Silvertips’ Winquist has a knack for finding the net

EVERETT — When Joshua Winquist was a 16-year-old rookie in 2009-10, he had a front-row seat for watching then overager Shane Harper have the greatest goal-scoring season in Everett Silvertips franchise history.

Saturday night the circle was completed when Winquist, now an overager himself, supplanted Harper in the record books.

Winquist broke the franchise record and became the Silvertips’ single-season goal-scoring king with two goals in Saturday’s 5-2 victory at Seattle.

The two goals gave Winquist 43 this season. That surpassed the previous franchise best of 42 set by Harper in 2009-10.

“It feels pretty good,” the 20-year-old from St. Albert, Alberta, said about breaking the record. “I’ve had a lot of help from playing with good linemates all season and the puck has just been going in for me this year.”

Winquist had a mere three goals the season Harper set his record. His path to history closely mirrored that of Harper, who went from scoring six goals as a 16-year-old to setting the franchise record as a 20-year-old.

“It’s kind of cool I know the guy who’s record I beat,” Winquist said. “I played with him and saw him score all 42 of them. It’s just a cool thing to do.”

Winquist had the good fortune of both tying and breaking the record in the same game.

First, Winquist scored his 42nd of the season at 13 minutes, 2 seconds of the second period last Saturday. With the scored tied 1-1, the Tips broke three-on-two. Jujhar Khaira drove the net, drawing the defense. Ivan Nikolishin then fed a cross-ice pass to Winquist, who had a free run at goal. Winquist made a quick move, then put the puck over Seattle goaltender Taran Kozun’s shoulder at the near post, giving the Tips the lead and himself a piece of the record.

Winquist then made the record his own with 1:45 remaining in the game — in somewhat anticlimactic fashion. Nikolishin sprung Winquist free for a breakaway at an empty net, with Winquist giving a little more celebration than an empty-net goal usually warrants.

“All I could think was don’t be that guy who misses the net,” Winquist said. “Usually you don’t celebrate empty-net goals. You kind of just skate off or skate to the bench. But the boys came and congratulated me because it was a pretty big moment. It was pretty cool.

“My job is to help contribute offense to the team,” Winquist added. “If it’s a goal or an assist, it doesn’t really matter. If I can help the team generate offense, that’s all that really counts. I got lucky and I got it that night. The more important thing was it was a must-win game and we got the two points.”

Winquist broke the record despite missing five games because of injuries.

Winquist also has 43 assists this season, giving him 86 points. He’d have to have a great final week to catch Zach Hamill’s single-season franchise record of 93 points set in 2006-07. Winquist’s 97 career goals rank third in franchise history behind Maxwell (107) and Harper (100).

Winquist managed to avoid any drama about setting the single-season goal-scoring record. In 2010-11 Tyler Maxwell scored his 41st goal of the season in Everett’s 67th game, but he then went goalless over the final five contests to finish one short of the record. Winquist managed to break the record with four games still to play.

“Now I’m going to try and make (the record) as big as I can,” Winquist said.

With the record firmly in hand, Winquist and the Tips can spend the final week of the regular season concentrating on trying to move further up the Western Conference standings.

Everett still can finish anywhere between fourth and sixth place in the conference. When the week began the Tips were in sixth with 81 points, trailing fourth-place Seattle by five and fifth-place Spokane by one. All three teams had four games remaining. Spokane played at Seattle on Tuesday, with the Tips traveling to Spokane tonight.

For Everett to have a chance of passing Spokane — and thus setting up the possibility of the first Everett-Seattle playoff series in the 11 years the Tips have been in the league — Everett will likely have to win tonight against the Chiefs. However, that would require an accomplishment Everett hasn’t managed in more than four years. The last time the Tips won a game at Spokane Arena was Feb. 24, 2010. Since then Everett has lost 18 straight road games against Spokane.

“It’s a big game,” Winquist said. “We know we have to try and go there and beat them in regulation, try and keep it a two-point game instead of a three-point game.

“We just need to play a full 60 and not let it get in our heads that it’s the weirdest rink in the world,” Winquist added, referencing the long line changes that take place in two periods in Spokane, rather than just once in all other rinks. “We just need to go there and beat them by working hard.”

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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