Skate, Smash, Repeat: The Silvertips Experience

I went with the Live in Everett guys to check out a Wednesday night Silvertips game. $12 tickets. Here’s a recap of the night and what you can expect if you go.

We walk into the darkened stadium as a maple-leafed flag waves on the jumbotron. A guy on the ice is singing “O Canada.” The American national anthem is next.

Then the puck drops and the slamming begins.

Players slap the puck at 110 MPH up and down the brilliant white ice. Players and pucks ricochet off the walls so that the whole rink seems like a manic pin ball machine on tilt.

Seems like every thirty seconds some fella is getting crushed against rattling plexiglas. Surprisingly, I find the slamming to be cathartic. Sportsmanlike pummeling satisfies.

We’re sitting by the rink and I see the faces of the players. These guys are in their late teens, early twenties, almost exclusively Canadians. It’s fun to see kids zipping around the ice with a determined intensity not often seen in big-salaried major league players.

Five and a half minutes into the game, ‘Tips winger Patrick Bajkov rips the puck into the opponent’s net. A bullhorn sounds, strobe lights flash and the Silvertips players skate single-file past their goalie, fist bumping.

We visit a pizza vendor and select a broad, floppy slice to split. The ‘za sits cradled on a bed of red and white checked wax paper, oozing greasy cheese. This is sports food.

Other vendors are selling poutine (Canadian gravy fries), local craft beer, and something called “madness soda” (I never found out what it was).

 Poutine: classic hockey food.

Poutine: classic hockey food.

Brewskies are a steal: $5 for domestics, $6 for premium drafts, 16 oz servings.

The crowd shakes cowbells, tipsy fans gyrate in their seats when cued by loudspeaker music. I am admiring a concrete pillar wrapped in a floor-to-ceiling Budweiser decal when the Tips slam home another goal, now leading Vancouver 3-1.  

Between the 2nd and 3rd period, a gate on the side of the rink swings open and a 2017 Dodge Charger rolls into the arena, care of local sponsor Dwayne Lanes. The Charger is heralded as being “as fast as a Silvertip on ice.”

Fans are encouraged by the announcer to “chuck the puck.” Suddenly hundreds of red plastic pucks hail down on the ice from all directions, bouncing haphazardly. One lucky puck chucker will go home with a cash prize.

The action escalates during the third and final period. Vancouver pulls their goalie, putting an extra offensive player on the ice, trying to rally some points.

No dice.

With the Giant’s goal wide open the ‘Tips rip a smooth shot into the empty net and bring down the house. Fist bumps and cowbells all around. The loudspeakers play what I’m guessing is the sound of a bear growling.

The hometown boys shut down the game with a 4-1 victory over Vancouver. 

We walk out of the arena into a chilly night in Downtown Everett. I’m feeling that much closer, geographically and culturally, to Canada. I think I understand now why this oddball sport has a place in our city: Everett’s always been a little different.

The ‘Tips were a thrill to watch as they zipped and slammed and skidded. Our home team has a real tenacity symbolic of the city itself.

Everett. We’re small but scrappy and might just slam you into a wall, bro.

 

Richard Porter is a social worker and musician. He lives in North Everett and enjoys running on Marine View Drive, bicycling down tree-lined streets, and trying to coax vegetables out of his yard.