The Everett Silvertips wrapped up their annual Eastern road trip on Saturday with a win over the team that kept them out of the Memorial Cup last season. It was a great ending to a solid trip that saw the Tips take 4 of 6 games over an 8-day span. Now, after all that traveling, they are finally back in the correct time zone, and we can finally go catch a game live again!
Everett got off to a rocky start with a 5-2 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Dustin Wolf allowed 4 goals (the 5th was an empty netter) for the first time all season. It was only the second time in 15 starts that he has allowed more than 2 goals. The power play worked okay, going 2-6, but the Tips were dealt a real blow when Connor Dewar took a 5 minute major cross-checking penalty late in the third that was followed up with a 4 game suspension from the WHL. It honestly couldn’t have been much worse of a start to a very long trip. But then, they turned it all around, winning 4 of the next 5 games to finish out the trip. Here are your leading scorers for this stretch:
The strangest statistic for this road trip: Everett went 1-1 with Dewar in the lineup, and 3-1 without him. Don’t let that fool you though, Dewar is still an integral part of this team going forward. Despite playing in just 2 of the 6 games, Dewar finished tied for 2nd on the team in points and tied for first in goals scored for the trip. It’s good to see the secondary scoring continue, especially from guys like Bryce Kindopp and Reece Vitelli. Everett lost their top 3 scorers during the offseason, so if they want to compete this year, they’ll need Vitelli and Kindopp (who both got 3rd line minutes last season) so produce like top-6 forwards.
They took care of business against a pretty bad Regina Pats team, who currently sit in second-to-last place in the entire WHL. Then they went to Prince Albert to try to hand the Raiders their second loss of the season. It didn’t really work out, but they were able to limit the top scoring team offensively, holding the Raiders to just 2 goals and an empty netter at the end. They were unable, like seemingly every team this year, to solve this season’s breakout goaltender of the year candidate Ian Scott. Scott currently ranks 1st in Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) and 2nd in GAA and SV% behind Vancouver’s Trent Miner, though Scott has also played more than twice as many games as Miner.
In his first 3 seasons in the league, he never posted a SV% above .900 or a GAA below 3. Yet somehow this season he seems to have figured it all out. Not only is he arguably the best goaltender in the league right now, Prince Albert also boasts the top scoring offense. All this leads to a staggering +48 goal differential through 16 games. The next best team is the Tri-City Americans at +13. Everett is at +11. All this is to say, Everett lost the game, but it was to an early front-runner for the Eastern Conference champs.
After that Everett went to Saskatoon to visit their old assistant coach/legendary defenseman Mitch Love to check in on his first season as a head coach. He was a wonderful host, letting the Tips shut out his Blades 3-0. The Blades still sit in second in the Eastern Division behind the powerhouse Raiders, so Mitch seems to be doing just fine. Gianni Fairbrother also did his best impression of Love halfway through the game:
thought you might enjoy this pic.twitter.com/Ln4Lb8nEyf— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) October 25, 2018
Next came a nail-biter in Moose Jaw, where the Tips again came out on top. Wyatte Wylie got his second goal of the year after a nice saucy feed from Kindopp in overtime.
This was followed with a return to Swift Current, where the Tips saw their championship dreams come to an end last season. They came out looking for redemption and got it. To be fair, beating Swift Current this year is not as impressive as it was last year. They are a perfect showcase for what can happen to a junior team after a deep playoff run. Lose a bunch of your stars, fall off a cliff the following year. Right now they are 1-14-0-0 with a -42 goal differential. They’re basically as bad as Prince Albert is good. The death of the reigning champions makes it all the more impressive that Everett has managed to come back on top of the US Division after losing so much scoring as well as the league’s best goaltender last season.
Here’s a quick look at the numbers behind the road trip:
- Everett went 4-2 on the Eastern swing this season after going just 2-4 last year
- The Tips scored 16 goals and allowed 11 over the 6 game stretch
- The power play was 5-29 (17.2%) during the trip
- The penalty kill remains one of the best in the league. It went 22-25 (88%) over the road trip and sits at 88.6% on the year, trailing only Prince Albert (ugh)
- Prince Albert also has 9 shorthanded goals and a +3 goal differential when on the penalty kill. They’re really not even fair this year
- Connor Dewar got his own shorty in Swift Current last week as well:
- Distance traveled: 2,982 miles (including trip home)
- You could drive from Everett to Disneyland and back and you’d still travel 600 miles less than the Tips just did
Finally, the Tips have come back to Everett!
For the first time in nearly 3 weeks, the Silvertips will play a game at Angel of the Winds Arena. They’ve got the Tri-City Americans coming to town. The Americans are hot on Everett’s heels in the standings, sitting just 2 points behind with 2 games in hand. Tri-City also comes into Friday night riding a 5-game winning streak. In their first meeting this year, Everett came out on top 3-2 on the back of a 2-goal, 1-assist night from Riley Sutter. Special teams was the story in that meeting, with Everett going 2-3 on the power play and holding Tri-City to 2-9 on their chances.
On Saturday, the Tips take a much shorter travel day than they just had when they travel to Spokane to face the 3rd place Chiefs. Spokane recently got back from their Eastern swing as well, going 3-3 against the same 6 teams Everett just played. They are 3-1-0-1 so far this season at home. This will be the first matchup between these two teams in 2018.