The Everett Silvertips celebrate a goal by Riley Sutter, center, during Game 3 of the 2018 WHL finals at Angel of the Winds Arena. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The Everett Silvertips celebrate a goal by Riley Sutter, center, during Game 3 of the 2018 WHL finals at Angel of the Winds Arena. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

POLL RESULTS: Silverips’ 2017-18 team reigns supreme

Voters overwhelmingly picked Everett’s 2017-18 team over 2003-04 in a matchup of Tips WHL finalists.

Everett Silvertips fans have spoken, and they believe the 2017-18 team would knock off the 2003-04 team.

In a normal world, the WHL championship series would have begun Friday. Given Everett had the second-best record in the WHL when the season was shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak, only one point behind the Portland Winterhawks, the Tips could easily have been one of the teams playing for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Unfortunately, no one is contesting the WHL title this year.

But we decided to give Tips fans a WHL championship series of their own. Everett reached the finals twice in its 17-year history, those coming in the Tips’ expansion season in 2003-04, then again in 2017-18. Therefore, in honor of what should have been the start of the WHL finals, this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers which of the Tips’ finals teams they thought would win a seven-game series between the two squads.

After tallying the votes cast between the polls posted on Twitter and the blog, it was the 2017-18 team in a landslide. More than three-quarters of the voters (75.5%) picked the 2017-18 squad, while just 24.5% went with the 2003-04 team.

It’s difficult to argue with these results. From an empirical standpoint, the 2017-18 team was vastly superior. That team finished with a far better winning percentage (.688) than the 2003-04 team (.556) and also fared better in the finals (losing in six games to Swift Current, while 2003-04 was swept by Medicine Hat).

The 2017-18 team also had much more talent. The 2003-04 team had four players who reached the NHL — Michael Wall, Ivan Baranka, Riley Armstrong and Shaun Heshka — but none of them played in more than eight NHL games. The 2017-18 team has only one player who’s reached the NHL so far, but Carter Hart has already had a more significant NHL career than all the 2003-04 players combined, and there are several others from that team who could still reach the NHL. Indeed, while Baranka was the only member of the 2003-04 team who was an NHL draft pick, the 2017-18 team had seven players who either were or went on to become NHL draft selections — Hart, Garrett Pilon, Connor Dewar, Riley Sutter, Wyatte Wylie, Gianni Fairbrother, Dustin Wolf — as well as a slew of others who earned pro contracts.

But you know what? There was more at work in 2003-04 than just talent. I was there during the Western Conference championship series against the Kelowna Rockets, who had the league’s best team and went on to win the Memorial Cup as hosts. Everett was down 3-1 in that series and clearly overmatched, but then the Tips won three consecutive overtime games, with a fluky goal deciding all three. There was something supernatural going on.

So while the readers gave the clear advantage to the 2017-18 team, it might not have been as cut and dried as that.

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