The last time Kevin Constantine put a team on the ice against the Tri-City Americans, Carey Price was in net and Don Nachbaur was behind the bench.
A lot has changed in the six years since Constantine left the Everett Silvertips at the end of the 2006-07 season until his return this season.
I think that one thing and its been 10 years since the first time until now if I have seen anything, the athletes keep getting better and bigger, said Constantine, who coached the Silvertips their first four years in the WHL. The athletes are better now and the coaching seems to upgrade and get better. Good coaches dont mind coming here (WHL).
The Americans (2-3-0-1, 5 points) will visit the Silvertips (2-1-0-0, 4 points) tonight before taking a ferry ride to Victoria for a Sunday matinee.
Kevin has a great track record and has had great success, said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, who last matched wits with Constantine when he coached the Chilliwack Bruins. He keeps you thinking, thats what I remember from my Chilliwack days. They were a tough team to generate chances against, and I dont see much changing.
Tri-City is coming off Tuesdays 3-0 victory over Seattle, in which Eric Comrie posted a shutout and Brian Williams scored his second hat trick of the season.
Its a long season, but you need some stability at a point and Eric provides that defensively and Brian offensively, Hiller said. They have had some big moments in games and they are leading on both sides of the puck.
Everett is coming off a 6-3 loss to Kelowna on Wednesday its first loss of the young season.
This early in the season, you dont know if the rhythm is good or bad, Constantine said. We had a decent start to the preseason, but we got thumped pretty good (Wednesday by Kelowna). You just have to keep working. There is no weak spot in the U.S. Division. Seattle is good, Portland is Portland, Tri-City has won some games and Spokane is off to a hot start. There is no easy night here. The competitive balance is good.
Though he was out of the WHL for six years coaching in the AHL and in Europe, Constantine has kept his ties with Everett over the years.
I spent all my summers here the last six years, so I feel I never left, Constantine said. I felt connected a bit. Ive lived all over, but the summers here in the Pacific Northwest are No. 1 on my list.
And the decision to return to the WHL?
I think when your passion and goal is to stay in the industry and coach, you need to be open to coach at any level, Constantine said. I have been in junior, AHL, NHL, Europe the reason I am still coaching is I go where there is an opportunity. The junior level is enjoyable because you have players who really have a passion for the game and they have fun. They keep you young.
Notes: The Americans penalty kill has been solid the last four games, allowing just one goal on 19 chances (94.7 percent). They are ranked fifth in the WHL (84.4 percent). ... Portlands Brendan Leipsic, who hit Tri-Citys Taylor Vickerman on Sept. 24, has one more game to serve of his three-game league suspension. He will be able to return Saturday against Kamloops. Vickerman, who suffered an upper body injury, is out indefinitely.