By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
The Everett Silvertips play the first game of their longest road trip of the season tonight.
And they are hoping they can discover their game on the road.
The Tips are off to an inauspicious start to the 2012-13 Western Hockey League season, but they’re hoping the long trek out east is just the tonic they need to jump start their season.
“We’ve been off to a slow start, so I think it will be good for us to hit the road and face some adversity out there,” Everett captain Ryan Murray said. “We’re bound to have some tough games out east, so we’ll be prepared for that.”
Everett faces the Brandon Wheat Kings tonight in the first game of its six-games-in-nine-days swing through the East Division, and the Tips are looking to turn the tide. Everett opened the season 1-5-0-1, and the Tips’ three points are the fewest in the Western Conference and second-fewest in the entire league.
Everett has had all kinds of difficulty at home. The Tips are winless in four attempts so far this season at Comcast Arena, earning a single point from a shootout loss to Prince George.
So perhaps an extended stretch on the road will help the Tips focus on playing the way coach Mark Ferner wants.
“You just have to stick to the game plan and do what coach wants us to do,” defenseman Nick Walters said. “There’s really nothing else to it.”
That game plan includes playing a full 60 minutes of hockey. So far this season Everett has rarely been able to sustain a full effort through an entire game, something that’s frustrated Ferner to no end.
“We need to get our game in order,” Ferner said. “At times we play well. I truly believe that. It’s just the consistency. It’s something we’ve talked about, getting them to play a certain way for 60 minutes. Whenever something bad happens to us, it seems to go in the other direction, and we can’t be like that. We need to change momentum, pay attention to details, and just go out and compete instead of trying to do a little extra on the other side of the puck.”
Playing a full 60 minutes is something Ferner has already hammered upon repeatedly this season, and the players are well aware that’s what their coach wants.
“We just have to start playing 60 minutes,” Murray said. “We have to start making sure we don’t have any mental breakdowns in our game. We’ve seen the way we can play, so we have to play like that all the time now, we can’t just falter and accept a certain level of play. We have to play at our best every single game.”
Added Walters: “Obviously 60 minutes is the key. I think that’s cost us the last couple games. You have to play a full 60-minute game and stick to the systems coach Ferner has for us.”
Sustaining effort will be all the more important during the road trip, considering the teams Everett is facing are a mystery. The Tips play each team in the East Division just once each season, so it’s not like they have a lot of knowledge about their adversaries’ tendencies.
“We can’t worry about what they’re going to do, we have to worry about what we’re going to do,” Murray said. “We want to control the pace of the game and not worry about them.”
And just maybe the road will help the Tips get things straightened out.
“The road shouldn’t make you do those things, you should be doing it every time you play the game,” Ferner said. “I think it’s more the mindset of getting away, being together and actually spending a lot of time with each other.
“I think it will be a positive thing.”
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.