Series Preview - Season Starts In Silvertip Country
The Eugene Generals will open the 2017-18 season on the road this weekend as the team will head north to play a Saturday-Sunday series against the Everett Jr. Silvertips at XFINITY Arena in Everett, Washington.
This weekend's matchup will mark the first-ever meeting between the Generals and Jr. Silvertips franchises as the Gens begin a season that will feature Tier III junior hockey's most unique and diverse schedule.
The Jr. 'Tips (NAPHL) are one of three Tier I 18U opponents that the Generals will be facing off against this season along with the Wenatchee Wolves (NAPHL) and the Coeur D'Alene Hockey Academy (CSSHL).
This will be the first season that the Jr. Silvertips program will field an 18U team in the NAPHL and they'll be led by Head Coach Turner Stevenson, a 13-year NHL veteran and former Stanley Cup Champion with the New Jersey Devils (2013). Stevenson also serves as the bench boss of the 16U team, a position that he took over before the 2016-17 season.
After the Jr. 'Tips earned just two points during the 2015-16 regular season, Stevenson's 16U squad posted a 17-4-1-0 regular season record last year, an impressive turnaround that resulted in him being named the NAPHL Coach of the Year.
Five players from last year's 16U 'Tips team have made the jump to the 18U squad led by Jakob Stevenson (2016-17: 8G, 16A, 24PTS) and Jake McNeil (2016-17: 7G, 13A, 20PTS).
Meanwhile, the Generals will feature three players from last season's 16U Eugene Jr. Generals team as Broc Friesen, Calvin Hennon and Griffin Minchin have all made the jump to juniors after helping lead the Jr. Gens to the 2017 Oregon State High School Championship.
The Generals also boast six returners from last year's team and they'll be led by a pair of talented netminders in Christopher Alexakis and Jamie Frantz. Team captain and local product Jack Thornton will look to provide veteran leadership as he enters his third season with the Generals while Frazier Mohler is the team's top returning point scorer after netting 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 overall points during the 2016-17 campaign. On the blue line, a strong defensive core will likely be backbone of the Generals this season as Dakota Henn, Jackson Baughman and four-year veteran Nash Berkowitz anchor a skilled group of defenseman.
Justin Kern enters his third full season as the bench boss in Eugene after taking over the head coaching duties midway through the 2014-15 season. He'll hope to continue the trend that has seen his Generals increase their win totals in every season that he's been at the helm (2014-15: 13 wins / 2015-16: 21 wins / 2016-17: 34 wins).
The 34 wins and 71 overall points accumulated by the Generals last season were the most since 2009-10 as the Generals would go on to win the USP3 Pacific Division Championship in the franchise's first season as members of the United States Premier Hockey League.
Game One - Saturday, September 16, 2017 - 1:15pm PST
Game Two - Sunday, September 17, 2017 - 8:45am PST
XFINITY Arena - Everett, Washington
Friends Turned Foes - Generals forward Alex Clark will be facing off against a familiar face this weekend in the form of Jr. Silvertips defenseman Austin Stephens. The two were formerly teammates for two seasons at Wasilla High School in Wasilla, Alaska.
Starting Strong - The Generals are 8-4-0 in season opening games in franchise history. Eugene has also won each of its past three season opening games.
Silvertips Stay Close To Home - 13 of the 18 players on the Jr. Silvertips 18U roster hail from the state of Washington. By contrast, the Generals boast a trio of Washington-born players in Jamie Frantz (Seattle, WA), Nathan Leach (Puyallup, WA) and Bradley Maddox (Spokane, WA).