EVERETT — If Matt Fonteyne has a certificate or two coming from the Western Hockey League, they have yet to arrive.
That’s fine with Everett’s overage forward, who was named the WHL Player of the Week two weeks ago and last week was named the Player of the Month for January.
“Looking at the players who have gotten it this year and past years, it’s an honor just to be named Player of the Month,” Fonteyne said. “But you kind of have to put it in the past. Obviously it’s a nice pat on the back, but you just have to move forward.”
Fonteyne recently became the first Silvertips player since Kohl Bamul in 2015 to reach the 30-goal plateau. He finished with 12 goals and 13 assists in 13 games in January as the Tips went 9-3-0-1.
“You’re only as good as your last game and the team has been playing really well lately so we just have to keep working on that,” Fonteyne said.
Everett is 11-1-0-1 in its past 13 contests and 13-4-0-1 since the holiday break. The performance of players like Fonteyne are a big reason why. But another reason is the continued stellar play of goaltender Carter Hart, who last week was named WHL Goaltender of the Month for the third straight month.
Hart finished 6-1-0-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage and a shutout in January. The latter two numbers are actually down from his overall season GAA of 1.57 and .951 save percentage.
The U. S. Division-leading Tips (34-17-1-2, 71 points) are coming off a home-and-home sweep of B.C. Division-leading Kelowna (32-16-3-1, 68 points). This weekend brings another stiff challenge with a pair of games against pesky Spokane with a home game against upstart Vancouver in-between.
“Everyone is playing with confidence,” Fonteyne said. “We feel good with how we’re playing lately. Obviously there’s still stuff we need to work on and you can’t take a game off when you’re playing divisional games or any games moving forward. Every team’s kind of loaded up and they’re going for it this year, so it makes it really exciting and we’re really looking forward to what’s going to happen later on.”
Pilon piling up points
Everett’s January acquisition of forward Garrett Pilon from Kamloops has helped provide the Tips with a key offensive force they were looking for.
“He definitely complements (Connor) Dewar and Suttsy (Riley Sutter) there on that line,” head coach Dennis Williams said. “When you make those type of trades at the deadline for a guy of his caliber, he’s doing everything wanted from him. But I’m even more impressed with what he does away from the puck and his responsibilities in the D-zone. He tracks pucks hard and when you’re a 200-foot player you have a really good chance to be an effective player in this league and at the next level.”
Pilon is coming off a career-high four-point game when he scored twice and added two assists in Everett’s 8-2 shellacking of Kelowna on Saturday at home.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Washington Capitals prospect has seven goals and 10 assists in 13 games with Everett. He has 25 goals and 36 assists in 51 games between the Tips and Blazers.
Tips stay unbeaten against Kelowna
Everett hasn’t lost to the Rockets in regulation since the 2014-15 season.
The Rockets won the WHL championship and reached the Memorial Cup final in 2015.
Last weekend’s home-and-home sweep gave Everett a record of 8-0-2-1 against Kelowna since 2015 with one more home game remaining this season on March 2.
With the way the WHL playoffs are structured — essentially divided between U.S. and B.C. Division — it doesn’t appear likely the teams would see each other before the Western Conference finals.
The Rockets have reached the conference finals four straight years. Everett is looking for its first trip to the finals since its third season in 2006.
Forward Bronson Sharp, who hasn’t played since Jan. 20 with a hand injury, was a full participant at Tuesday’s practice. The WHL weekly injury report lists him as being out seven-to-10 days. … Defenseman Gianni Fairbrother, who hasn’t played since Dec. 6 with an upper-body injury, is still not skating and remains out two-to-three weeks.
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