Everett is slogging through a rough stretch, both in terms of the schedule and results, and the Tips are desperate to have something break their way.
"It's tough," Tips overager Landon Oslanski said when asked how the team is handling the skid. "It's always tough when it happens. The only thing you can do is go out there, play simple and turn things around slowly. But it will come."
Everett is banged up and weary. Tonight's game at Tri-City is the Tips' seventh in 11 days. Six of those seven games required a lengthy bus ride. The one that didn't had Everett holed up in Spokane for four days.
And the Tips have had to deal with this stretch short-handed. Everett has just 12 full-time forwards on the roster, which is the typical number that dress for games. But Everett has played this stretch almost completely without its top two scoring forwards. Winger Joshua Winquist has missed eight straight games because of a combination of a groin pull and mononucleosis, while center Manraj Hayer sat out the past five because of an upper-body injury. Both will be out again tonight.
It's all taken a toll on the Tips. After losing 4-2 to Red Deer on Wednesday, Everett has dropped seven straight. This on the heels of a four-game winning streak that seemed to turn Everett's season around. The Tips were competitive in most of those defeats, but Everett is having all kinds of difficulty scoring goals, finding the net just 10 times in those seven games.
"I definitely think we need to get a break," Tips forward Reid Petryk said.
"I just think we have to focus, and every time we get a chance just throw it on the net and hopefully it goes in," Petryk added. "We just need to get one, then more will come, so we just have to throw pucks at the net."
While the losing is taking a mental and emotional toll, the Tips seem to be maintaining their spirit. Everett coach Mark Ferner made Thursday's practice optional to give the players an opportunity to rest. Nevertheless, 22 of the 24 showed up and took part anyway.
"Emotionally the team is doing real well," Ferner said. "Today was a maintenance day, we gave the kids the option, and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of kids we had out there.
"You're concerned about the mental side of it, with a tough stretch where we haven't had any success," Ferner added. "But they're good, they're very optimistic every time they come to the dressing room. That's the positive, and I just told the kids that we have to believe in what we're doing here, continue to compete the way we have, and good things will happen."
The shortage up front has thrust Everett's young rookies into major roles, with 16-year-olds Tyler Sandhu, Ty Mappin and Dawson Leedahl all playing on Everett's top three lines. The trio is starting to have an impact. Wednesday's game was the first where all three registered a point in the same game.
Most importantly, all three have held up to the physical rigors of this stretch.
"We talk to them about that and they feel good about themselves as far as the physical aspect is concerned," Ferner said. "I'm sure they haven't played this much in a long time, if ever. This is our last game coming up in this stretch, and I think we've monitored it pretty good."
After tonight the Tips at least get that physical break. Everett has a full week off following tonight as the Tips don't play again until traveling to Victoria on Nov. 16.
Tonight Everett will be hoping a result breaks its way, too.
Ferner said Oslanski, who skated as a winger in two of Everett's past three games, will remain at forward for the time being. The Tips currently are short up front and overloaded at the back with nine defensemen on the roster. Playing Oslanski, who scored a goal Wednesday, as a forward frees up playing time for Everett's younger defensemen. Everett signed 16-year-old winger Kyle Raymond to a WHL education contract and called him up for tonight's game. Raymond, Everett's seventh-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft, is playing for the Princeton Posse of the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, where he has five goals and seven assists in 17 games. Raymond will return to Princeton following tonight's game. ... The Tips reassigned center Brandon Bruce to Merritt of the junior A British Columbia Hockey League. Bruce was brought in as an emergency fill-in and appeared in four games with Everett without scoring.
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
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