Injuries to Roest, Hemmerling hurt Silvertips over weekend

Everett only came away from the week with two points, but coach Dennis Williams was proud of the way his depleted team performed.

Austin Roest

Austin Roest

What was already the Everett Silvertips’ most difficult week of the season suddenly became more so.

Facing a stretch of four games in five days, with the first three of those against the top two teams in the WHL’s Western Conference, Everett’s task became all the more challenging when it lost two of its top three scorers for the entirety of the just-completed three-in-three weekend.

So even though the Tips only came away from the week with two points, Everett coach Dennis Williams came away proud of the way his severely-depleted team performed.

Missing high-scoring forwards Austin Roest and Ben Hemmerling because of injury, and playing two skaters short of a full lineup because of what’s been a season-long rash of injuries, the Tips managed to hold their own on the road against conference heavyweights Kamloops and Seattle on Friday and Saturday, then finished off the weekend with a shootout victory at home against Spokane.

Both Roest, who leads the team in scoring with 78 points, and Hemmerling, who’s third with 62 points, went down with upper-body injuries early in Wednesday’s 7-1 home loss against Kamloops. Williams said both players are still undergoing assessment and it is unknown how long they’ll be out.

With both unavailable for the weekend’s three games, it left Everett with just one established scorer (Jackson Berezowski) against arguably the league’s two top teams. Yet the Tips entered the third period of both games tied before running out of gas at the end, falling 6-3 to Kamloops and 5-1 to Seattle.

Everett then bounced back Sunday and led Spokane 4-2 with less than a minute to play when the Chiefs stunned the Tips with two goals with the goaltender pulled to send it to overtime. But Everett held on in overtime and secured the two points in the shootout.

“It was extremely difficult for our players,” Williams said via text. “They did an unbelievable job in all three games. Being tied with Kamloops halfway through the third period and tied after two with Seattle speaks volumes of our players’ compete and character. I’m very proud of our effort, and to cap off the weekend with a win was a big reward for a hard-fought weekend for our team.”

While the Tips put in a valiant effort, they still dropped into sixth place in the Western Conference at 31-29-2-1. The dreams of home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs are slipping away as red-hot Prince George is now seven points ahead of Everett in the race for fourth place with the Tips having just five games remaining. However, Everett still has a shot at fifth, as the Tips trail Tri-City by a single point, with both teams having played an equal number of games.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Raphael Pelletier. The overage forward, who was acquired from Swift Current at the trade deadline, tallied three assists in Sunday’s victory over Spokane. He finished the week with four assists over Everett’s four games.

Second star: Jesse Heslop. The 16-year-old forward was the player who put Everett in position to win Sunday against Spokane, scoring twice in the first eight minutes and assisting on the third as the Tips built a three-goal first-period lead.

First star: Jackson Berezowski. Once again it was a captain’s performance by the overage forward. With the Tips needing all they could get from their only established scorer, Berezowski scored two goals Friday at Kamloops, scored Everett’s only goal Saturday at Seattle, then scored the only goal in the shootout Sunday against Spokane. Overall he had three goals and two assists during the week.

The week ahead

In the penultimate week of the season, Everett plays its third straight three-in-three weekend.

The weekend begins with a home-and-home set against the Vancouver Giants, with Friday’s game at home and Saturday’s in Langley, B.C. Vancouver (25-29-5-3) is in seventh place in the Western Conference and trying to hold off eighth-place Kelowna. The Giants are led by overage forward Ty Thorpe (34 goals, 31 assists) and 18-year-old forward Samuel Honzek (21 goals, 31 assists).

The weekend concludes with the final matchup of the season against Spokane. The Chiefs (14-39-4-5) have climbed out of the Western Conference’s basement and pulled into a tie with Victoria in ninth, though neither will make the playoffs. Spokane’s top player, 19-year-old forward Chase Bertholet (26 goals, 37 assists), was involved in all four of the Chiefs’ goals in Sunday’s game in Everett.

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