Aside from five-plus minutes on Saturday and being pulled for an extra skater on late in the game on Sunday, Everett Silvertips goaltender Dustin Wolf started in between the pipes for every second of the Silvertips’ recent three-in-three stretch over the weekend.
When it comes to managing Wolf’s rest, at least right now, it’s complicated.
Wolf hasn’t seen an exorbitant amount of action over the past couple of weeks entering last weekend. In the 11 days leading up to Friday’s road win over Tri-City, Wolf just played in one game, a 4-3 win over Portland.
Wolf also played in just one game from Dec. 14 to Jan. 11 with Team USA’s World Junior Championship team, entering the second half of the WHL regular season relatively rested.
With Everett trying to catch Portland for first place in the U.S. division and ward off Spokane for second place, points are coveted down the stretch.
“I think he’s one of the best goalies, if not the best, in the league,” Silveritps head coach Dennis Williams said. “If you look at the NHL, they’re not sitting their top goalies too often.”
Second, there’s trust in Wolf to be conditioned for a heavy workload if needed, but it’s something Williams said he monitors closely.
For example, Wolf saw just 18 shots in a 5-0 win against Tri-City on Friday and 24 in a 5-2 win at Seattle on Saturday, leaving him fresh enough to face Spokane on Sunday.
“We communicate and we talk a lot,” Williams said. “The hard part with Wolfie is he’ll tell you he’s ready all the time, so you have to use some of your gut instinct.”
Williams hasn’t been shy about using his goaltenders at high rates during his two-plus years at the helm in Everett.
Silvertips No. 1 goaltender Carter Hart played in 19 of 23 games after returning from playing for Team Canada’s World Junior team in January.
Wolf played in 61 of 68 games and 3616 total minutes, both league highs, last season.
Despite being gone for about a month due to World Juniors, Wolf still ranks ninth in the WHL in games played at 36 and eighth in minutes at 2,113 this season. But Wolf has performed at an elite level regardless with a league-leading 1.96 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
The Silvertips play on three consecutive nights in five of the next six weekends, so Wolf’s usage is something to monitor moving forward.
■ Silvertips center Michal Gut is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and is doubtful for the weekend’s set of home games against Seattle on Friday and Portland on Saturday. The rookie import from the Czech Republic was a last-second scratch before Saturday’s tilt with Seattle.
■ Silvertips forward Hunter Campbell will miss at least three weeks with an upper-body injury sustained in a fight with Seattle’s Cade McNelly on Saturday, according to Davidson.
Two APs called up
With two forwards likely out of the lineup due to injury, Justyn Gurney serving the last game of his two-game suspension on Friday and Dawson Butt serving the final two games of his 12-game suspension this weekend, the Silvertips have called up two affiliate players in 15-year-old Brendan Hunchak and 20-year-old Hunor Torzsok.
Hunchak, a Kamloops, British Columbia native that the Silvertips signed to a WHL contract last week, has six goals and 19 points in 34 games for the Thompson Blazers of the British Columbia Major Midget League.
Torzsok, who was born in Budapest, Hungary but grew up in Cloverdale, British Columbia, has 16 goals and three assists for the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). He’s played 37 career WHL games, all with the Vancouver Giants.
Christiansen earns CHL honor
After scoring five goals and notching three assists over the three-game weekend, Silveritps import defenseman Jake Christiansen earned Canadian Hockey League “Team of the Week” honors. Christiansen’s 17 goals in 25 games played is tied with Lethbridge’s Alex Cotton for the league lead.
Former Silvertips defenseman Sahvan Khaira is playing for the University of Calgary in USports after a five-year WHL career. The 6-foot-4 defenseman boasts one goal and four points in 16 games for the Dinos, who are third in Canada West with 39 points, despite having to forfeit eight points due to using an ineligible player.
After playing his bantam season in the Jr. San Jose Sharks program, Matthew Ng, the Silvertips’ fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam class, has moved to the Culver Military U-16 team in Culver, Indiana. Ng, a 5-foot-3 forward, is third on his team in points with 26 and fourth with 10 goals in 25 games.