Ankle injury sidelines Silvertips’ top goalie Lotz

EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips came away with a pair of victories from their wild weekend in British Columbia, but it came at a cost.

Goaltender Austin Lotz returned to Everett with an ankle injury, leaving the Silvertips to face their busiest stretch of the season without their No. 1 netminder.

“(Lotz) ended up twisting his ankle, so that’s going to keep him out for a while,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine revealed following Tuesday’s practice at Comcast Arena.

It was a hectic and unexpected weekend for the Tips. Everett spent the first 12 games of the season playing primarily low-scoring games, with a total of just 60 goals scored between Everett and its opponents. But the weekend saw 24 goals scored in just two games as the Tips won 6-5 at Vancouver on Friday and 7-6 in overtime at Kamloops on Saturday.

“It was lots of goals,” Constantine said. “It wasn’t that completely different of hockey, other than pucks kept going in at each side of the rink. In a sense, I guess that’s entertaining. It was a little nerve-wracking along with entertaining. But guys found a way to win, which is good.

“You measure scoring chances and shots, and if you look at those they were all within what would be considered normal,” Constantine added. “For both teams the puck just went in.”

The high-scoring games included seven points from winger Joshua Winquist, including the game-winning goal against Kamloops. Winquist was named the WHL Player of the Week for his efforts.

“That was pretty cool,” Winquist said about being named Player of the Week. “It never happened to me before, so it’s a big honor and I’m happy with it.

“Those games were fun, everyone likes lots of goals,” Winquist added. “But we have to work on our defense after giving up 11 in two games. That’s not good enough.”

However, in the closing minutes of Saturday’s game in Kamloops the Silvertips suffered a blow. Kamloops scored with 6.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the score at 6-6 and force overtime. On the play Lotz, who was making his 11th-consecutive start, twisted his ankle. After being attended to by Everett athletic trainer Marc Paquet, Lotz finished out the game. But now Lotz is sporting a walking boot.

“There was some concern at first that it was maybe a six-week injury,” Constantine said. “We’re hopeful that it’s maybe only half of that, maybe three or four weeks, but it’s going to be at least three weeks.”

Lotz’s injury came at a critical juncture. Everett has a busy November, including 13 games in 23 days beginning Friday at home against Brandon. Now the Tips will play that stretch without a goalie who is 9-2-1-0, and who last week was leading the WHL in both goals against average and save percentage.

Fortunately for the Tips, they have a reliable back-up plan. Daniel Cotton may not have played in a while, but the 19-year-old is an experienced veteran who is among the best second options in the league. He had stretches last season where he was Everett’s top option, most notably during Everett’s long road trip through the East Division, when he played every minute as the Tips won four of six. This season he’s 1-0-1-0 with a 3.40 goals against average and .895 save percentage.

“In training camp I thought Cotton won the right to maybe even start,” Constantine said. “He got hurt so we played Lotz the first game. But because of his training camp we gave him the second game of the year in Vancouver, and because of the 4-1 win we gave him the third game of the year. At one point during the year he had kind of won the job a little bit. But we tried to use the same decision making as in training camp, which was performance based on who gets the net. When Lotz won some games, he was given the ball to run with.

“This is an opportunity now, and everyone who plays sports is waiting for that chance. Now Cotton gets a chance to play and also show he can get the job done.”

Everett called up 16-year-old Nik Amundrud to serve as Cotton’s back-up while Lotz is out. Amundrud was a third-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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