It’s another sprint to the finish

Three weeks ago the Tips traveled to Prince George for a weekend twinbill with a chance to essentially land a knockout blow on the Cougars. Had Everett swept, the Tips would have moved 13 points ahead of Prince George in the standings, putting almost insurmountable distance between themselves and the ninth-place Cougars, thus taking a little pressure off for making the postseason. Instead, the team’s split, leaving the gap at nine and keeping Prince George within striking distance.

Since then the Cougars have picked up the pace, while the Tips haven’t won since. As a result, Everett finds itself in a battle just to make the playoffs. Again. Here’s the current standings:

7) Everett, 47 points

8) Seattle, 44 points

9) Prince George, 42 points

Seattle and Everett both have 15 games remaining, Prince George has 16 remaining.

This is nothing new for the Tips. Everett’s playoff fate came down to the final weekend of the season each of the past two seasons, with the Tips squeaking into the eighth and final spot both times. Incidentally, Seattle and Prince George were among the teams battling with Everett for a playoff spot each of the past two years, too.

So with a month remaining in the regular season, it’s time to fasten those seat belts one more time.

The good news for Everett is that help is on the way. Four injured players were back on the ice for practice today, and they should be trickling back into the lineup.

One will be available for Thursday’s game at Kelowna as winger Tyler Sandhu has been cleared to return from his concussion. Goaltender Austin Lotz (ankle) will also return to uniform, though he won’t play in this weekend’s games unless absolutely necessary. Leading scorer Joshua Winquist is still considered day to day because of his upper-body injury. The Tips are targeting next week for Austin Adam (mononucleosis).

Winger Lucas Grayson (lower body) and defenseman Ayrton Nikkel (finger) remain out.

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