However, the long journey north seems to have been just the tonic the Tips needed.
Everett responded well to last Wednesday’s defeat against Spokane, sweeping its two games at Prince George over the weekend to get itself back on course.
“I thought the team responded really well,” said Tips winger Parker Stanfield, who had three assists in the two games against his former team. “Obviously Wednesday wasn’t too good. But we came back, we were fired up, we stayed focused, and it showed with two wins.”
Everett opened the weekend with a 4-1 victory Friday, a game in which the Tips scored three third-period goals to snap a 1-1 tie. Then Everett topped the Cougars 4-3 on Saturday, with goaltender Kent Simpson making a critical save on a penalty shot late in the contest to preserve the victory.
The victories helped Everett climb in the Western Conference standings as the Tips caught Prince George for sixth place. Three weeks earlier Everett was in 10th (last) place, but the Tips are 7-2-2-0 in their past 11 games, and with 13 games remaining in the season Everett finds itself six points clear of the playoff threshold. Five teams are battling for the conference’s final three playoff berths.
“It was a big weekend for us,” Everett coach Craig Hartsburg said. “I thought Friday night we were OK. I don’t think we played great, though it was good enough to win. I thought Saturday we played a pretty strong game for the most part.”
Everett has had its challenges finding the net this season, with only three players who have cracked 30 points so far this season. However, the Tips received offensive contributions from several players over the weekend. Six different players shared Everett’s eight goals, and nine different players recorded multiple points.
Two of Everett’s players were particularly inspired by playing in Prince George. Not only was Stanfield returning to the arena where he played for three seasons, rookie winger Jari Erricson was playing in his hometown for the first time since joining the Tips. Erricson responded with a goal and an assist.
Hartsburg also said he thought center Ryan Harrison, who had two goals and an assist in the two games, played his best back-to-back games since arriving in Everett at January’s trade deadline. But Hartsburg credited a team effort for the success in Prince George.
“When you win, everybody helps,” Hartsburg said. “There’s three or four guys who maybe get the goals, but everybody has to play well to win in this game. We can’t rely on three or four guys. As the weekend went on we got more and more from everybody and that’s the reason why we won two.”
Now Hartsburg wants to see that level of play sustained, something the Tips have struggled to do this season.
“For this group it’s all about their attitudes,” Hartsburg said. “We went up there with the right attitude: that we were going to work, compete and play a good team game. Other days it seems we want to find an easy way to get it done, and in this league we’re not good enough to have that attitude. So we have to continue with that.”
Around the WHL
Tips center Landon Ferraro has resumed skating. Ferraro hasn’t played since Jan. 16 after undergoing surgery to repair a hernia. There’s still no definitive timetable for Ferraro’s return. ... The WHL’s second outdoor game took place Monday afternoon in Calgary. Regina beat Calgary 3-2 before a record junior hockey crowd of 20,888. The first outdoor game in league history took place Jan. 15 in Spokane. ... Brandon’s Mark Stone was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 18-year-old forward had four goals and nine assists as the Wheat Kings went 3-0.
League leaders (through Sunday)
Points — Linden Vey (Medicine Hat) 99; goals — Tyler Johnson (Spokane) 45; assists — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer) 66; penalty minutes — Darren Kramer (Spokane) 257; wins — Darcy Kuemper (Red Deer) 38; goals against average — Kuemper 1.85; save percentage — Kuemper .933.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
Opponent: Tri-City AmericansWhen: 7:05 p.m.Where: Toyota Center, KennewickRadio: KRKO (1380 AM)Live blogging: www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog
Tonight is the eighth of 10 meetings between Everett (25-25-5-4) and Tri-City (36-16-2-2 going into Monday night's home game against Spokane) this season. Everett holds a 4-3 series lead, but Tri-City prevailed 7-4 when the the teams last met on Jan. 22 in Kennewick.
Tonight represents an unusual four-games-in-five-nights stretch for Tri-City. The Americans played host to Spokane on Monday, a game that was rescheduled after the new year's eve contest between the two teams had to be postponed because of ice issues at the Toyota Center.
Tri-City remains in the race for first place in the Western Conference, largely because of its offensive firepower. Nineteen-year-olds Adam Hughesman (39 goals, 40 assists), Brendan Shinnimin (25 goals, 49 assists) and Carter Ashton (24 goals, 27 assists) are just three of the weapons the Americans can call upon.
Tri-City's top goaltender, 19-year-old Drew Owsley (30-14-1-1, 2.80 goals against average, .912 save percentage), has been out because of a knee injury of undetermined severity. Sixteen-year-old rookie Chris Driedger (4-2-0-1, 3.28 goals against average, .882 save percentage) has carried the mail with Owsley out. Nick Patterson, Herald writer
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