It may be early in the season but the North Island Silvertips have a noble cast of forwards who are scoring in bunches.
The Silvertips boasted six forwards with at least eight points on the regular season through eight games played this year.
The B.C. Major Midget League's Silvertips' (4-4-0) six most productive forwards have accumulated a respectable 20 goals and 49 points thus far through the campaign.
While the seemingly scoringat-will Grady McInnes might not continue to light the lamp at such a furious pace - the right winger has found net seven times already this season - the 16-yearold is optimistic that the team will continue to find ways to get it done.
"It's pretty good right now for sure," he said. "We just kind of get pucks deep, run bodies, make some space out there and usually find someone to put it in the back of the net."
As of Friday afternoon, McInnes was in a dead heat with four other players for third place in the BCMML scoring race. Forward Nick Guiney of the South Island Royals and Andrew Strelezki of the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds held on to first place with 10 goals each.
What also bodes well for McInnes was the recently discovered chemistry between him and linemates Joe Surgeonor, 16, from Courtenay, and 16-year-old Tyler Madden, a six-foot-one, 195-lb power forward out of Powell River.
Since head coach Jason Dubyna united them on a rather fluid roster weeks ago, the three have found ways to create space and scoring chances in the offensive zone.
"If we keep working together as a team, we can make it pretty far," said Madden, who has two goals and seven assists for the team lead in points so far this season.
McInnes scored in back-to-back games last weekend when the Silvertips hosted the Kootenay Ice for a pair of matches at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
He scored his seventh of the season in a 4-3 loss to the Ice on Oct. 13, when defenceman and team tough guy Coleman Doney fed the puck to Madden. A pass to McInnes put the Silvertips ahead by one with three minutes left in the second period.
McInnes scored the game-tying goal one night before during a 4-2 win over the Ice, on a feed from Surgeonor and Madden.
"Ty's (Madden) a big guy; it's easy for him to take the puck off people and send it up to me to set up Grady (McInnes)," said Surgeonor. "(Madden's) the one that gives me space, because he's hitting everybody. He puts it in the back of the net."
While McInnes has been a near goal-per-game scoring pace early into the season, the team has seen offence coming from a number of forwards.
Powell River's Hunter Findlater had four goals and four assists for the Silvertips. Lewis Bo, also from Powell River, has clicked for three goals and five assists through the team's eight games.
Nanaimo's Carter Turnbull has matched their pace with three goals of his own, and added another five assists.
Together, the top-six forwards have scored 20 of the team's total 20 goals.
"I don't think we really have a certain game plan we stick to - it's just that we work well together," Surgeonor said of his new linemates. "Improvising out there lets us do well. Jason (Dubyna) put us together a couple weeks ago, me and Ty and then Grady; it just worked well.
"The first game together we put up points, we knew from the beginning it was going to be a good (line)," he said.
One area the team knows it will have to work on in order to be successful is consistency.
The team faces off twice against an opponent each weekend and has split every matchup, resulting in the Silvertips' current 4-4 record.
Those four wins were enough to seed the Silvertips at fifth place among the league's 11 clubs, two points shy of the 5-1 Kelowna Rockets, who have two games in hand.
The head coach has high hopes for his offence this year.
"He is naturally a goal-scorer, has a really quick release with good accuracy," Dubyna said of McInnes. "With him coming back as a second-year, I'm hoping he can get us 25-30 goals.
"With Surgeonor being left handed, his natural pass is to the right wing," he added. "That's the kind of setup you always want."
Dubyna described himself as a defence-first coach, one who preaches that a player who works hard to gain possession of the puck has earned the chance to be creative and make something happen offensively.
The Silvertips play back-to-back games against the Thompson Blazers (0-5-1) this weekend at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
The puck drops on Saturday's game at 5:15 p.m. while Sunday's match starts at 12:30 p.m.
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