The Everett Silvertips still haven’t solved the Portland Winterhawks yet, but perhaps they’re getting a little bit closer.
Everett dropped its third straight game against the U.S. Division favorites, falling 6-4 at Portland on Sunday. However, the Tips had a third period that may give them hope for their five future contests against the Winterhawks.
Everett came into the game having beaten every other team in the Western Conference they’d played except Portland, and those games against the Winterhawks weren’t close as they lost 4-1 at Portland on Oct. 8 and 5-1 at home on Oct. 21.
The circumstances weren’t in Everett’s favor on this occasion, either. The Tips were on the road playing their fourth game in five nights, while Portland was at home and rested, having had Saturday off and having played just once in the previous eight days. And it sure looked like it was going to be more of the same Sunday after the Winterhawks scored early in the third period to take a 5-1 lead.
However, Everett found a way back into the game. Dominik Rymon responded on the power play within 90 seconds of Portland going ahead 5-1. Andrew Petruk scored his first goal of the season to make it 5-3. Then Austin Roest put in a rebound on the power play for his second goal of the game with 7:39 remaining to pull the Tips within one. Everett had chances to tie it before the Winterhawks iced it with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Everett was also aided by the fact Portland No. 1 goaltender Jan Spunar, who leads the WHL in goals against average, limped off the ice in the first period. All four Everett goals came against backup Luke Brunen.
“I was very happy with our effort against Portland,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said via text message. “We competed until the end and that is all you can ask of your players. It is never easy playing four in five and three in three, but I was very pleased with the effort. Lots to build off of moving forward.”
The loss to Portland meant Everett ended up splitting its busy four-game week. The Tips won the first two, beating Prince Albert 4-3 at home on Wednesday and Seattle 4-1 at home on Friday, before dropping the rematch with Seattle 4-1 on Saturday in Kent.
The 2-2 week left Everett 13-9-1-0. The Tips have 27 points, which ties them with Portland for second in the U.S. Division, though the Winterhawks have played four fewer games. Wenatchee is in first with 30 points.
Three stars of the week
Third star: Eric Jamieson. The 18-year-old defenseman had two assists across the four games. But what distinguished him was the heroic effort he made in blocking shots at the end of the game against Prince Albert, when the Raiders pulled their goalie in search of the tying goal.
Second star: Teague Patton. The 20-year-old forward finished the week with a goal and four assists. He was one of just two Everett players — the other being Carter Bear — who recorded a point in each of the Tips’ four games.
First star: Roest. The 19-year-old forward had another outstanding week, tallying three goals and three assists. Slated to be Everett’s star offensive performer this season, Roest had a relatively quiet start to the season. But he’s found his groove, scoring 12 goals in his past 13 games.
The week ahead
It’s another busy week for Everett as the Tips play three times in four days, with the last of those being the beginning of their second long road trip in less than a month.
The first game is Wednesday when the Saskatoon Blades visit Angel of the Winds Arena. Saskatoon (15-6-0-0) is in first place in the East Division and is considered a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. The Blades feature the league’s leader in assists in 20-year-old forward Trevor Wong (six goals, 30 assists), and they have a first-round NHL draft pick in 18-year-old defenseman Tanner Molendyk (four goals, 20 assists).
On Friday the Tips have a rematch with Portland, this time at home. The Winterhawks (13-5-0-1) continue to be led by 20-year-old forward Gabe Klassen (12 goals, 21 assists) and 19-year-old defenseman Luca Cagnoni (three goals, 24 assists).
The week ends with a trip to Kamloops on Saturday. The Blazers (5-12-2-2) only recently passed Edmonton to pull out of the WHL’s cellar. The return of 19-year-old forward Frasen Minten (one goal, six assists in six games) from the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs has helped their cause. Kamloops is the first stop on a five-game road trip through northern B.C. and northern Alberta.