Silvertips hit a few bumps on long road trip

The Everett Silvertips made two trips into Alberta — one in November and one this month — in order to complete their six-game road series against the Western Hockey League’s Central Division. Everett’s second visit ended Saturday.

The Tips should be glad to be done with the long travel. They lost a 1-0 decision at Edmonton on Friday and followed with a 4-1 loss at Red Deer on Saturday to finish 1-4-1-0 against the Central.

It doesn’t help that three of the top four Eastern Conference teams are in the Central Division. Against those three teams, Everett earned just one of a possible six points — that coming in a shootout loss at Calgary on Nov. 21.

Everett has two road games at Victoria, which necessitate ferry rides, but otherwise the remainder of its road schedule is against U.S. Division opponents.

Tips still in first place

The Silvertips (28-14-2-2, 60 points) remain in first place in the U.S. Division despite dropping their past two games and seeing their streak of 11 straight games without a regulation loss come to an end.

Second-place Seattle (26-17-3-0, 55 points) remains five points back after splitting a home-and-home with third-place Portland (25-21-2-0, 52 points) over the weekend.

Portland still has “another level to hit,” according to head coach Jamie Kompon.

“We’re all disappointed with our record, and I’m taking responsibility for that,” Kompon told Scott Sepich of the Oregonian. “I believe that we have another level to hit, and we show that at times. It’s just about finding consistency in our game.”

The Spokane Chiefs (22-19-3-2, 49 points) occupy the final Western Conference playoff position by a fairly comfortable margin over the Tri-City Americans (20-25-2-0, 42 points).

Johnston returns to Portland

When former Portland Winterhawks head coach/general manger Mike Johnston was fired by the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins in mid-December, the speculation about if or when he would return to the WHL began almost immediately.

His return came last weekend, although it was in a different capacity — as a fan. According to the Oregonian, Johnston watched Portland’s games Friday and Sunday at the Moda Center.

Johnston told the Oregonian that any future job he takes would have to include coaching, as he’s not ready to work solely as a GM.

Johnston’s name had been linked to the open GM position with the Vancouver Giants, but the Giants have struggled with coaching turnover and have a first-year veteran mentor in Lorne Molleken, so that seems to rule out the possibility of Johnston going there.

“Maybe in four or five years I’ll look at those kinds of opportunities,” Johnston told the Oregonian. “But certainly not now, I enjoy coaching and I have a lot of energy to coach. I like working with players and running a team.”

U.S. 0-5 in Teddy Bear games

The annual Teddy Bear Tosses, a league-wide promotion during which teams collect toys for under-privileged kids, were completed Saturday in Kent, where the Portland Winterhawks defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-2.

With that game the U.S. Division home teams completed an 0-5-0-0 showing in Teddy Bear games. Back in December, Tri-City fell to Everett, Spokane lost to Tri-City, Portland fell to Prince George, and Everett lost to Vancouver.

That got this reporter wondering if that trend held true league-wide. A quick look at each team’s Teddy Bear Toss game showed the home teams went 12-9-1-0. If you take out the U.S. Division, it is 12-4-1-0, so clearly losing at home was a trend that primarily affected the U.S. teams.

Hurricanes’ streak continues

Think the Silvertips’ run of 11 consecutive games without a regulation loss was impressive? It was. However, the Lethbridge Hurricanes are on an even more impressive run as they stretched their winning streak to 10 games with Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings.

The Hurricanes (36-12-0-0, 72 points) have the best record in the WHL and have a seven-point lead over second-place Red Deer (31-15-1-2, 65 points) in the Central Division.

Lethbridge appears headed for its first postseason appearance following a six-year absence.

WHL Honors Estephan, Papirny

Giorgio Estephan of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has been named the WHL Player of the Week, and Jordan Papirny of the Brandon Wheat Kings is the nominee for CHL Goaltender of Week, the WHL announced Monday.

Estephan had three goals and five assists in three games as the Hurricanes won all three contests last week to stretch their winning streak to 10 games.

Papirny, meanwhile, had back-to-back shutouts during which he made 55 saves.

For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter @jessegeleynse.

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