Silvertips struggle on power play during road trip

Coach Dennis Williams expects the team will turn around its early fortunes in the key situations.

Cade Zaplitny

Cade Zaplitny

The Everett Silvertips suffered a power outage on the road.

Everett played its first road games of the season last weekend, and the Tips dropped both contests, losing 4-1 at Portland on Friday and 3-1 at Tri-City on Saturday.

And perhaps the biggest reason for the defeats was an inability to convert on the power play.

Everett had a distinct advantage in shots on goal in both contests, outshooting Portland 43-26 and outshooting Tri-City 33-21. However, the Tips were unable to take advantage of their power plays, going just 1-for-7 against the Winterhawks and 0-for-8 against the Americans.

The issues were illustrated best late in the game against Tri-City. Everett, trailing 2-1 late in the third period, received 46 seconds of five-on-three. However, the Tips were unable to capitalize, and just 28 seconds after the second penalty expired the Americans scored the goal that clinched the victory.

“The power play was a huge factor in those games,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “As I explained to our players, it’s the timing of the power plays and penalty kills as much as the numbers. (At the end against Tri-City), if we score then no one cares that we went 1-for-8 because we scored when we needed it. So it’s a lesson learned, but it’s something we need to be better at.”

The power play, which overall is converting at 16.7% to rank 13th in the league, is one area in particular where the Tips miss Jackson Berezowski. The graduated overager scored 22 of his team record-breaking 48 goals last season while on the power play, largely by planting himself in front of the goalie to create screens and pounce on loose pucks.

“Our net-front presence has to be better,” Williams said. “We were fortunate the last five or six years to have good net-front guys like Jackson Berezowski, Bryce Kindopp, Riley Sutter. Those guys found a niche by taking away the goalie’s eyes. We’ve been rotating guys in that position because we haven’t found that person who wants to stand there and take the slashes and cross checks, but guys who do that are rewarded with goals. I’d like to see someone jump into that role and want to be that factor on the power play for us.

“But it’s early in the year, and I expect our group to turn,” Williams continued. “I think we have a lot of very skilled players on our team and it will just be a matter of time. We probably need one to go in off a shin pad and hopefully the dam breaks and we’re able to see a flow of goals. But we’re definitely gripping the stick tight right now, both five-on-five and on the power play.”

With the losses Everett dropped to 3-3-0-0 and is tied for third in the U.S. Division, two points behind leading Portland.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Rylan Pearce. The 18-year-old defenseman didn’t register any points over the weekend, and he was largely an afterthought heading into training camp after being a low-key piece of last year’s Olen Zellweger trade. But Williams praised his steady contributions and commitment to keeping things simple, especially with Dexter Whittle down with a long-term injury.

Second star: Austin Roest. The 19-year-old forward has had a slow start to the season, but Everett’s leading returning scorer nabbed his first goal of the campaign against Tri-City. He also had a team-leading seven shots on goal in the game.

First star: Cade Zaplitny. The 19-year-old forward scored Everett’s lone goal against Portland, putting in a rebound for Everett’s only power-play goal of the weekend. He also was good in the faceoff circle, going 9-for-13 against the Winterhawks.

The week ahead

Everett has a rare slow week as the Tips play just once, traveling to face the Victoria Royals on Friday.

Victoria (1-4-0-0) hasn’t played a playoff game since 2019, and before the season began the Royals were expected to be in another rebuilding season. That notion was reinforced when Victoria traded a pair of 19-year-old veterans, forward Brayden Schuurman and defenseman Kalem Parker, to Moose Jaw last week. Yet the Royals picked up their first victory of the season, a 4-1 triumph at Kamloops on Friday, following the trade.

Victoria has been led by 19-year-old forwards Tanner Scott (three goals, two assists) and Robin Sapousek (two goals, three assists) and 18-year-old defenseman Nate Misskey (five assists). The Royals also have a familiar face in goal in 20-year-old Braden Holt (1-3-0-0, 4.53 goals against average, .887 save percentage), who is a former Silvertip.

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