EVERETT — There are no do-overs in the game of hockey.
The Everett Silvertips began the season with a 7-4 home loss to Portland on Sept. 23. The tough start to the season continued with a difficult 2-4 showing against a weak WHL Central Division on the road in October. A 4-3 loss at Seattle on Oct. 22 was Everett’s fourth straight defeat and dropped the Tips to 4-9-1.
Five days later their season turned.
Rookie goaltender Dustin Wolf made his long-anticipated debut in a 3-1 win at Kamloops, and followed that up with a 3-2 victory at Portland two days later. Two-time defending WHL Goaltender of the Year Carter Hart returned to action the following weekend in a 3-1 win over Prince George at home.
In 13 games since Wolf’s debut the Tips are 9-3-0-1. Wolf was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week for his first week in the league and Hart is the two-time defending WHL Goaltender of the Week as well as the reigning CHL Goaltender of the Week.
Friday night the Tips (13-12-1-1, 28 points) return to Sandman Centre where they began to salvage their season.
“We just gotta keep going forward,” said overage defenseman Kevin Davis, who is from Kamloops. “I think we’ve been doing a good job this past month here, so we just have to keep going.”
Friday is a special game for Davis as the Tips co-captain is playing his final regular-season game at Sandman Centre. Davis has been a staple on Everett’s blue line for a half-decade after the Tips took him in the first round of the 2012 bantam draft.
Davis is Everett’s third-leading scorer with four goals and 22 assists this season, trailing only fellow overagers and forwards Patrick Bajkov (14 goals, 22 assists) and Matt Fonteyne (11 goals, 16 assists) in the points chase.
“I haven’t really thought about it that much,” Davis said of playing his final game in Kamloops. “It will be nice to see my family and friends one last time. It’s a game that will be a fun one.”
The Blazers (12-13-0-0, 24 points) lost their first nine games of the season, but Everett’s visit to Kamloops last month seemed to galvanize the Blazers in much the same way it did the Tips. The Blazers topped Seattle 4-3 at home Wednesday night and are 9-2 since falling to Everett.
Center Garrett Pilon (13 goals, 22 assists) has an 11-game point streak. Defenseman Joe Gatenby (seven goals, 17 assists) and forwards Nick Chyzowski (nine goals, 14 assists) and Jermaine Loewen (12 goals, eight assists) are also key offensive performers.
Goaltender Dylan Ferguson’s overall statistics aren’t spectacular after his poor start to the season mirrored that of his team. However, he got a cup of coffee with the Vegas Golden Knights as an emergency backup this month, and has won five straight since he returned without allowing more than three goals in any contest.
“They’re playing a lot of good hockey,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “Ferguson back in the net has been very solid since he came back from Vegas and they’re playing well at home. It’s going to be another good test. It’s never easy in the Western Hockey League and so we need to go up there and our focus needs to be on two points and then we’ll worry about Saturday (on) Saturday.”
Everett’s offense receives a huge boost Friday as second-line winger Connor Dewar (10 goals, nine assists) returns after missing four games due to an upper body injury. The Tips are also fresh off a five-day break after playing seven games in 11 days. They’ve struggled at times to put a full lineup together in dealing with one-game suspensions to Montana Onyebuchi, Sean Richards and Luke Ormsby, in addition to Dewar’s absence. Everett has also consistently been dressing 11 forwards and 11 defensemen.
“I think with having Dewey out having the extra days helped us on that end,” Williams said. “I think we needed a bit of a break, and not just a physical break, but a mental break.”
The Tips return home Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. contest against the Saskatoon Blades. The night also serves as Everett’s Teddy Bear Toss. The Tips have defeated Saskatoon five straight times.
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