The Silvertips’ Tyler Palmer defends the goal during a game against the Blazers on Jan. 13 at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

The Silvertips’ Tyler Palmer defends the goal during a game against the Blazers on Jan. 13 at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Silvertips have best week of second half, snag 5 key points

Everett wins twice and loses one game in overtime over a challenging weekend three-in-three against division leaders.

The Everett Silvertips were facing their most daunting weekend since the trade deadline, a three-in-three weekend in which the Tips were heavy underdogs in all three. It was a scenario in which any points earned would have been welcome.

But getting five of a possible six? Including a thrilling shutout against the the I-5 rival before a sellout home crowd? It’s doesn’t get much better than that.

Everett had its best week of the second half of the season as, in the span of 48 hours, the Tips took five points off division leaders. First, Everett took Western Conference-leading Seattle to overtime on Friday before falling 6-5 in Kent. Then the Tips won the rematch 1-0 at home the following night, before polishing off the weekend with a 4-2 home victory over Central Division-leading Red Deer.

“I think our guys did a really good job,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “It was a resilient effort in those games, being down in games one and three and fighting our way back into it. We showed grit and hardness and a commitment to playing without the puck. Then on Sunday when we went down 2-1 it easily could have been a situation where we didn’t have enough left in the tank to muster up. But the guys stuck to it, and I thought Sunday was a really good game for us. I’m really proud of the effort. I’ll take a five-out-of-six weekend like that, there’s a lot of positives to build off of.”

There was a little bit of everything over the weekend, from captain Jackson Berezowski breaking the franchise’s career goal-scoring record Friday (Patrick Bajkov was the former record holder with 112), to goaltender Tyler Palmer providing repeated heroics in the victories Saturday and Sunday.

But one lineup tweak Williams made also had an effect. Williams moved winger Ben Hemmerling onto a line with Berezowski and Austin Roest, loading up one line with Everett’s three best offensive players. The adjustment paid off.

“Obviously that’s top-line heavy for us,” Williams said. “They generate some great offense together. When we’re at home we’re able to match them to put them out there for offensive-zone faceoffs, against the other teams fourth line, it just allows us to play a little more in the offensive zone and create more scoring opportunities, which are hard to come by anyways. And our other lines played well, too. I liked the way our lines matched up against both teams.”

The unexpectedly-fruitful weekend meant Everett gained some ground on Tri-City in the race for fourth place in the Western Conference and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Tips (25-22-2-0) are now just three points behind the Americans, and Tri-City only has one game in hand. Prince George is six points behind Everett, having played three fewer.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Beau Courtney. The center in his 18-year-old season had two goals and an assist across the three games. Both his goals were timely as his first was the game-tying goal Friday against Seattle that ensured the Tips a point, and his second was the only goal in Saturday’s rematch with the T-birds.

Second star: Austin Roest. Also a center in his 18-year-old season, Roest piled up two goals and three assists over the weekend. He poured a career-high nine shots on goal during Sunday’s victory over Red Deer.

First star: Palmer. What a workhorse Palmer’s proven to be. For the second straight week he started all three games of a three-in-three, and his .914 save percentage was the biggest factor in Everett coming away with five points. His shutout of Seattle on Saturday, in an electric sold-out atmosphere at Angel of the Winds Arena, was his first as a Tip.

The week ahead

After back-to-back three-in-three weekends, the Tips have a slower week consisting solely of a home-and-home with Spokane. Friday’s game is in Spokane, while Saturday’s is in Everett.

Spokane is enduring a rough season. The Chiefs (9-34-2-3) are in last place in the Western Conference by 10 points, have the second-worst record in the WHL, have lost seven straight and have allowed the league’s most goals. Everett won each of the previous four meetings between the teams, prevailing by at least three goals on each occasion.

Spokane’s most dangerous player is 19-year-old forward Chase Bertholet (22 goals, 28 assists), while 16-year-old forward Berkly Catton (14 goals, 20 assists) is having a productive rookie season after being selected first overall in the 2021 prospects draft.

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