The Everett Silvertips continue to get used to spending time on the bus.
They returned home from Kelowna mid-afternoon on Thursday, got one night to sleep in their own beds, then hit the road again Friday morning for Victoria, where the Tips will take on the Royals at 7:05 Saturday.
It’s part of a stretch in which the Tips play six of seven on the road. After Saturday’s game, however, comes a bit of a reprieve as Everett plays its next four games inside the confines of Xfinity Arena.
Everett (8-2-2-0, 18 points) has maintained its lead atop the U.S. Division over Portland (8-4-0-0, 16 points) despite dropping two straight games – including a 4-3 overtime decision at Kelowna Wednesday and a 3-2 loss at Spokane on Tuesday.
Goaltender Carter Hart was pulled the first time this season after allowing two goals on five shots to the Rockets and backup Mario Petit performed well in his stead as he saved 20 of the 22 shots he faced.
One of the challenges the Tips have encountered during this stretch is a rash of injuries. Defenseman Lucas Skrumeda, and forwards Matt Fonteyne and Eetu Tuulola have missed significant time, while forwards Devon Skoleski, Brian King and Orrin Centazzo have joined the ranks of the wounded more recently. That led Everett to call up 16-year-old defenseman Gianni Fairbrother to skate alongside fellow blueliner Mackenzie Dwyer on the fourth line.
Eighteen current Tips have contributed at least one point to the squad this season and that has helped keep Everett competitive in virtually every game. Patrick Bajkov leads in points with five goals and nine assists, while Riley Sutter and Graham Millar each have six goals and nine points.
Victoria (6-5-0-0, 12 points), the reigning Scotty Munro Trophy winners for regular-season WHL champion, are currently a distant second in the B.C. Division behind Prince George (10-2-1-0, 21 points).
Matthew Phillips (six goals, six assists) is the Royals’ top scorer, followed by Tyler Soy (five goals, six assists), Jack Walker (six goals, three assists) and Ryan Peckford (one goal, eight assists).
Griffen Outhouse (6-4-0-0, 2.48 goals against average, .921 save percentage) has been Victoria’s top option in net.
If the Tips do have an advantage it might be that they don’t have a game Friday. Victoria plays host to Swift Current Friday. The Broncos (8-3-0-1, 17 points) are tied for first in the East Division.
Everett returns to action at home Thursday at home against Tri-City at 7:05.
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter @jessegeleynse.