Silvertips roll to another weekend sweep

Everett pelted its opponents with 55.7 shots per game and extended its winning streak to eight.

Ryan Hofer

Ryan Hofer

The Everett Silvertips are rolling. The Tips just completed a second straight sweep of a three-in-three weekend, and Everett did it in style as it defeated Victoria 4-2 on Friday, Prince George 6-0 on Saturday and Kelowna 6-2 on Sunday, all at Angel of the Winds Arena.

But as impressive as the final scores were, the number that pops off the stat sheet is the shot totals.

Everett pelted the opposing goal like a winter hailstorm all weekend long. The Tips lead the WHL in shots on goal at 39.0 per game, but this weekend Everett took it to another level, firing off 62 shots on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday — including an astonishing 34 shots in a single period against Prince George — then came out and outshot Kelowna 21-2 in the first period Sunday. Overall the Tips averaged 55.7 shots on target over the weekend’s three contests while allowing just 26.3.

The shot differentials are an indication of just how much Everett is dominating possession of the puck.

“The last three years I think we’ve been at the top of the league for shots on net,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “Sometimes those are an anomaly, we don’t expect to get 50-plus shots every game. But our focus is on what we like to call the fun zone: the offensive zone. It’s where we want to play, so we go hard on puck retrievals, and I think the guys have done a good job of identifying our offensive-zone play.

“I think in junior hockey shot volume is important,” Williams continued. “At the pro level it’s maybe not as important because those goalies can get in place. But at the junior level there are so many variables. We don’t look at it as a shooting mindset, but as a scorer’s mindset, meaning we’re shooting with a purpose. We put pucks on net maybe not to score, but to create second and third chances.”

While Everett is leading the WHL in shots per game, only one of the league’s top 10 in individual total shots is a Silvertip. That illustrates how Everett isn’t just getting big shot volume from one or two lines, it’s coming from everyone.

“I like our forward depth,” Williams said. “And the way we like to work pucks is that the defense needs to be involved, too. We’re not just relying on Jackson Berezowski’s line to do all the legwork.”

The few shots that were directed toward Everett’s goal were mostly turned aside by the goaltenders. Indeed, Koen MacInnes earned WHL Goaltender of the Week honors for stopping all 24 shots he faced against Prince George. It was his second Goaltender of the Week award of the season.

Last week also saw Everett lock up assistant coach Dean DeSilva for two more years. DeSilva, who joined the team in the offseason, signed a contract extension that goes through the 2023-24 season. DeSilva works primarily with Everett’s forwards.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Ben Hemmerling. Everett’s Triple-H line has been putting up big numbers and the 17-year-old Hemmerling, who plays left wing on the Triple-H line and is the playmaker among the trio, had two goals and three assists across the three games.

Second star: Niko Huuhtanen. The 18-year-old, who plays right wing on the Triple-H line and provides both the booming shot and physical presence, tallied two goals and four assists.

First star: Ryan Hofer. The 19-year-old, who plays center on the Triple-H line, rounded out a tremendous weekend by his line with two goals and four assists. Not only did Hofer pile up points, he scored with big-time shots and got assists from big-time set-ups.

The week ahead

Everett stays in the B.C. Division this week, as the Tips travel to Kelowna (24-11-1-3) on Friday and return home to face Kamloops (31-11-1-0) on Saturday in a game between the Western Conference’s top two teams.

Everett (33-7-2-2) is riding an eight-game winning streak and remains in first place in both the conference and the U.S. Division. However, the Tips haven’t gained any ground on their nearest competition during that stretch. Kamloops has won nine straight and remains seven points behind Everett in the conference standings, having played one fewer game. Therefore, Saturday’s head-to-head matchup will have a large bearing on how tight the race is down the stretch.

Meanwhile, Portland has won 15 of its past 16 and remains 11 points behind the Tips in the U.S. Division, having played one fewer game. While that’s still a comfortable margin for the Tips, the Winterhawks are poised to pounce on any Everett slips, especially considering the teams still have four games against one another remaining.

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