By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
LYNNWOOD — The first weekend of the season may have been a rough one for the Everett Silvertips, but at least there were signs of progress on offense.
Now, the Tips need to get things sorted out at their own end of the ice.
Everett plays its first road games of the season when the Tips travel to face Tri-City tonight and Vancouver on Friday, and Everett’s priority is shoring up the leaks in its defense.
The Tips suffered two losses to Prince George last weekend in two very different ways. Everett was blown out 6-0 in Saturday’s season opener, then fell 7-6 in a shootout the next night despite leading by three in the third period.
The difference in Everett’s ability to score goals between the two games was night and day. However, when it came to preventing goals the Tips remained enveloped by the midnight darkness throughout the weekend.
“That’s way too many goals to give up,” Tips captain and defenseman Ryan Murray said Wednesday following practice at Lynnwood Ice Center. “You can’t be giving up that many goals, no matter how many you score. We’ve got to tighten up in our own end and put more of an effort and focus onto our defensive play.”
Both nights were rough ones for Everett’s goaltenders. Austin Lotz received the start on Saturday and allowed five goals on 23 shots before being lifted for Cole Holowenko at the start of the third period. Holowenko got the start the following night and allowed six goals on 38 shots, then allowed four of Prince George’s seven shooters to convert in the shootout. Both Lotz and Holowenko allowed goals they probably would want back.
However, Everett coach Mark Ferner wasn’t going to pin the blame on his netminders.
“We’re going to win as a team, we’re going to lose as a team,” Ferner said. “We’re not going to point fingers at anybody. We know we need to get better from our goalie out.
“We had some breakdowns, no question about it, but you’re going to have that with a pretty young group, especially defensively,” Ferner added. “We’ve talked about it, we’re working on it, and we’re going to have to continue to get better at it.”
In Sunday’s game, Everett led 6-3 with less than 12 minutes remaining. However, the Cougars got the ball rolling thanks to an Everett defensive breakdown that led to an odd-man rush. Then Prince George scored twice late in the period, both times on scrambles near the net following shots off the rush.
“Sometimes I think we got scrambly and weren’t collapsing on our own net,” Murray said. “We just kind of got sloppy in our own end. Not too many of their goals were us giving them open nets or turning pucks over. A lot of it was their creating chances where we were just scrambling out there, not knowing what to do. So we we really worked on that in practice.”
Now, the Tips are hoping to see that same progress in the defensive zone in game three from game two as they saw on the offensive end in game two from game one.
“The second game we were a lot better in a lot of areas, so we just have to continue to build on those things,” Ferner said. “We also know we have to work on some things in some other areas where we weren’t that good.”
Everett has lost defenseman Austin Adam for four-to-six weeks because of a broken hand. The 17-year-old sophomore suffered a freak injury during practice Tuesday when his hand got caught in the partition between two panels of glass.
Meanwhile, centers Ty Mappin (upper body) and Ryan Chynoweth (lower body) are both considered day-to-day. Mappin, who sat out last weekend’s games, completed practice Wednesday and looks likely to return at some point during the two-game road swing. Chynoweth practiced with a no-contact jersey and is doubtful for tonight.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.