Bullet points today:
– Quick check on the U.S. Division. Still good? Still good. When the week began the U.S. Division had four of the top five winning percentages in the WHL. Portland (nine straight wins) and Seattle continued to roll midweek, though Spokane dropped a game on the road to Kamloops, meaning there’s only three teams in the division that now have winning percentages over .700. Heck, even last-place Tri-City is a .500 team. Evidence continues to mount that the U.S. Division is the place to be this season.
– I hope you’re in the mood for some hockey, because Everett fans are about to get a heavy dose. Eight of Everett’s next nine games are at home. But this isn’t your standard get-fat-at-home stretch. All nine of those games come in the next 16 days, and it includes a week with four home games (not sure I’ve ever seen that before). There’s even that Monday afternoon game on Veterans Day.
More significantly, this stretch includes Everett’s first games of the season against Seattle (Saturday) and Portland (Nov. 15). Everett’s riding high right now, with the best winning percentage in the league. But it won’t be until the Tips show they can compete with Portland and Seattle that they can be considered any kind of contender.
– Friday sees the Brandon Wheat Kings come to town. That is the last of Brandon’s five-game swing through the U.S. Division. The Wheat Kings are 0-4 on the trip so far, so it’s up to the Tips to maintain U.S. Division dominance. If Everett wins, the first two East Division teams to come through the U.S. (Swift Current was the other) will have been swept.
The game also sees former Silvertips defenseman Nick Walters make his return to Comcast Arena. Walters, a first-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft, spent two-and-a-half seasons with Everett before being traded to Brandon at last season’s trade deadline. I look forward to catching up with Nick.