It’s that time of year again, when flannel makes a comeback and pumpkin spice lattes spring up all over the place. That’s right, hockey season is back! The Everett Silvertips got thrown right into the season with three games this past weekend, starting with a home and home against the Vancouver Giants followed by a playoff rematch against the Portland Winterhawks. It did not go quite as well as they had hoped. But on the bright side, the Billy Joel and Elton John impersonators playing dueling pianos at the intermissions on Saturday were absolutely delightful.
Warning: There will be Billy Joel and Elton John related puns ahead, so if you hate fun you should turn back now.
Friday gave us the first glimpse of Martin Fasko-Rudas on the top line, which is something I’ve been very excited about all summer. Thankfully, he didn’t go breaking my heart. He spent most of last season stuck behind a really solid top-6. This year, with half of that top-6 movin’ out, he’s getting his chance to be a big shot. He notched the team’s first goal of the year on Friday night on a deflection from Wyatte Wylie.
A rocket from the blue line by @NHLFlyers prospect @WyatteWylie86 ties the game between Vancouver and the @WHLsilvertips!#WHLOpeningWeek pic.twitter.com/gKp8RBmkuN— The WHL (@TheWHL) September 22, 2018
Unfortunately the team couldn’t get anything else past goaltender David Tendeck, who had a hell of a weekend.
The Silvertips played their first game back in Angel of the Winds Arena on Saturday night against the same Vancouver Giants. They got off to a bit of a rough start, taking 8 minutes in penalties in the first period, but the Giants only managed to score once with the man advantage. The Tips were able to come back in the second when Connor Dewar told the Giants “I’m still standing!” and deflected a point shot from Wyatte Wylie to net his first of the season.
Dewar in the trenches: you know what happens next. #LetsGoTips pic.twitter.com/ulCfuFL0pL— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) September 23, 2018
The Giants took control in the third period, and with 5 minutes remaining took a 2-1 lead during 4 on 4 play. They’d add an empty net goal late off of a bad giveaway by Jake Christiansen. Overall, it was not the homecoming the Tips had hoped for. Here’s what head coach Dennis Williams had to say about Saturday’s game:
“Good second, poor third.”
Why spend a paragraph when you can sum it up in four words? Nicely done coach.
The third and final game of the weekend came at home against the Portland Winterhawks, where the Tips would finally get that first win in what felt like the longest time. Portland scored first, but Everett refused to let the sun go down on them this time. Dewar scored his second of the year and Wylie got one more assist, which means he’s got a nice little 3-game point streak going right now. Jackson Berezowski got a chance to play on a line with Dewar and it paid off with his first career WHL goal.
☑️ 1st goal in @TheWHL— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) September 24, 2018
That's a big one for @jacksonbere7. #LetsGoTips pic.twitter.com/TqYpkEN7Gg
For the third straight night the Tips played to a final score of 3-1, but this time they finished on the right side of it. They were the only team to open the season with 3 games over the weekend and came out 1-2. Not the ideal start, but they did salvage something on Sunday.
In this next section, I’ll run through some thoughts/stats/highlights of the weekend.
- Connor Dewar has stepped into the starring role nicely, already notching 4 points in the first 3 games. He is the only one of the top-5 point scorers from last season still with the team.
- The Silvertips took 63 minutes of penalties on 18 infractions over the weekend. Luckily Vancouver and Portland combined to go 1/12 on the power play.
- Speaking of power plays, Everett only managed to go 2/16 on their chances. One of those goals came on a 5-on-3 opportunity.
- Dustin Wolf did this:
Save rating: /10— The WHL (@TheWHL) September 22, 2018
CC @WHLsilvertips #WHLOpeningWeek pic.twitter.com/6fHi0nZJo6
- He’s also boasting a 1.69 GAA and .934 SV% through 3 games. Carter Who, am I right?
- The line combinations have been drastically different so far, outside of Sutter and Fasko-Rudas playing on the top line. Dewar has played with six different linemates through three games.
- Jake Christiansen is a good candidate to lead the defense in points due to a strong transition game. After tracking zone entries on Saturday, he was the only defender to successfully carry the puck in, and accounted for nearly half of all entries from defensemen.
- The Giants appeared on the CHL preseason top-10 rankings as an honorable mention. Goaltender David Tendeck has improved all of his numbers significantly with each passing year. Those two losses may not look too bad as the season rolls on.
- I jammed 6 Billy Joel/Elton John references in here, 7 if you count the headline. It would have been 8, but there were no fighting majors on Saturday so I guess Saturday night wasn’t alright for fighting.
After playing three games in three days, the Silvertips will only play once in the next 11 days. This gives them some time to practice together with the entire team, something they were only able to do once before opening weekend. It’s an unfortunate by product of last year’s deep playoff run. NHL teams tend to want to look more at the guys that helped their team get furthest into the playoffs. Most of their returning core spent time at NHL rookie training camps. Dewar and Riley Sutter didn’t return until Thursday, and Christiansen came back even later. The practice should be good especially for the anemic power play.
“We haven’t got to practice it yet.,” said coach Williams when asked about the power play. “We’ve had one practice together as a group.”
In a way, these next two weeks will be the real training camp for the team. This is their chance to develop some chemistry between lines. It’s also going to give them the chance to get some power play practice in. The power play has looked very out of sorts thus far. There have already been an abundance of passes to nobody that result in Everett clearing the offensive zone themselves. Some time together should help them figure out where their teammates are.
The Silvertips will visit the Tri-City Americans on Satruday, September 29th. The Americans are currently 1-0, defeating the Spokane Chiefs 6-1 in their first game.