Keith Gerhart, the play-by-play broadcaster for every single one of the 129 games in Everett Silvertips history, tends to see the net half-filled. Just before Everett's first season...

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Keith Gerhart, the play-by-play broadcaster for every single one of the 129 games in Everett Silvertips history, tends to see the net half-filled.


Just before Everett’s first season, Gerhart ignored dire predictions based on past expansion franchises. He was one of the few who thought the Silvertips had even a slim chance to make it to the Western Hockey League playoffs last season. The Silvertips not only made the playoffs but won the U.S. Division regular-season title. Then they made it all the way to the league championship series before losing to the Medicine Hat Tigers.


“After last year, I’m not surprised at anything this franchise does,” Gerhart said. “I don’t think there’s any reason the Silvertips can’t continue to play well in the second half of the season and challenge for the WHL title.”


Broadcasters’ fierce allegiance is expected. After all, Gerhart travels with the team, eats with the team on the road, attends nearly every practice — and is paid by the team.


“You travel with a group of guys and it becomes a pretty tight family,” Gerhart said. “I want to see our guys win. I have to cater to the hometown fans and keep things positive, but I also have to be honest. If the team’s not playing well, I’ll say that, and have at times.”


Gerhart, 30, was hired to broadcast Silvertips games after a career in minor-league baseball and hockey. He attended Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland, where he broadcast Baltimore Orioles and Washington Capitals games for the campus radio station.














Under the helmet


Zach Hamill


Position: center


Height:


5 feet 11


Weight:


163 pounds


Age: 16


Hometown: Port Coquitlam, B.C.


Personal: Hamill would like to become a sports-broadcasting analyst after his hockey career.


Quotable: “I still have a lot to learn in this league, both on the defensive side and the offensive end. I’ve been fortunate to be on a line with Tyler Dietrich almost all season, and I’ve learned a lot from him.”

While covering his first Orioles game, he was with a crush of reporters in the Baltimore clubhouse when he got some friendly advice he’s never forgotten.


“I felt this tap on my shoulder,” Gerhart remembered, “and it was Cal Ripken Jr. He told me not to be nervous and to go ahead and stick my microphone right in there with the rest of them.”


Except for a three-year break while loading trucks for United Parcel Service, Gerhart has been sticking his microphone in front of faces ever since.


His career includes calling games for the Daytona Beach Breakers of the defunct Southern Hockey League and minor-league-baseball games for the Dubois County Dragons and Johnstown Johnnies of the Frontier League and the Reading Phillies of the Eastern League.


He was describing games for the Johnstown Chiefs of the East Coast Hockey League when he found out about the opening in Everett on the Silvertips’ Web site. Gerhart dashed off a quick recording of his work to General Manager Doug Soetaert, was interviewed by phone and soon found himself driving west.


Gerhart was married in July. His wife, Karen, moved to Everett from Indiana and teaches English at Monroe High School.


“This is the best situation I’ve ever been in,” Gerhart said. “There isn’t much downside to this job other than being away from your family on the long road trips or coming back on the bus after losing a game.”


The games are broadcast on KRKO-AM (1380). Gerhart is joined on most of them by color analyst Dave Sheldon.


“Working with Dave has been great,” Gerhart said. “He really knows the league. I let Dave rant on the referees, and I can worry about calling the game. It’s been a good partnership.”


Gerhart, who lists broadcasting the Western Conference championship last season as the highlight of his career, shares a similar dream with the players.


“My dream is to do play-by-play for [hockey’s] Philadelphia Flyers,” Gerhart said, “but I’m really happy where I’m at.”


Silvertips add players


The Silvertips have added several players to fill in while others are away at all-star tournaments this week. Defenseman Ivan Baranka is playing for Slovakia at the World Junior tournament, and Zach Hamill, Brady Calla, Brennan Zasitko, Leland Irving and Jonathan Harty are at the World U-17 tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta.


Also out is center Mark Kress, who has a broken arm.


To take their places, the Silvertips have added goaltender Shayne Barrie, 15; left winger Nick Brower, 18; center Matt Sawa, 17; center Mitchell Wall, 15; and left winger Lenny Young, 16.






Everett Silvertips at Seattle Thunderbirds

7:05 tonight at KeyArena



Records: Everett is 18-10-6-2, second in the U.S. Division. Seattle is 23-9-0-1, first in U.S. Division.



Radio: KRKO (1380 AM); KKNW (1150 AM, tape-delayed broadcast at 9:40 p.m.)



Bottom line: This is the second of 10 meetings between the teams this season. The Silvertips won the first, 3-0 on Oct. 16 in Everett. Torrie Wheat tops the Silvertips in points with 28, while the T-Birds’ Aaron Gagnon has scored in six straight games and leads the team with 38 points.



Tickets: Available at the KeyArena box office, by calling 206-448-PUCK or through any Ticketmaster outlet (www.ticketmaster.com).



Jim Riley