Silvertips not concerned about weekend losses

Everett coach Dennis Williams says the team played better than its 0-2 record over the weekend would indicate.

Jackson Berezowski

Jackson Berezowski

Dennis Williams has one message following a rough weekend for the Everett Silvertips:

Don’t panic.

Everett had home games against the two teams chasing the Tips in the U.S. Division standings over the weekend, and Everett dropped both of them, losing 4-2 to the Portland Winterhawks on Friday and 4-3 to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday.

As a result, the race for first place in the WHL’s U.S. Division, as well as the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed to the playoffs, has tightened considerably. Everett (36-9-3-1) is now tied for first in the conference with B.C. Division-leading Kamloops, while Portland has moved within three points of the Tips and Seattle is now just seven back.

However, Williams isn’t ringing any alarm bells.

“It wasn’t a bad weekend for our group,” Everett’s coach said. “If you look at the numbers of it, when we did the analytic dive into the games, we counted the grade-A chances against Portland at 10-4 and against Seattle 10-3 (both in favor of Everett). I thought our energy was good, maybe we need a little more consistency from some guys. But those are good hockey clubs.”

The weekend’s defeats came in opposite manners. Everett took a 2-0 lead against the Winterhawks but was unable to hold it, while the Tips fell behind 3-0 to the T-birds before rallying to tie it, only for Seattle to quickly regain the lead.

The losses piled on to Everett’s worst stretch of the season. The Tips not only lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since losing games at Tri-City on Dec. 10-11 (when Everett was playing short-handed because of players being away for the World Junior Hockey Championships), they’ve lost four of their past five and six of their past nine — though four of those losses came in shootouts or overtime.

The good news for Everett is the Tips are still controlling the puck. In those six defeats Everett outshot its opponent in all six. The numbers were particularly striking over the weekend, as the Tips outshot Portland 49-30 and Seattle 40-32.

Therefore, Williams had a quick answer for how much weight he placed in the weekend’s results:

“None,” Williams said. “We’ve played all year just the same. If you start to look at that, all you’re going to do is put unnecessary pressure on yourself. I’d be more concerned if I thought we didn’t show up to play. But there’s parity right now with the top five teams in the conference and you have to give credit where credit is due, they’re good hockey clubs and we were just on the wrong side of it this time.”

One other development for Everett is that goaltender Braden Holt returned after missing almost a month because of non-COVID illness. Holt started against Seattle, but was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Alex Swetlikoff. The overage center had a goal and an assist over the course of the two games. His goal against Portland, which opened the scoring, showed off his speed as he beat his defender out wide.

Second star: Olen Zellweger. The 18-year-old defenseman had a goal and an assist, both in the Seattle game as he played an important role in Everett rallying from its 3-0 deficit to tie it.

First star: Jackson Berezowski. The winger in his 19-year-old season scored goals in both games, and he scored both in his usual fashion by creating chaos in front of the net and then putting in rebounds.

The week ahead

It’s another slow week for Everett as the Tips play just twice — the third time in four weeks that Everett has had a two-game schedule.

The Tips begin the weekend by hosting the much-improved Spokane Chiefs (17-31-4-1) on Friday. Spokane is 5-5-1-0 since firing coach Adam Maglio on Feb. 10 and replacing him with associate coach Ryan Smith on an interim basis for the remainder of the season, and the Chiefs have won four of their past five. As a result Spokane has taken control of the three-way race with Tri-City and Portland for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.

Everett then heads to Kent to face Seattle on Saturday. It’ll be the teams’ third meeting in the span of 15 days, with each team having won once.

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