What we saw: Overview
But I'm not going to lie. Covering the team this season was a lot of fun.
For three years Everett was completely irrelevant in the WHL. The Tips finished eighth out of 10 teams in the Western Conference, just squeezing into the conference's final playoff berth. The team finished with a .465 winning percentage in 2010-11, then dropped below .400 the next two seasons. Everett's teams weren't very good, and frankly they weren't very interesting, either. I know those three seasons were wearisome for the fans. They were wearisome for the beat reporter, too. It gets old asking the same questions about why a team is struggling (just as I'm sure it gets old having to answer those questions, too). It gets old knowing that whenever Portland comes to town we're going to be treated to a mismatch. It gets old doing previews for playoff series everyone knows are unlikely to last longer than four games.
So this season was a refreshing change.
For the first time since 2009-10 the Tips were relevant. Twenty-eight games into the season Everett found itself at the top of the entire WHL standings. The Tips won 11 of their final 13 games -- with both the losses coming in shootout against a team that's lost just once since Jan. 10 -- to nearly steal home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Everett finished the season 39-23-7-3, and the team's 88 points were the third-most in franchise history, a surprising fact given the success the team experienced during its first four seasons.
The success didn't quite carry over into the postseason. Though Everett was more competitive in the playoff games against first-round opponent Seattle than it was in its previous three first-round series, the end results were the same as the Tips were knocked out in five games.
But unlike the previous three years, those games mattered. This was no case of merely awaiting the inevitable. Even at the start of the third period of Game 5, there was still the thought in the corner of my mind that Everett might stage a remarkable comeback. Last year, even though the Tips beat Portland twice in the first round, there were never any illusions about Everett possibly winning the series. And the fact those games mattered made covering the team a whole lot more fun.
Everett's season wasn't perfect. The team suffered through a terrible drought midseason in which it went 6-17-3-1. The Tips still struggled at times to find the net. And the playoff loss to Seattle made it seven straight years in which Everett was eliminated in the first round. But I think I speak for everyone when I say there was more joy to be had following the Silvertips this season than there was in a long time.
Next: What we saw: Constantine returns
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