You never want to say “never,” but it seems unlikely the Western Hockey League will soon see another season like the one Carter Hart is putting together.
His 5-0 shutout victory Saturday over the Vancouver Giants was the 26th of his career and moved Hart into a first-place tie with former Giants netminder Tyson Sexsmith for the WHL record.
The win was also Hart’s 107th career victory to tie Leland Irving’s franchise record.
Hart’s current statistics are staggering:
Carter Hart's current numbers:
22-4-1-2, 1.53 GAA, .952
Tri-City's Patrick Dea has a save percentage of .914. That's the highest of any goalie who has played enough minutes to qualify among the league leaders.
— Jesse Geleynse (@JesseGeleynse) February 11, 2018
Hart took a 1-0 lead into the final two minutes of Friday’s game against Spokane, only to lose the shutout bid after the Chiefs pulled their goalie for a sixth attacker. Everett then lost a heartbreaker in overtime.
That merely lit the fire in Everett’s belly Saturday.
“We really bounced back tonight and were really hungry all night,” Hart said. “We weren’t really flashy tonight. We were just getting in the hard areas and just chipping the puck in deep and just going to work.”
— The WHL (@TheWHL) February 11, 2018
Particularly poignant was the fact Everett goalie coach Shane Clifford was in town to witness the event. Clifford is based in Pittsburgh and drops in about once a month.
“Cliffy has been since Day One since I’ve been here,” Hart said. “He’s been a huge part of my game, and developing my game, and I can’t thank him enough. I’m just glad he was here to share this moment with me.”
— Silvertips Color Guy (@TipsATG) February 11, 2018
It can be difficult to put Hart’s season statistics into proper perspective, though I tried back in early December. It’s important to recognize that was a very different era of WHL hockey in which fewer goals were scored.
A few other things happened Saturday night as Ian Walker scored his first WHL goal following a net-front scrum:
— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) February 11, 2018
In fact, Everett twice scored in net-front scrums during the final period, and that makes head coach Dennis Williams very happy.
“Those are as good as the ESPN Top Plays of the Week,” Williams said. “Guys just hanging around the crease there and pushing pucks and getting crosschecked and getting (pucks) across the line. I did like that better tonight. We put more pucks on net tonight than we did (Friday) night and we did a better job of hanging around the paint tonight.”
Patrick Bajkov remains in search of his franchise record-tying 107th goal, but added two assists Saturday to increase his franchise-record point total to 271.
Ethan O’Rourke, acquired in a New Year’s Day trade with Prince George, scored his first goal as a Silvertip and also added an assist for third-star honors.
Once again it’s a short turnaround. The Tips left for Spokane immediately after Saturday’s game and take on the Chiefs today at 5:05 p.m. at Spokane Arena.
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.