Think back to last week when the Everett Silvertips played four games in five days.
Things don’t get much easier for the Silvertips this week despite the holiday on Thursday. They play three games in four nights beginning tonight when they take on the Tri-City Americans at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
After celebrating Thanksgiving with their billet families Thursday, it’s right back to Xfinity Arena as the Tips play host to Spokane at 7:35 p.m. Friday and Vancouver at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
All told it will be seven games in 11 days for the Tips (10-12-1-1, 22 points) who are looking to snap a two-game losing streak after winning six of eight prior to Saturday’s loss at Seattle.
Maintaining energy in such grueling stretches requires finding ways to adjust on the ice, forward Matt Fonteyne said.
“You just need to manage your shifts and you can’t get trapped on the forecheck,” the overage co-captain said. “It’s managing your energy and seeing where you’re at during the game, and then not going out of your way to do too much.”
The one benefit is that tonight’s game at Tri-City (13-6-2-0, 28 points) is one of just two road games in the current seven-game stretch.
Everett has continued to struggle to find the back of the net. The Tips have scored just three even-strength goals and just six overall in the past four games. They managed to go 2-2 by allowing just six goals in those four games as they received outstanding goaltending from reigning WHL Goaltender of the Week Carter Hart and rookie backup Dustin Wolf.
Fonteyne and Everett head coach Dennis Williams continue to stress the importance of getting traffic in front of the net.
“I think (opposing goalies) are seeing a good majority of the pucks,” Fonteyne said. “And then just being hard in front of the net and getting the rebounds. We know the goals aren’t going to be pretty. Whenever you’re kind of in a slump you just need to keep getting at it. The bounces are going to go your way eventually.”
Everett has the Western Hockey League’s best penalty kill — and the second-worst power play. Since Wolf debuted in a 3-1 win at Kamloops on Oct. 27 the Tips have killed 29 of 30 penalties, including the past 20. But they’re just 4-for-48 on the power play in that same span and just 2-for-45 after converting their first two attempts against the Blazers.
Williams noted after Sunday’s game that most of the top penalty killers are also the top power-play members, and indicated the coaching staff might look at involving different players on the penalty kill to give the power-play members a bit of a break.
“When your power-play guys (also) penalty kill, and now have to come out on the power play, we have to start to work on balancing out some other guys on that kill,” he said, “because it might be affecting a little bit of our power play there as well with the overplaying of some guys there and not being able to execute when it’s time to go up 5-on-4.”
The coaching staff hasn’t had many options. Everett dressed just 17 skaters Sunday after losing forwards Luke Ormsby (suspension) and Connor Dewar (upper body) in Saturday’s loss to Seattle. That was compounded Sunday when forward Sean Richards received a game misconduct in the first period Sunday. He will miss Wednesday’s game.
Ormsby drew a only one-game suspension and will be back at Tri-City.
Speaking of the Americans: They are currently 13-6-2 (28 points) and holding down second place in the U.S. Division behind Portland. Tri-City is coming off a 7-3 home loss to Victoria on Saturday.
Jordan Topping (11 goals, 12 assists) and Morgan Geekie (nine goals, 14 assists) lead the Americans’ offense, and 2017 NHL first-rounder Michael Rasmussen has nine goals and 10 assists in 16 games after an extended stay at the Detroit Red Wings training camp. Fellow 2017 first-rounder and defenseman Juuso Valimaki has five goals and 12 assists in 17 games, and blueliner Dylan Coghlan has six goals and 14 assists.
Beck Warm (7-2, .913, 2.90 GAA) has appeared in 11 games in goal and Patrick Dea (6-4-2, .904, 3.62 GAA) has played in a dozen.
Notes: The Silvertips announced Tuesday afternoon that they had acquired left winger Akash Bains from the Red Deer Rebels for a sixth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. The 18-year-old native of Delta, B.C., had eight goals and 13 assists in 65 games with the Rebels last season, and four assists in 18 games this season.
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