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WHL US DIVISION – Everett Silvertips Notebook: ‘Tips start new year leading US Division.

The Silvertips came back from their holiday break to take three of four games. They now lead the US Division with 46 points.

Jubilee Le

Everett returned to the ice after the holiday break on December 27 for a matchup at Vancouver. These two met up just before the break with the Giants victorious over Everett 2-1. The Tips only trailed Seattle by one point for the US Division lead with the Thunderbirds having a game in hand.

Lost to Vancouver 4-2

Everett would strike first at 19:14 when Graham Millar centered a pass from the right wing corner to Patrick Bajkov who was going hard to the net. After one period Everett would maintain the 1-0 lead while outshooting Vancouver 15-10.

At 8:37 Vancouver would even the game at one with Ty Ronning burying a pass by the left post. Millar would be called for interference at 10:10 and the Giants would capitalize on the man advantage in 44 seconds. Matt Barberis would hammer in a rebound by the left wing side to give Vancouver the 2-1 lead. 26 seconds later Vancouver would strike again with Owen Hardy sneaking a shot top shelf past Carter Hart to increase the lead to 3-1. Everett would get their first power play chance at 13:48 when Jack Flaman was called for goaltender interference. Unfortunately, Everett was unable to cash in on the man advantage and Vancouver maintained their 3-1 lead after two periods while outshooting Everett 11-6.

At 16:01 in the third, the Giants would make it a three goal game when Alec Baer received a pass from behind the net. The initial shot hit the post but he would bury his own rebound. Everett would get one back 12 seconds later with Bajkov's second goal of the night -- a wrister past Ryan Kubic's stick side. Despite outshooting Vancouver 13-10 in the third period, Everett was unable to score again and would lose 4-2. Carter Hart stopped 27-31 shots in the loss.

Defeated Kelowna 2-1 in OT

The Silvertips final game of 2015 was in Kelowna, where they have not won since 2012. Everett would have to take advantage of the Western Conference leaders who were missing six players. Rourke ChartierTomas Soustal, and Calvin Thurkauf were all in Finland participating in the World Junior Championships. Justin Kirkland and Riley Stadel were serving suspensions. Rodney Southam was out with an injury.

There was no scoring in the first period despite close chances by both teams. Brian King had the best chance for Everett when he redirected a puck wide left. The Rockets outshot Everett 10-5 during the period.

At 11:45 Kelowna would get on the board first with Dillion Dube wristing a shot by the right circle past Carter Hart. Everett would answer right back 25 seconds later when there was traffic building in front of Jackson Whistle and Graham Millar would bury a goal down by the right post. After two periods the game would remain even at one with Everett outshooting Kelowna 9-7.

Despite heavily outshooting Kelowna 20-7 in the third period the Silvertips were unable to find the go-ahead goal. Dawson Leedahl would end the Silvertips winless drought in Kelowna at 2:27 in the overtime period. Whistle initially stopped Cole MacDonald's backhander but Leedahl was crashing in front of the net to bury the rebound. Carter Hart stopped 24-of-25 shots in the win.

Defeated Kelowna 3-1

Everett welcomed in the New Year and the Kelowna Rockets to Xfinity Arena for a Friday matinee matchup. The Silvertips were sporting "throwback" jerseys in honor of the WHL's 50th anniversary. Everett would jump to the early lead at 2:56 when Remi Laurencelle buried a rebound by the right post. The Silvertips would get an opportunity at 17:18 to increase their lead when Cole Linaker was given two minutes for a high stick. Brycen Martin would help Everett cash in on the man advantage sending a wrister by the slot past Jackson Whistle giving the Silvertips a 2-0 lead. That goal by Martin was his first as a Silvertip. Everett would maintain the lead after one period while heavily outshooting Kelowna 13-2.

At 2:24 Tanner Wishnowsi was called for roughing, giving Everett another chance to build their lead. With seconds remaining in the power play Graham Millar would find the loose puck by the right circle and send a shot past Whistle to give Everett a 3-0 lead. Kelowna would cut into Everett's lead at 15:43 when Danny Gatenby beat Carter Hart glove side with a wrister by the right circle. After two periods Everett remained on top 3-1 while outshooting Kelowna still 12-6.

Despite outshooting Everett in the final period 8-6 and pulling Whistle with less than two minutes remaining, Kelowna was unable to score another goal giving the Silvertips two straight wins against the Rockets. Carter Hart stopped 15-of-16 shots to pick up his league-leading 2first win of the season. With Seattle losing the previous night Everett would take over first place in the division with 44 points.

Defeated Kamloops 4-3 in OT

Everett would head up to Kamloops the next night to square off against the Blazers. Carter Hart was slated to start but would get the night off due to illness. Mario Petit would get the nod in net for his second career start. The Blazers would strike first at 1:52 Collin Shirley backhanded shot trickling past Petit. The Silvertips answered back with Ralph sneaking in a deflected shot from Lucas Skrumeda at 17:19. After one period the game was tied at one with Everett leading in shots 11-5.

Patrick Bajkov would be called for a trip at 16:28 and 18 seconds later Kamloops would regain the lead. Deven Sideroff skated into the point and fired a shot beating Petit. Kamloops would remain on top 2-1 after two periods while barely outshooting Everett 9-8 in the period.

Kamloops would increase their lead to 3-1 at 5:28 thanks to Matt Revel. He would gain possession of the puck in the neutral zone, skate down by the left circle then fired a shot past Petit. Everett would get a chance to cut Kamloops' lead when Ryan Rehill was called for roughing at 6:38. A minute into the man advantage Everett would capitalize cutting their deficit to one. Connor Ingram initially stopped Graham Millar's backhanded shot but Matt Fonteyne was there to put away the rebound past Ingram's glove side. Cole MacDonald would connect on a pass to Carson Stadnyk who skated past Luke Zazula and snuck a shot over Ingram's stick side and the game was now knotted up at 12:49. Everett was heading into overtime for the second time in three games.

Only 46 seconds in and Everett would get the game winner from Noah Juulsen. Juulsen carried the puck into the Blazers zone by the left circle and then make a move wide sneaking a goal past Ingram. Mario Petit stopped 14-of-17 shots to pick up his first career WHL win.

Seattle would lose the same night which meant Everett held the US Division lead by three points. Only five points separates from first to fourth in the division. Carter Hart continues to lead the WHL in goaltending with 21 wins, 1.97 goals against average, and six shutouts. He's tied for the league lead with a 0.925 save percentage. With the WHL trade deadline coming up on January 10, one has to wonder if Everett make a move.

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Everett recently called up defenseman Montana Onyebuchi. Onyebuchi was taken in the third round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.