by Dennis Dalman
Keegan Karki, a Sartell resident who has been playing hockey as long as he can remember, has just signed a three-year contract to play for the Silvertips in Everett, Washington.
The son of Carrie and Allan Karki, Keegan, now 19, a goalie, seemed destined to play hockey even before he started school.
“I’ve played since I was 4 or 5,” he said. “Later, I played in the Sartell Youth Hockey (organization) and then for one year at Cathedral High School.”
The Silvertips team is a major junior hockey team and a member of the U.S. Division of the Western Conference of the Western Hockey League. It is under the auspices of the Canadian Hockey League.
During his year at Cathedral, Karki committed to the University of North Dakota but then made the U.S. National Development Team Program and played for Team USA after high school graduation.
After that, he went to the Omaha Lancers, a member of the U.S. Hockey League and still later played for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, also a USHL member.
Needless to say, Karki had to adapt quickly to lots of travel time from place to place to play the sport he loves. He usually drove with just a few packed belongings. But in some cases he traveled by jet.
“I was always traveling but loving it,” he said. “Sometimes I’d stay with families in the cities I’d play in and sometimes at hotels.”
Driving was a pleasure because Karki, a car enthusiast, owns a black 2013 Dodge Charger RT with stage-2 modifications. He’s put a lot of love and work into that car, which he considers his home away from home.
Karki has three siblings – Chandler, 21; Avah, 14; and Talia, 6.
“They are super-proud of me,” he said. “They and my parents are always giving me full support and lots of caring.”
In his absorption with hockey, he has not taken his attention off of developing a career via academic studies. As part of being a Silvertips team member, he will take classes for general education college credits, given by professors right in the Everett hockey arena. Karki plans to study psychology, human relations and then earn a business degree to eventually run his own car business. One great benefit of playing for the Silvertips, he noted, is he will receive a full-year college scholarship to his school of choice for every year he is a Silvertip.
Besides cars – and hockey of course – Karki loves the great outdoors, wake-surfing, boating and music.
Karki will leave for training camp at the end of August. The season starts right after that. But he plans to go to Everett earlier this summer just to check out the area. Everett is just 20 minutes from Seattle.
The Silvertips will compete against about 20 teams, including ones from Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and some in Ontario, Canada.
“It gets pretty crazy,” Karki said of the position he plays – goalie. “I love being goalie because I’m by myself, kind of in my own world. And being goalie takes a lot of toughness and perseverance. It takes a lot of responsibility. It’s a tough job but I love it.”
The Silvertips team was founded in Everett in 2003 when it joined the Western Hockey League as an expansion team. Its home base is the Angel of the Winds arena.
In its first year, the Silvertips broke 10 junior hockey records and became known as one of the greatest expansion teams in the history of the sport. In its 19 seasons, it has developed a fierce competitive rivalry with the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Portland Winterhawks.
The team has been tops twice in the Western Conference and won the U.S. Division seven times. Many Silvertips players have gone on to be drafted into teams of the National Hockey League, including two for the Minnesota Wild – Czechoslovakian Ondrej Fiala in 2006 and Canadian Connor Dewar in 2018.
The team is comprised mainly of Canadian players, with several Americans, and its current team of 23 includes two players from Slovakia.
The team was named after the silvertip grizzly bear, native to the Pacific Northwest. Its mascot is “Lincoln,” the Silvertip Bear.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.