Goaltender Hart surprised to be Silvertips’ MVP

EVERETT — Perhaps no one was more surprised that Carter Hart was named the Everett Silvertips MVP last Friday than Hart himself.

“I didn’t think (I would),” the 17-year-old goaltender said. “Remi Laurencelle was a very deserving candidate and even Noah Juulsen. They were two key guys on the team and without them we wouldn’t be where we are.”

Hart, projected to go in one of the early rounds of this year’s NHL draft, finished with a league-best 35 wins, was second in games played (63), minutes played (3,693), goals-against average (2.14) and shutouts (six), and was sixth in save percentage (.918).

“It just shows how well we played as a team this year,” he said. “I’m not a big stats guy (and) wins is not a goalie stat — wins is a team stat.”

The Sherwood Park, Alberta, native sat out the Tips’ final four games with an undisclosed lower body injury. He said Friday that he will resume skating early this week and plans to play in the upcoming playoff series against the Portland Winterhawks.

Playoff pairings

The Silvertips and Winterhawks will meet in the WHL playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons when the postseason begins Friday at Xfinity Arena. Portland eliminated Everett in the first round in 2013 and the second round last season. The teams split their 10 games against one another this season.

Other Western Conference first round matchups include Seattle-Prince George, Kelowna-Kamloops and Victoria-Spokane. Tri-City missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03, meaning the Silvertips now have the longest active playoff streak in the Western Conference at 13 straight seasons.

In the Eastern Conference Prince Albert will play Moose Jaw, Lethbridge will face Regina and Red Deer will play Calgary.

WHL rules require a one-game playoff when two teams are tied for the final playoff spot, so Medicine Hat will play host to Edmonton in a play-in game Tuesday night for the conference’s final playoff berth. The winner will meet Eastern Conference regular-season champion Brandon in the first round.

Ax falls in Vancouver

The Vancouver Giants fired head coach Lorne Molleken last Friday with two games remaining on the schedule.

It was a difficult year for Molleken and the Giants. Molleken was in his first season behind the Vancouver bench and the team was 23-38-5-4 when he was let go. This marks the third time in four years the Giants have missed the playoffs. Vancouver was also without star and projected first-round NHL draft pick Tyler Benson for long stretches due to a slew of injuries before he was finally shut down for the season in February.

Speculation is that former Portland Winterhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Johnston will take over as head coach and general manager, but nothing has been announced. Johnston was 231-113-10-10 with the Winterhawks while serving in both roles from 2008-14.

Soy, Papirny honored

Victoria’s Tyler Soy was named the WHL Player of the Week and Brandon goalie Jordan Papirny was the league’s nominee for CHL Goaltender of the Week, the league announced Monday.

Soy finished with five goals and four assists as the Royals went 3-0 on the week, including two victories over the Silvertips.

Papirny was 3-0-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA, a .944 save percentage and a shutout for the Wheat Kings.

For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter @jessegeleynse.

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