Everett was already missing two of its three overagers as forwards Joshua Winquist and Manraj Hayer were out with concussions. Now Everett’s third overager, defenseman and team captain Matt Pufahl, is also hobbled.
Pufahl went down late in Wednesday’s 1-0 shootout loss at Victoria as he took a shot off his foot and had to be helped off the ice. Pufahl hasn’t practiced since. He underwent tests, but the final results won’t be known until Saturday morning. Therefore, it’s iffy at best whether Pufahl plays Saturday night in Spokane.
The good news for Everett, however, is that Winquist may be back. Winquist, who hasn’t played since the Tips won 4-2 at Portland on Dec. 17 in the team’s final game of the first half, took full part in practice today. He’s questionable for Saturday’s game, though if he does play he won’t be anywhere near full game conditioning.
The only certainty at this point is that Hayer won’t be playing. Hayer, who suffered his concussion the last time the Tips were in Spokane on Dec. 11, continues to sit out practice, and his progress remains slow.
Everett would need both Winquist and Pufahl to play Saturday to field a full lineup, and it’s been a while since the Tips could say that. It’s also possible Everett will have to attempt to end its 16-game losing streak in Spokane two or more players short, and without any overagers in the lineup.
Fortunately for Everett, reinforcements are on the way. Saturday’s game should be the last where the Tips have players away at international tournaments. Defensemen Kevin Davis and Noah Juulsen will definitely be back from the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in time for Wednesday’s home game against Portland. Meanwhile, defenseman Mirco Mueller was originally scheduled to return Wednesday morning from the World Junior Hockey Championships. But Switzerland’s early exit means the Tips are trying to arrange for Mueller to fly back earlier and thus be better ready for Wednesday.
Speaking of Davis and Juulsen, their Team Pacific has reached the semifinals of the U-17s, where they play Russia today. That game is just about to start, and can actually be watched live at Hockey Canada’s website.