A five-game road trip through British Columbia and Alberta that covered approximately 1,800 miles concluded on a high note for the Everett Silvertips.
Everett completed the trek Saturday night with a 5-2 win over Prince George, a team that’s in the basement of the B.C. Division standings but knocked off Everett in the teams’ previous two meetings this season. Everett collected five of a possible 10 points on the trip.
The final game included a career-first: rookie goaltender Braden Holt recorded his first career Western Hockey League win. He stopped 19 of 21 shots in the victory.
After the up-and-down road trip, the Silvertips are three points behind the Portland Winterhawks for first place in the U.S. Division, with Portland possessing a game in hand.
The Silvertips’ lineup will look a little different for this weekend’s slate of games.
Not only are goaltender Dustin Wolf and forward Martin Fasko-Rudas returning from the Czech Republic after competing in the under-20 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship, but newly acquired forward Ty Kolle is set to join the team early in the week after the Silvertips acquired him from Regina for two draft picks and a prospect.
If there’s a silver lining to Team USA’s early quarterfinal exit for hockey fans in Everett, it’s having Wolf back in net earlier than expected.
Wolf and Team USA were bounced in the quarterfinals with a 1-0 loss to Finland on Thursday. The 2001-born net-minder was primarily the backup for Florida Panthers’ prospect Spencer Knight and was in the crease for just one game, allowing three goals and stopping 17 shots in Team USA’s 6-3 win over Germany in pool play.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) December 27, 2019
Fasko-Rudas and Slovakia also were knocked out in the quarterfinals, falling 6-1 to Canada. The 19-year-old forward logged first-line minutes, finishing with a goal, two points and a minus-2 rating in five games. He was named one of Slovakia’s three players of the tournament by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Players of the game:
🇨🇦 Barrett Hayton (ARZ)
🇸🇰 Boris Cesanek
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) January 2, 2020
There were two Silvertips connections to tournament champion Canada, which erased a two-goal deficit in the third period to top Russia, 4-3, in the gold-medal game Sunday. Mitch Love, a Silvertips legend as a player and a coach, was on Canada’s bench as an assistant coach, and Tyler Dietrich, a Silvertips player from 2003-2005, was Team Canada’s video coach.
Fonstad en fuego
Silvertips forward Cole Fonstad posted 11 points over the five-game road trip and leads the WHL with 41 assists, five more than Zane Franklin of Kamloops.
Trade market heating up
With the Jan. 10 WHL trade deadline fast approaching, teams are starting to get active. Nine deals have been completed since the Christmas Break trade freeze was lifted Dec. 27.
The Silvertips made two of those moves, trading for Kolle and sending backup goaltender Keegan Karki to Prince Albert.
If the Silvertips want to make a splash, they likely will have to shell out plenty of assets as prices appear to be high. That’s not uncommon when a WHL team is hosting the Memorial Cup, which is in Kelowna this year.
Watch for Brandon, Moose Jaw and Saskatoon to be sellers. All are in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference and have plenty of interesting pieces to offer.
Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @JoshHortonEDH