By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
The Everett Silvertips are two-thirds of the way through their longest road trip of the season, and although the Tips have left some points on the table, they say the road has treated the team well so far.
“I’m happy for the kids,” Tips coach Mark Ferner said via cell phone from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where the team is headquartered for its games tonight against Prince Albert and Saturday against Saskatoon. “Right now we’re sitting at 2-2 and we could easily be 3-1. Are we? No. But we’re doing a lot of good things. We just have to focus on having a 60-minute effort and playing a full 200 feet, and good things will happen.”
Everett went 2-2 in the first four games of the road trip. The Silvertips opened the trip with a come-from-behind victory at Brandon. The Tips then lost back-to-back games at Regina and Moose Jaw, two games Everett could have won. But the Tips are coming off a solid 3-1 victory at Swift Current on Wednesday that buoyed the team’s mood.
“We’ve got to be more consistent, but other than that, I’d say we’ve played pretty well for the most part,” said center Kohl Bauml, a Saskatoon native whose family hosted the team Thursday night. “I think we’re on the right track. We’re close to being a good team.”
The trip was beginning to shape up as something of a disaster for the Tips. After beating Brandon, Everett built two-goal leads against both Regina and Moose Jaw before squandering those leads and coming away with nothing.
“Penalties hurt us in the Regina game,” Ferner said. “Then in the Moose Jaw game, there were things that happened that we couldn’t control. Their first goal went off one of the d-men’s skate, the second was a rebound that bounced off the guy’s chest and in. That’s hockey, and we haven’t had those types of breaks yet.”
Against Swift Current, Everett built a 2-0 lead before Swift Current cut the lead to one in the second period and put the Tips under pressure. But this time the Tips found a way to hold on, keeping the Broncos scoreless in the third period, and Bauml secured the victory with an empty-net goal, his second goal of the game.
Finally securing a two-goal lead was a relief to the Tips.
“(Losing the previous two-goal leads) was always in the back of our minds,” Bauml said of the Swift Current game. “We got up 2-0, and after they scored they took it to us for about five minutes. But we were able to hold them off, get out of the second period, and we played a good third period on the road.
“It was nice to get that win,” Bauml added. “It was a long bus ride to Saskatoon after the game, and that made for a happy bus and a happy couple days.”
A big factor in Everett’s ability to compete has been the stabilization of the goaltending situation. No. 1 Austin Lotz remains out with a groin strain, though he’s at least back on his skates. But Daniel Cotton has become the unlikely savior. Cotton was acquired Oct. 7 just to serve as an emergency backup. But with Lotz injured and Cole Holowenko struggling, Cotton stepped up and has played every minute in goal for the Tips during the trip. He sports a solid 2.64 goals against average and .906 save percentage.
“He’s been good,” Ferner said of Cotton. “Goaltending is a pretty important part of the game, and he’s giving us a chance to win. He’s made some great saves, no question.”
Ferner also had positive things to say about the performance of Everett’s rookie forwards during the trip.
“Even though they’re not putting up numbers, they’re starting to get it,” Ferner said. “(Dawson) Leedahl and (Ty) Mappin and (Tyler) Sandhu and (Carson) Stadnyk, I think the guys are really coming (on). The trip has been good for them. Even though they haven’t had much success offensively, you can see their games start to come.”
Everett signed goaltending prospect Nik Amundrud to a Western Hockey League education contract Thursday, committing Amundrud’s future to the Tips. Amundrud, who turns 15 Saturday, was one of Everett’s three third-round picks in this year’s bantam draft. He was selected 59th overall. The 6-foot-1, 160-pound native of Melfort, Saskatchewan, impressed during training camp. … The Tips had two prospects selected to play in the Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup on Nov. 1-4 in Calgary, Alberta. Defenseman Kevin Davis, Everett’s first-round pick in this year’s bantam draft, will represent British Columbia. Goaltender Mario Petit, who went undrafted but was listed by the Tips, will suit up for Manitoba.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.