Silvertips’ Kaden Hammell (47) enters the rink during a game against the Tri-City Americans at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Sunday in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Silvertips’ Kaden Hammell (47) enters the rink during a game against the Tri-City Americans at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Sunday in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Patterson: Overachieving Silvertips had season worth celebrating

In a season when some thought the team’s playoff streak could end, Everett put together one of its greatest campaigns.

EVERETT — Want to know how little the result of Sunday’s regular season finale meant to the Everett Silvertips? When the Tips, leading the Tri-City Americans 1-0 in the first period, went on the penalty kill for the first time, Everett sent out a defensive pairing of Dexter Whittle, who was making his first appearance in six months after suffering what was feared to be a career-ending neck injury, and Brek Liske, a player who isn’t even eligible to play full-time in the WHL until next season.

But even if winning wasn’t the priority, it didn’t spoil either the celebratory atmosphere coursing through the 7,993 fans at Angel of the Winds Arena, nor did it affect the Tips’ effort as they made sure they continued their roll into the postseason.

The real work begins Friday, but this was a moment for soaking it in.

Everett concluded the regular season Sunday evening with a 4-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. Next up for the Tips is a first-round WHL playoff date with the Vancouver Giants beginning Friday at Angel of the Winds.

But Sunday was about celebrating a team that overachieved like honors students hoovering up every iota of extra credit in an effort to pump up college applications.

Everett finished the regular season 44-18-2-3 to earn the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed to the playoffs. The Tips haven’t lost a game in regulation in more than a month, going 10-0-1-1 in their final 12 games.

This was the team that before the season began some predicted might be the first to miss the postseason in the franchise’s 21-year history?

“I think it was a real good regular season,” Everett co-captain Ben Hemmerling said. “We battled through some adversity early on with some injuries and things like that. But we persevered through that and it’s ended up being a really good year so far.”

To get a grasp on what Everett accomplished during the regular season, the Tips finished with a .698 winning percentage. Everett has won nine U.S. Division titles during its 21-season history, and the .698 is better than five of those division champions. It’s better than the .688 of 2017-18, when the Tips not only won the division, but finished with the best record in the conference and advanced to the WHL championship series.

Everett also shattered the franchise record for goals. With four more Sunday the Tips finished the season with 295 in their 68 games. That broke the record of 280 set in 2021-22. Everett had four players register 30 or more goals, six with 20-plus and 11 who hit double digits. All of those either set or matched franchise bests.

Silvertips’ Andrew Petruk (26) moves with the puck during a game between against the Tri-City Americans at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Sunday in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Silvertips’ Andrew Petruk (26) moves with the puck during a game between against the Tri-City Americans at the Angel of the Winds Arena on Sunday in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

And Everett did this with a roster that no one outside the Tips’ locker room thought would be any kind of factor this season. NHL-caliber talent? Everett has just three NHL draft picks on its roster, none of whom was selected earlier than the fifth round. Big trade acquisitions? The Tips did add forwards Teague Patton and Caden Brown and goaltender Ethan Chadwick during the offseason, then picked up defenseman Parker Berge before the January trade deadline, but none of those cost more than a second-round prospects draft pick. Can’t-miss prospects? Everett had plenty of rookies step up big time — forwards Julius Miettinen and Carter Bear and defenseman Tarin Smith come to mind — but none of those were sure things to hit off the hop.

But the Tips believed.

“I think all of us in that locker room believed we’d be successful, have a successful regular season, and it showed,” Everett’s other co-captain Austin Roest said. “We know we have a good group in there and we’re really excited to get things going in the playoffs.”

Indeed, Everett is here without having to break the bank. The Tips accumulated a lot of assets from Kamloops last season in the trade that sent stars Olen Zellweger and Ryan Hofer to the Blazers, picking up nine prospects draft picks, including four first-rounders. Williams built this team without having to surrender any of those first-rounders.

The most important of those Kamloops first-rounders is this year’s. Kamloops finished with the league’s worst record, meaning Everett now has a 12-in-21 chance of getting the first-overall selection in this year’s draft and the opportunity to pick defenseman Landon DuPont. Dupont is a shoo-in to receive exceptional status should he apply, which would make him eligible to play in the WHL as a 15-year-old — he would be just the second player ever granted exceptional status by the league. Imagine the possibility of the defensive version of Connor Bedard plying his trade in Everett.

Of course, the real season begins now. No one is going to pick Everett to win the WHL championship. Heck, my guess is Vancouver will be a trendy selection as a first-round upset special. Everett, which has effectively been locked into the conference’s No. 3 seed for a month, was essentially playing Wheel of Fortune to find out its first-round opponent, as seeds 4-8 were so close that it was a matter of spinning the wheel and seeing where it landed. When the wheel came to a stop with the pointer on the Giants’ logo, that was the worst possible result for the Tips.

But that’s a story for later in the week. Sunday was about appreciating what Everett accomplished during the regular season, and what the Tips did was worthy of celebrating.

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

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