Silvertips remain confident after up-and-down week

Everett experienced dramatic highs and lows while splitting four games. Coach Dennis Williams isn’t concerned.

Jackson Berezowski

Jackson Berezowski

On the scoreboard, the Everett Silvertips just underwent about as topsy-turvy a week as a WHL team can experience. But as far as Everett coach Dennis Williams is concerned, the Tips were consistent throughout.

Everett experienced some dramatic highs and lows, starting the week with huge home victories by beating Spokane 9-2 on Wednesday and Tri-City 8-2 on Friday, then losing a lead in a 6-5 loss to Vancouver at home on Saturday before being blown out 7-1 Sunday at Portland.

The big wins were nothing new for the Tips (18-3-1-1), who came into the week having lost just once in regulation in 19 contests. The defeats, particularly the lopsided one against the Winterhawks, were less expected. But Williams wasn’t bothered by the losses — Everett outshot the opposition in both — because he was still satisfied with the Tips’ effort level.

“I don’t think we played bad hockey, but I also knew were weren’t going to go 64-4,” Williams said. “We played Vancouver and lost 6-5, but I thought we played well enough to win that game. Credit to them, they got the extra goal, but when you score five you’re hoping you win.

“Then we went to Portland and they were opportunistic,” Williams continued. “But what I found really good from Sunday’s game is that we didn’t quit. It would have been really easy, being on the back end of a three-in-three and being down 6-0 after two periods, to throw in the towel. But we came out in the third period and scored right away, and we battled to the final buzzer. It’s a characteristic I told the players that I’m proud of, and we can build off that.”

Indeed, Williams emphasized that he urges his players not to look at the scoreboard, which would have been easy to do in any of Everett’s games the past week.

“A big thing I tell the guys is, ‘Don’t ever play to the score,’” Williams said. “Even in the wins against Tri-City and Spokane, every period we want to come out with a 0-0 mindset with the goal to win that period, then hit the reset button. If you do that then the outcome will take care of itself.

“Losses are part of the game, they’re OK as long as you learn from them and as long as the effort is there, ” Williams added. “We saw that effort in (the losses to Vancouver and Portland), and that’s all you can ask for. Sometimes the puck bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s bounced our way a lot this year.”

Three stars of the week

Third star: Hunter Campbell. The 20-year-old winger tallied five goals and one assist across the four games, including scoring his first career WHL hat trick against Tri-City.

Second star: Olen Zellweger. The 18-year-old defenseman had one goal and eight assists. He tied the franchise record for points in a game by a D-man with five against Tri-City, when somehow he was a plus-7.

First star: Jackson Berezowski. The 19-year-old winger had five goals and three assists. He got the week started in style with a five-point night against Spokane, when he also scored his first career hat trick.

The week ahead

This week the Tips start to learn how well they function without their stars.

Canada’s selection camp for its team for the World Junior Hockey Championships begins Thursday in Calgary. Therefore, Everett will be without its top two defensemen in Zellweger and Ronan Seeley for the short term as they attempt to make the team, and potentially for as long as a month should they make the squad. The Tips will also be without Williams for the next month as he serves as Canada’s assistant coach in charge of the defense and penalty kill.

Williams departs Tuesday, so he will miss Wednesday’s home game against Kelowna. Zellweger and Seeley leave Thursday, so they’ll miss Friday’s and Saturday’s games at Tri-City, and could miss as many as 11 more should they make the team.

With center Michal Gut also a likely selection to play for the Czech Republic, and with Campbell and defenseman Aidan Sutter suffering undisclosed injuries over the weekend, Everett is bringing in defensemen Brady Van Herk and Eric Jamieson and forward Caden Zaplitny this week to fill out the ranks.

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