would painfully suffocate beneath a heavy blanket of frigid precipitation. **EDITOR’S NOTE: Those texts didn’t actually happen, and although we got several inches of snow, the storm MAY have been slightly overhyped.**

Despite the doomsday predictions, we just couldn’t let our Everett-loving readers and podcast listeners down. We’d been planning this outing for way too long to let a little snowfall prevent it from happening, and I badly wanted to continue my journey through the Pacific Northwest’s fledgling hockey culture. So northward we trekked, Barr via a slightly slushy Interstate 5, and I via Sound Transit’s “Sounder Train.” By the way, yes, you can take this train to games in Everett during the week from King Street Station in Seattle, and yes it’s great for that… But no, you cannot take it back home after the game, because it stupidly stops running in the late evening. Oh, and it doesn’t run on the weekends… which is also stupid.

We made it to Angel of the Winds Arena to see the Tips take on the Medicine Hat Tigers, and the game did not disappoint. Not all heroes wear capes. **EDITOR’S NOTE: For the record, it really is pretty easy to get to Everett from Seattle the vast majority of the time.** 

Here’s why you too should make it out to a game in Everett soon.

Outstanding Hockey

The cowbell-ringing Silvertips fans have been treated to some outstanding hockey this season, where their beloved team has racked up 78 standings points through 53 games, good enough for a seven-point lead over the Portland Winterhawks for first place in the WHL’s U.S. Division, and also first place in the Western Conference. With a record of 38-13-1-1, Everett has already locked up a playoff position with 19 games left to play, as of the writing of this story, and is the second-best team in the entire WHL behind only the Prince Albert Raiders of the Eastern Conference, who have been nearly perfect. 

The Silvertips are led by a trio of players that were selected in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in left wing/center Connor Dewar (Minnesota Wild, 3rd round), right wing Riley Sutter (Washington Capitals, 3rd round), and defenseman Wyatte Wiley (Philadelphia Flyers, 5th round). They also have an outstanding draft-eligible netminder in Dustin Wolf, who has put up an exceptional 1.82 goals against average and .930 save percentage in 46 games this season. There are certainly youngsters on this team that will soon don an NHL sweater, just as last season’s starting goaltender, Carter Hart, currently is doing with the Flyers. 

On Friday, when John and I were in attendance, it was Medicine Hat goalie Mads Sogaard—currently the third-ranked goalie in North America by NHL Central Scouting—who stole the show and the game by turning in a 41-save shutout to secure a 1-0 victory for the Tigers. It definitely was not the outcome the Silvertips wanted on that particular night, but it’s rare that a visiting team gets the better of them, and Friday’s contest actually showed why. Everett dominated just about every aspect of the game—as it does most games—except on the scoreboard. 

I asked Dewar, who has an eye-popping 72 points in 49 games played, what has contributed to the team’s success. “We have a good group of guys returning this year that went all the way last year and came up a little bit short, and even in the offseason through trades we added guys that were on Swift Current and played on Regina too that was in the Memorial Cup,” Dewar said. “So, just a lot of veteran presence in the room, guys knowing what it takes to win, and just the culture around here bringing the young guys along.”

A Great Hockey Atmosphere at an Affordable Price Point

An arena that holds a little over 8,000 for hockey is a fantastic place to view a game. There isn’t a bad seat, and even when you’re in the last row in the upper level, you still have fantastic sightlines. The fans can get pretty raucous too, especially when a nearby rival like Seattle or Portland comes to town, as the chants get a bit more boisterous, the cowbell ringing gets a bit more voluminous, and the vitriol between players on the ice becomes a bit more palpable. 

Friday’s game was a bit different, being that the weather kept the usual hordes of Tips fans at home, but those that showed up (and were classily thanked by the team’s public address announcer) seemed to be working extra hard to make up for those that opted not to risk going out in the snowy conditions. 

Even with the great arena, great atmosphere, and outstanding team, the prices for Silvertips games remain very reasonable, with the vast majority of seats coming in at $20 or less. 

Get Out and See ’Em

This is truly a great team this season, with some outstanding young individual players that have bright NHL futures ahead of them, so Everett has its sights set on an extended postseason run.

There are just six regular season home games remaining before the playoffs begin, so get out and support the boys! John and I went… and we went on a night when it was snowing really hard. What’s your excuse?