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WHL US Division – Everett Silvertips Notebook: Tips’ struggle to gain ground in the US Division.

The Silvertips drop two out of three games at home.

Goal celebration
Goal celebration
Doris Rupert

Everett was looking to gain ground on the US Division-leading Seattle Thunderbirds after an impressive week that included three wins in three games. The Silvertips scored 15 goals while only allowing one goal during that stretch. Carter Hart was fresh off being named WHL Goaltender of the Month and CHL Goaltender of the Week. "It feels good but it's honestly a team award ‘cause it shows we're not giving up a whole ton of scoring chances lately," said Hart about the awards. "We've been playing pretty solid and it shows for our team."

Lost to Tri-City 4-1

The Silvertips had a midweek matchup against US Division foes Tri-City. Newly acquired defenseman Brycen Martin was set to make his Silvertips debut and would be paired with Cole MacDonald. "It's been a good transition and it's nice to come to a good team," said Martin. "They worked with me a lot trying to get the system down quickly." Tri-City came out aggressive to begin the game, and in the process did not allow Everett to record a shot on goal until eleven minutes in. The Americans would get on the board first at 12:53. Traffic was building in front of Carter Hart and that allowed Parker AuCointo sneak one in off the rebound which gave Tri-City a 1-0 lead.

After one period Tri-City maintained their lead while outshooting Everett 9-3. The Americans continued their aggressiveness to start the second period, limiting Everett's chances. Tri-City would build a two goal lead when Dylan Coghlan was able to send one past Hart. At 16:57 Jordan Topping would be called for an interference penalty giving Everett a chance on the man advantage. Unfortunately for Everett Matt Fonteyne would fan on a shot which led to a counter attack for the Americans and Juuso Valimaki would score a short hander. After two periods Everett trailed 3-0 while being outshot 14-12.

Heading into the third period Everett had to score quickly in order to gain momentum. They were given the perfect opportunity at 2:50 when Kurtis Rutledgewas called for boarding. On the power play Brandon Carlo would steal the puck from Patrick Bajkov which led to another Tri-City counter attack. Carlo would make a pass in front and Beau McCue would beat Hart glove side for a second straight shorthanded goal. Now trailing 4-0, Everett would pull Hart in favor of Mario Petit. At 10:22 Everett would go on the penalty kill when Devon Skoleski was called for a high stick.

A minute into the kill Connor Dewar would cause a turnover and Everett had 2-on-1 advantage with Brian King trailing. The Silvertips would finally get on board with King putting away a rebounded shot from Dewar. Everett would be unable to find the back of the net again and were defeated 4-1 while outshooting Tri-City 24-20. Carter Hart stopped 12/16 shots in the loss while Mario Petit stopped 4/4 in relief.

Lost to Prince George 3-0

Everett returned to action Friday night against the Prince George Cougars. This was the fourth meeting between the two teams. Tensions were high right off the bat, which led to a fight between Dawson Leedahl and Josh Anderson at 6:27. Less than a minute later another fight would break out between Noah Juulsen and Jesse Gabrielle. The game stayed physical throughout. "That's kind of their style of hockey, we try to play in between the whistle with clean hits there and there," said Noah Juulsen. A huge hit by Leedahl at 15:05 led to another fight. Leedahl was given a game misconduct for the hit. Things would not get easier for Everett with Patrick Bajkov being called for a trip at 15:57. The Silvertips would have to kill a 5-on-3 power play for two minutes.

Carter Hart would not allow the Cougars to have any second chances on the power play, turning their shots away with the defense making crucial blocks. "It was a big part of the game and it got everyone's spirits up after we killed that off," said Hart.  Everett would kill the penalty and the game would be scoreless after one period with Prince George leading Everett in shots 10-6. At 2:36 in the second Everett would have to kill another penalty with Bajkov being called for another trip. Prince George would capitalize with Joseph Carvalho slapping one from the point and Colby McAuley putting in the rebound. Gabrielle would be called for a cross-check at 11:16. 18 seconds later Sam Ruopp would be given two minutes for a rough.

The Silvertips had a golden opportunity the tie the game having a 5-on-3 power play for 1:42. Unfortunately, Everett would not be able to score the equalizer. The Silvertips would have another chance at a 5-on-3 power play at 17:40 when Tate Olson was called for interference while Luke Harrison was already in for a trip. Yet again the Silvertips would be unable to tie the game. "They got a couple blocks there; we gotta get those through," said Noah Juulsen. "They did a pretty good job on their 5-on-3 but we gotta be more ready for that."

After two periods Prince George would lead 1-0 with shots being even at 17. Only 36 seconds in to begin the third period and Colby McAuley would find the back of the net off a rebounded shot to give the Cougars a two goal advantage. With less than two minutes remaining Everett would pull Hart for an extra attacker to cut the lead. Gabrielle would steal the puck from Devon Skoleski in the neutral zone and drop a pass close to the blue line for Kody McDonald to wrist one into the empty net giving Prince George the decisive 3-0 win. Shots were in favor of the Cougars 30-27 and Hart stopped 27/29 shots in the loss.

Defeated Vancouver 3-1

The Silvertips would have to put the loss to Prince George behind them because Vancouver was in town the next night. Everett would jump to a 1-0 lead at 9:57 when Matt Fonteyne took a rebounded shot from Patrick Bajkov and wristed the puck past Ryan Kubic's stick side. The Silvertips would maintain the 1-0 after one period and shots were even at nine. At 7:44 in the second Everett would increase their lead when Mackenzie Dwyer scored his first goal of the season on a one timer by the blue line. After two periods Everett would still lead 2-0 while trailing in shots 15-16. Vancouver would start the third period on the man advantage due to a high stick from Carson Stadnyk at 19:56 of the second period.

Forty-three seconds later, Tyler Benson scored off a deflection to cut the ‘Tips lead to one goal. The Giants were unable to find the equalizer and Everett would regain their two goal lead at 17:38 with Patrick Bajkov scoring off a Fonteyne rebounding shot. The Silvertips went on to win 3-1 while being outshot 21-22. Carter Hart stopped 21-of-22 shots to pick up his fifteenth win of the season.

Despite losing two of three games Everett did not lose any ground in the standings. "These losses are just temporary; we're gonna get the ball rolling pretty quickly," said Brycen Martin. The Silvertips still remain one point behind Spokane and four points behind Seattle in the US Division. Everett will face three US Division opponents this week and possibly have chance to lead the division. The Silvertips will face Portland Wednesday night, followed by Tri-City Friday, and finishing off the week Saturday night at Seattle. The line of Patrick Bajkov, Matt Fonteyne, and Graham Millar scored two of the four Everett goals during the week while also creating lots of chances. Carter Hart still leads the WHL with a 1.72 goals against average.