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Silvertips on record-setting scoring pace

Everett, traditionally known for its defense, is on track to set a franchise mark and contend for 300 total goals.

This season’s Everett Silvertips are making a case for being the best offensive team in franchise history.

The Tips spent last week filling the net yet again, scoring 12 goals in their two games over the weekend — Everett won 6-2 at Wenatchee on Friday and prevailed 7-6 in a shootout at home against Spokane on Saturday. And with the goals piling up, particularly during the second half of the season, the Tips are posting offensive numbers that haven’t been seen before during the organization’s 21-year history.

Goal scoring was a big question mark for Everett heading into the season. However, the Tips not only answered that question, they’re piling on extra credit, too. Last week’s 12 goals gave Everett 234 in 55 games this season, which is 4.25 per game. That ranks third in the WHL behind U.S. Division-leading Portland (4.74) and Central Division-leading Medicine Hat (4.33). Those are heady heights for an organization that’s built its reputation on preventing goals rather than scoring them.

And Everett has only gotten better at scoring goals as the season’s progressed. The Tips scored a respectable 3.72 goals per game during the first half of the season. But in the 19 games since the holiday break Everett is averaging 5.26 per contest. The Tips’ record has seen a corresponding bump, as Everett had a .611 winning percentage (21-13-0-2) before Christmas and has a .763 winning percentage (14-4-1-0) since.

“I think a lot of it is due to our players being healthy,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said via text message. “For the first half of the year we were missing anywhere from a few players to up to five or six nightly. Having healthy players allows you to manage ice time and not overplay players. I have liked our depth and we have been getting balanced scoring from all our lines and D pairings.”

Everett’s scoring spree also has the Tips on pace to break the franchise record for goals in a season. The current record in 280, which was set in 2021-22. If Everett were to finish the season at 4.25 goals per game it would end with 289. If the Tips were to maintain their second-half scoring rate through their final 13 games, they’d break the 300-goal barrier, which traditionally is the number associated with elite WHL offenses.

“I’m not sure (if it’s the best offensive team under Williams),” Williams said. “Every team every year is different. This group definitely has its own identity and I feel we have good balance throughout our lineup. The players have been doing a good job with transitioning and getting to the blue paint. I also feel our power play has been clicking lately, which is great to see.”

As for last week’s two victories, it kept Everett in the same position it’s been in for several weeks. At 35-17-1-2 the Tips are a lonely figure in third place in the Western Conference based on winning percentage, comfortably behind Portland and Prince George, but well ahead of the rest of the pack.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Teague Patton. The overage forward terrorized Wenatchee in Friday’s contest, finishing with two goals and an assist. The goals gave Patton 21 this season, making him the sixth Everett player to reach the 20-goal mark. It is just the third time in franchise history that the Tips had six 20-goal scorers, joining 2017-18 and 2021-22.

Second star: Niko Tsakumis. The 18-year-old defenseman has been an overlooked played for the Tips this season, in part because he missed a significant stretch of the season because of injury. But he played a big role in Saturday’s victory over Spokane when he was involved in each of Everett’s first three goals. He finished with a goal, two assists and was a plus-4.

Ben Hemmerling

Ben Hemmerling

First star: Ben Hemmerling. The 19-year-old forward did it all for Everett last weekend. He had a goal and two assists in Friday against Wenatchee, then followed up with two goals Saturday against Spokane. He scored at even strength, on the power play and short-handed. He even scored what proved to be the winning goal in Saturday’s shootout. Hemmerling leads Everett in scoring with 73 points (24 goals, 49 assists) in 53 games.

The week ahead

This is the week that determines whether Everett has any chance of catching Portland for first place in the the U.S. Division and Western Conference.

The Tips and Winterhawks are tied for first in both the division and conference with 73 points, but Everett has played five more games, meaning Everett remains a ways back in terms of winning percentage (.730-.664). The Tips get their last two chances head-to-head against Portland this week, with the teams playing Tuesday in Portland and Sunday in Everett. The Tips likely need to win both games in regulation to have a realistic chance of catching the Winterhawks, something that could be difficult given Portland has won five of the previous six meetings this season. The Winterhawks have a wealth of offensive weapons, including 20-year-old forward Gabe Klassen (28 goals, 58 assists), as well as 19-year-old forward and key trade deadline acquisition Nate Danielson (three goals, 11 assists in 11 games with Portland).

In between those games Everett travels to Wenatchee on Friday and comes back home to face Seattle on Saturday. Wenatchee (27-21-4-0) is tied for fourth in the Western Conference, but has lost five straight. The Wild are led by 19-year-old forward Kenta Isogai (25 goals, 48 assists). Seattle (18-29-2-0) is mired in 10th place in the conference and needs to go on a run to get back into the playoff picture. The Thunderbirds lean heavily on 18-year-old goaltender Scott Ratzlaff (13-19-1-0, 3.38 goals against average, .904 save percentage).

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