EVERETT - This city's thirst for hockey has already made quite an impression on Peter Mueller and John Lammers.
Just wait until they play a game.
More than 100 season-ticket holders and several members of the media gathered Friday afternoon at the Everett Events Center Conference Room to welcome Mueller and Lammers, the newest additions to the Everett Silvertips hockey team.
"I'm very surprised. I've never seen anything like this," said Lammers, a 19-year-old left wing acquired July 11 in a trade with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
A four-year WHL veteran who has scored 55 goals the past three seasons, Lammers said the fan interest shocked him.
"They treat this like an NHL team," he said, "and that's awesome."
"It's pretty overwhelming - unbelievable," agreed Mueller, 17, who along with Lammers signed dozens of autographs following the introduction.
Everett inked the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Mueller on July 7. The center was the Tips' second round pick in the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft and is considered a top prospect for the 2006 NHL Draft.
Both players are expected to provide an offensive jolt for a team that often struggled to generate offense during its first two seasons. Just two of the 20 WHL teams scored fewer goals than Everett in 2003-04, compared to four last season. That trend is likely to change.
"We really think we've added greatly to the offense of our hockey team," Silvertips assistant coach John Becanic said.
Becanic and other team officials praised the efforts of former Silvertips Vice President and General Manager Doug Soetaert, who steered Everett to success in its first two seasons before taking a job with the NHL's Calgary Flames in May. As Everett progresses toward its goal of winning a Memorial Cup, Becanic said the addition of Mueller and Lammers is a big part of the puzzle.
"In year three, you folks will really come to love this hockey team," Becanic said. "I think we're going to be an exciting team to watch."
"The team is already good," said Mueller, a Minnesota native who won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2005 Under-18 World Championships. "I just hope me and Lammers bring some goals and some hard work, and hopefully we'll win some more games down the road."
Kevin Constantine, Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach, did not attend the press conference due to personal reasons. Both Mueller and Lammers said they look forward to becoming more well-rounded players under Constantine's guidance.
Following official introductions, which concluded when Lammers (No. 19)) and Mueller (No. 88) received their jerseys, Ron Olsen, President of the Everett Silvertips Booster Club, addressed the newest Silvertips. Welcome to "probably the best town in the Western Hockey League," Olsen said.
Mark Nysether, 49, of Arlington is a season ticket holder who attended the press conference with his wife and son.
"We're hoping that these two guys take us to the next level - to win the Memorial Cup," Nysether said.
Fans like Nysether can't wait to do their part.
"There's no arena that's as loud, as energetic," he said. "That first game that (Mueller and Lammers) have in a sold-out arena..."
Let the buildup begin.