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New faces emerge as Silver Knights seek another playoff trip

Stick taps echoed throughout Lifeguard Arena as coach Manny Viveiros ended Thursday’s Silver Knights practice.

The long buildup to the season — which for many players involved rookie camp, NHL camp and finally American Hockey League camp — is over. The Silver Knights open their third season at 7 p.m. Friday at The Dollar Loan Center against the Tucson Roadrunners.

They’re ready to get going.

The team is seeking its third straight playoff appearance after finishing sixth in the Pacific Division a year ago. A fresh wave of talent from the Golden Knights’ prospect pool and beyond should help the Silver Knights do that.

They also get a key addition on the bench. Viveiros missed large chunks of last season while receiving treatment for prostate cancer. He missed rookie camp and NHL camp to finish up his recovery, but he’s been told he’s cancer-free.

“For me, the biggest thing is I’m going in and I’m thinking hockey,” said Viveiros, who will still have monthly checkups. “Quite honestly, even when I came back last year it was a great distraction, but you’re always thinking about your health. Right now it’s good to get back, get frustrated and happy at the same time about the game.”

Viveiros, once he returned for Silver Knights camp, began ushering in a large group of new faces that should be key contributors to this year’s team.

Five of the top seven scorers from a year ago aren’t opening the season with the club. Leading scorer Pavel Dorofeyev, who had 27 goals and 25 assists in 63 games, is back to shoulder some of the offensive load. Right wing Jonas Rondbjerg will help as well after playing 30 NHL games last season.

The Silver Knights will also count on newcomers like left wing Brendan Brisson, the Golden Knights’ 2020 first-round pick, to fill the scoring void.

Brisson, 20, is entering his first full professional season after two years at the University of Michigan. He wants to work on getting stronger, and emulate the attention to detail he saw in his two NHL preseason games.

“That’s probably what I noticed the most,” said Brisson, who had three goals and five assists in eight games with the Silver Knights at the end of last season. “Everyone’s in the right places. You don’t really even need to look. You know someone’s going to be there.”

The Silver Knights should also get plenty of offense from a blue line that will go nine deep once defenseman Daniil Miromanov is ready to play after undergoing an undisclosed offseason surgery. Miromanov, who was second among rookie defensemen in points with 40, is practicing and cleared for contact, but Viveiros didn’t have a timeline for when he’d get into a game.

The Silver Knights’ defense corps should have plenty of pop even without him. Lukas Cormier, a 2020 third-round pick, is turning pro this season after winning back-to-back Quebec Major Junior Hockey League defenseman of the year awards.

He joins a group that already has five players with NHL experience in Miromanov, Jake Bischoff, Zack Hayes, Kaedan Korczak and Brayden Pachal and two AHL veterans in Layton Ahac and Peter DiLiberatore. Daniil Chayka, a 2021 second-round pick, is also coming in as a first-year pro to give the Silver Knights a surplus of talent on the back end.

“Everyone can play,” Cormier said. “It’s fun to have a lot of guys like that to compete with.”

The Silver Knights have that mix of veterans and exciting young talent across their roster. That internal competition should serve them well over their first full season at The Dollar Loan Center. Players will be fighting for roster spots and to be the next Paul Cotter and Jake Leschyshyn, who broke camp with the big club after playing in Henderson last season.

“I think it’s going to be a fun year for the fans to watch,” goaltender Jiri Patera said.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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