Betker shines in hometown debut

Local defenceman a key part to Everett's defence as the team chases the top spot in the WHL.

Cranbrook native Ben Betker guards his defensive zone during his hometown debut with the Everett Silvertips against the Kootenay Ice.

Cranbrook native Ben Betker guards his defensive zone during his hometown debut with the Everett Silvertips against the Kootenay Ice.

Ben Betker shined in his hometown debut, posting two assists as the Everett Silvertips edged out a 3-2 victory against the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook on Tuesday night.

Betker, a Cranbrook native, has suited up for the Silvertips over the last two years and played well enough to be noticed by NHL scouts, as the Edmonton Oilers picked him up in the draft last June in the sixth round.

He attended training camp with the Edmonton Oilers, while his WHL squad tore up the preseason with seven straight wins.

Everett has continued their success into the regular season in a tough U.S. Division, and are tied with the Portland Winterhawks at 36 points to lead  the WHL.

“I think the way our coach has us playing, we’re chasing perfection,” said Betker. “The coach wants to be very consistent, and that’s what it takes to be a pro. That’s why they’re good for so long, is because they can play at the highest level possible consistently.

“So that’s something that we’re trying to work on and it’s paying off.”

Despite their high-flying start to the season, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Cougars in Prince George on Saturday in a disappointing game, according to Betker.

The team wanted to change that coming into Cranbrook.

“We were pretty disappointed with our effort Saturday night against Prince George, so we knew we had to have a big rebound game,” said Betker. “Our coach challenged us and I think we answered the bell pretty good.”

Everett is in one of the toughest divisions in a while, as all four other teams are capable of winning on any given night. All five teams are in the playoff hunt.

“Portland—that’s turning into quite the rivalry with us,” said Betker. “We had a huge rivalry with Seattle, but at the same time, when we come to these outer division games, it’s crucial for us to get the points.”

Betker and the rest of the Silvertips are on a road trip through the Central Division, where they will play Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Calgary.