When the 2021-22 WHL season began the Everett Silvertips found themselves in an unusual position. A franchise that’s had almost unprecedented success and stability with its goaltending during its 19-season history entered the campaign with uncertainty around how things would play out in net.
Now, with just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the question about who carries the mail in goal for Everett in the postseason remains unanswered.
Everett’s balance of power between Braden Holt and Koen MacInnes in net took yet another swivel during a weekend in which the Tips lost 5-4 in overtime to Portland at home on Friday, then bounced back with a 2-1 victory at Tri-City on Saturday.
MacInnes, acquired in the offseason from Saskatoon, seemed to be gaining the upper hand, highlighted by 37 saves on 37 shots in relief during a 7-3 home victory over Portland on March 26. Meanwhile Holt, who appeared to gain control of the No. 1 position in January, had struggled since missing most of February because of illness.
But Holt turned in a sterling performance in the victory over Tri-City, stopping 25 of the 26 shots he faced, including a save that the league deemed the Save of the Night.
🎥SAVE OF THE NIGHT🎥
— The WHL (@TheWHL) April 3, 2022
“I think any time a goalie gets a win he can build off it,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “As I said to our goalies, it’s all about creating consistency in your game, and right now we have two guys competing to be in that net. We’re going to have to make some decisions down the stretch in how we want to handle all of that.”
Holt and MacInnes have nearly identical numbers. Holt is 23-5-2-2 with a 2.56 goals against average and .911 save percentage, MacInnes is 21-5-1-3 with a 2.53 goals against average and .909 save percentage. So everything remains up for grabs when it comes to the playoffs.
“I haven’t even put thought into the postseason yet,” Williams said. “We have a lot of games left here, so we’ll keep juggling a little to see who wants to pull ahead. That’s a position where you need to be feeling good and confident to peak at the right time. It’s an important position, but both guys have been battling and pushing each other throughout, and at the end of the day they’ve both played very well this year.”
The weekend’s results leave Everett largely in the same position in the standings. The Tips are in first place in both the U.S. Division and Western Conference, leading Portland by six points in the division and Kamloops by three points in the conference. Everett has five games remaining, which is one more than both the Winterhawks and Blazers.
Three stars of the week
Third star: Aidan Sutter. The 19-year-old defenseman scored what appeared to be the clinching goal against Portland, giving Everett a 4-2 lead with less than four minutes remaining before the Winterhawks spoiled it with a late comeback. Sutter has absorbed big minutes with Ronan Seeley and Dylan Anderson out injured.
Second star: Jackson Berezowski. The winger in his 19-year-old season scored goals in both games. He now has 45 this season and has a real chance of breaking the franchise record for goals in a season of 47, set by Joshua Winquist in 2013-14.
First star: Holt. The 18-year-old netminder needed a game like Saturday’s, in which he was named the game’s first star, as he had been pulled in three of his five starts since returning from illness.
The week ahead
This is Everett’s last three-game week of the regular season, and the games are well-spaced.
The week begins Wednesday with a game at Spokane. With a victory, the Tips (44-10-4-5) would sweep the 13-game season series against the team Everett is currently matched up against for the first round of the playoffs. However, the Chiefs (22-37-4-1) are playing well, having won three straight.
On Friday the Tips play their final home game of the regular season when they entertain Tri-City (18-41-5-0), which is all but eliminated from playoff contention.
Everett’s week concludes Sunday with a game in Kent against Seattle. The Thunderbirds (40-18-4-2) appear destined to finish third in the U.S. Division, but Seattle is beginning to get healthy after going through a stretch with several key players sidelined because of injury.