Silvertips face a team in transition

EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips are catching the Prince George Cougars amidst turmoil.

Whether that’s a good or bad thing is subject to debate.

Everett’s weekend double-dip in Prince George will be the Cougars’ first games under new guidance. Head coach Drew Schoneck was fired Monday, with assistant Wade Klippenstein taking over. Klippenstein’s first games as the head coach are Friday and Saturday, when the Tips roll into town.

So how does this affect Everett?

“It’s kind of a crapshoot when you’re trying to prepare for them,” Everett coach John Becanic said. “You don’t know if they’re going to use the same gameplan or how much they can change in three days. We’ll just try and play our game as best as we can and play with energy.”

As for the Cougars, one view is that a team doesn’t fire a coach when it’s playing well, and that’s certainly the case for Prince George. The Cougars are 10-18-0-1, which is the second-worst record in the Western Conference, and after opening the season 6-1 they’ve won just four of their past 22. Last weekend Prince George was hammered twice at home, losing 7-1 to Regina and 7-3 to Saskatoon.

On the other hand, a change in coaches often has the short-term effect of energizing a team as players increase their efforts in an attempt to impress the new head man. This happened with Portland, which won five of seven upon replacing Rich Kromm with Mike Johnston, but have lost seven straight since.

Becanic’s was clear on where he stood on the debate.

“You always hate to be the team playing a team just after they fired their coach,” Becanic said. “Usually teams play pretty motivated and energized, you see it at every level and in every sport. But by the same token we have to put them back on their heels. Whether there’s changes in their systems or whatever, you want to make sure they’re not in a comfortable environment.”

Slap shots: As is often the case, the Tips once again got an early jump on their annual trip to Prince George, departing first thing this morning for the games Friday and Saturday. The early start gives the team the chance to settle in and adjust to the higher altitude. … Everett’s most recent acquisition, defenseman Trevor Bauer, looks unlikely to make his debut this weekend. Bauer, who arrived nursing a shoulder injury, is still being held out of practice.

Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog

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