The Everett Silvertips completed the first half of their season Sunday with a flourish, blowing out the Portland Winterhawks 8-3 at Angel of the Winds Arena. The victory improved Everett’s record to 21-13-1-1, which means the Tips hit the Christmas break by passing Portland for first place in both the U.S. Division and the Western Conference. It’s been quite the turnaround for Everett:
A Tale of Two Seasons:
On Oct. 27 the #Silvertips went to Kamloops with a 4-9-1 record. They had lost 4 in a row and 7 of 8.
They are 16-4-0-1 since.
If they beat Portland on Sunday they'll enter the holiday break atop the U.S. Division (Winterhawks do have 3 games in hand).
— Jesse Geleynse (@JesseGeleynse) December 17, 2017
So at the halfway point, who’s been the MVP for the Tips?
The easy answer is goaltender Carter Hart. Hart’s numbers are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in the WHL, as in 17 games he’s compiled a 13-3-0-1 record with a minuscule 1.32 goals against percentage and insane .961 save percentage. Everett’s turnaround happens to coincide with Hart returning from his bout with mononucleosis.
But Hart isn’t the only possible answer, as evidenced by the Tips continuing to roll the past weekend despite Hart being away with Team Canada for the World Junior Hockey Championships. A good case can be made for winger Patrick Bajkov. Bajkov is the team’s runaway points leader with 51 (20 goals, 31 assists) — no one else has more than 38 — and given that Everett is not heavy in top-end skill players, it’s hard to imagine where the Tips would be without his offensive contributions.
And then there’s defenseman Kevin Davis. When a team is leading the league in fewest goals allowed, it’s not all because of the goaltender. Davis has been a rock on Everett’s blue line, and he’s had to be as he’s the only true veteran defenseman among a Tips defense where everyone else is 18 or younger. He also happens to be third on the team in scoring with 31 points (four goals, 27 assists).
Or maybe you think it’s someone else. Perhaps you prefer the dogged two-way work provided by forwards Matt Fonteyne and Connor Dewar. Or maybe you like the contributions winger Sean Richards has made since moving onto Everett’s top line.
Vote away. And if you choose “Other,” let me know who: