By Jesse Geleynse
PORTLAND — The Everett Silvertips face a difficult task this afternoon as they travel to Veterans Memorial Coliseum for a 5 p.m. matchup with the Portland Winterhawks.
The Winterhawks were ranked fifth in this week’s CHL poll after dropping down from the top spot. However, Portland (9-3, 18 points) has lost two straight, including a 6-4 loss to visiting Moose Jaw on Wednesday. The Winterhawks now trail Tri-City for U.S. Division lead by a point albeit with two games in hand.
Portland also dealt Everett a 7-4 defeat on opening night at Xfinity Arena.
The Tips (5-9-1, 11 points) come into Sunday’s game fresh off a 3-1 win over Kamloops that snapped a four-game losing streak. More importantly, however, was the stellar performance of rookie goaltender Dustin Wolf in that victory over the Blazers. The 16-year-old saved 38 of the 39 shots he faced and added an assist from the crease to pick up his first win in his WHL debut.
Wolf’s emergence following offseason hip surgery is a welcome addition for a Tips squad still waiting for Carter Hart to fully recover from mononucleosis.
Meanwhile, Everett forward Connor Dewar has four goals in the past two games and has assumed the team lead in scoring with nine goals to go along with nine assists. Dewar also has a plus-minus of zero and is the only skater without a plus-minus in the negative.
Patrick Bajkov added an assist Friday and leads the team with 21 points, while Matt Fonteyne adds eight goals and 10 assists.
Skyler McKenzier has a dozen goals to lead the Winterhawks in that category and is third with 19 points. Cody Glass (six goals, 15 assists), Kieffer Belows (nine goals, 11 assists) and Henri Jokiharju (five goals, nine assists) are all averaging better than a point per game.
Goaltender Cole Kehler has been impressive in net for the Winterhawks so far. He has a 7-1 record with a 2.38 goals-against average a .919 save percentage. He was the WHL Goaltender of the Week for the week of Oct. 2-8.
The Silvertips return home Friday for a 7:35 p.m. match-up against the visiting Prince George Cougars. Everett’s annual “Pink the Rink” game is Saturday against the Winterhawks beginning at 7:05 p.m.
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