Silvertips take roller coaster ride
Everett dives right back into action tonight when the Tips travel to face the Portland Winterhawks. But that doesn't change the fact Everett just completed a three-in-three weekend full of positives and negatives.
"It was crazy," Everett winger Ryan Harrison said of the weekend. "It was really exciting and really up and down."
"It was definitely wild," winger Reid Petryk added. "Hopefully we can get a couple more huge wins coming up."
Everett's weekend roller coaster was as dramatic a ride as anything one would find at Disneyland, and it may prove pivotal in determining Everett's playoff fate.
Everett headed into the weekend staring straight into the face of a daunting challenge. The Tips had back-to-back home games against the top two teams in the WHL, Edmonton and Portland. That was followed by a road game against Vancouver, the team with the worst record in the league. Conventional wisdom had Everett losing big to the Oil Kings and Winterhawks, then needing to target the game against the Giants for any points earned toward the playoff race. The weekend then began as planned as the Tips were throttled by Edmonton 7-1.
But that's when the script took a dramatic U-turn. Everett stunned the Winterhawks, posting an unlikely 4-2 victory over the team with the best record in the league. Then in a flip-flop worthy of a lousy politician, the Tips turned around and lost 1-0 in overtime to Vancouver, the team with the worst record in the league.
"No one really expected us to beat Portland, and they probably expected us to beat Vancouver," Harrison said. "But beating Portland here at home on Saturday was huge for our group."
Everett managed a paltry 13 shots on goal in 60-plus minutes against the Giants. Vancouver wasn't a whole lot more dangerous as scoring chances were at a premium between two teams playing their fourth game in five nights.
"It was pretty slow, nothing too much happening," Harrison said of the loss to Vancouver. "There weren't too many shots, both teams played pretty good defensively and we couldn't get many scoring chances. We hit a couple posts in the first, but it was a bit slower than what we're used to.
"I think physically and mentally, after the win we had against Portland and the way emotions were running high, we were definitely a bit drained."
When the roller coaster finally came to a stop, Everett emerged with three points. The Tips caught Seattle for seventh place in the Western Conference -- Everett currently holds the tiebreaker by virtue of having one more win -- and moved eight points ahead of ninth-place Prince George. Eight teams make the playoffs.
Given the circumstances heading into the weekend, three points was a good haul for the Tips.
"If anyone had looked at the schedule they probably would have though we'd only get two, but getting three out of the weekend is big," Harrison said. "There's breathing room there and our focus and goal is to get seventh, that's what we think we deserve. So it's going to be a big test of games these last games."
But now the Tips have to deal with Portland again, this time on the road, and the Winterhawks are certain to have revenge in their minds.
"It's definitely gong to be a battle," Pteryk said. "Hopefully we can do the same things against that we did against them this weekend and hopefully get the two points."
Around the WHL
The Saskatoon Blades finally had their 18-game winning streak snapped when the Moose Jaw Warriors rallied from a 4-0 third-period deficit to win 5-4 in overtime Sunday. The 18-game winning streak was the longest in the WHL this season. During that streak Blades coach Lorne Molleken became just the second coach in WHL history to reach the 600-win mark when Saskatoon topped Brandon 4-1 Friday. Ken Hodge holds the league record with 742 coaching wins. Tri-City's Justin Feser is the league's new iron man as the overage center set a new league record by playing in his 312th consecutive game Friday against Seattle. The previous record was set by for defenseman Dwayne Newman playing for Brandon and Victoria from 1987-92. Portland added to its coaching staff when Steve Kariya was hired for the remainder of the season to handle video duties. Edmonton's Michael St. Croix was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 19-year-old center had two goals and seven assists as the Oil Kings went 3-0.
Points -- Brendan Leipsic (Portland) 111; goals -- Leipsic, Nicolas Petan (Portland) 44; assists -- Leipsic 67; penalty minutes -- Carter Proft (Spokane) 180; wins -- Andrey Makarov (Saskatoon) 35; goals against average -- Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 1.66; save percentage -- Patrik Bartosak (Red Deer) .935.
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
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