The Everett Silvertips commenced its Eastern Conference swing on a sour note, falling to the Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-2, at Westoba Place on Friday.
A tip of the cap: Everett only produced two goals, despite outshooting Brandon 38-31, and Connor Dewar was assessed a five-minute major plus a game misconduct for a cross-check. It’s a frustrating way to lose, highlighting Everett’s early season struggles with converting chances into goals.
But sometimes you just have to give a hand to the talent of the other team. Stelio Mattheos, a third-round pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2017, notched a hat trick, two of which came by cashing in on even-strength chances. He’s tied for the league Czech goaltender Jiri Patera, a sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017, stopped 36 shots.
Tough matchups ahead: For Friday’s newspaper, I penned a preview for the upcoming road trip, outlining the optimism the Silvertips harbored as they traveled across the border. But I neglected a few potential stumbling blocks, particularly with the top-end strength of the East Division.
Brandon was one of those potential stumbling blocks, with upper-echelon talents in Mattheos and Patera.
So is Prince Albert, which Everett will play on Oct. 23, is leading the WHL with 22 points and 57 goals scored in 12 games. Brett Leason leads the WHL with 26 points and goaltender Ian Scott boasts the best goals allowed average at 1.60. The Raiders appear to be a juggernaut early on.
The Silvertips will play Saskatoon the next day on Oct. 24, which is led by former Everett player and assistant coach Mitch Love. The Blades are third in the WHL in points and boast Kirby Dach, regarded as one of the top prospects for the 2018 NHL Draft. He is third in the WHL at 22 points.
Moose Jaw (Oct 26) is a solid team and Regina (Sunday at 2 p.m.) and Swift Current (Oct . 27) are in rebuilding mode. Those are games Everett should capitalize on. Against the other three opponents, it may give the Silvertips a better barometer of where their at compared to what appears to be the WHL’s top contenders in the Eastern Conference.
On the bright side: Everett potted both of its goals on the power play, with Sahvan Khaira and Connor Dewar with the tallies. The Silvertips are showed more cohesiveness and poise with the man advantage last weekend and it appears it has spilled over into the road trip.
— Nineteen-year-old forward Luke Ormsby returned to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury.
— Overage forward Sean Richards served the last game of a four-game suspension.
— Jordin Tootoo announced his retirement from the National Hockey League before Brandon’s tilt with Everett on Friday in a press conference.
A man who defied all odds returns to the place he called "home" in @TheWHL: Jordin Tootoo announces his retirement.
1st Inuk player to suit up in the NHL.
Incredible full circle tonight in Brandon. pic.twitter.com/7DVzqrGqSG
— Mike Benton (@Benton_Mike) October 19, 2018
Tootoo, 35, played for the Wheat Kings from 1999 to 2003, compiling 209 points on 93 goals and 116 assists. He posted 161 points in 723 NHL games for the Nashville Predators (2003-2012), Detroit Red Wings (2012-2013), New Jersey Devils (2014-2016) and the Chicago Blackhawks (2016-2017).
According to Bergson, Tootoo plans to work with indigenous communities on mental health issues and suicide prevention. Tootoo is the first Inuk player to play in the NHL.
— The Winnipeg Free Press reported the owners of the Kootenay Ice could be just months away from announcing a move to Winnipeg for the 2019-2020 season.
Around the U.S. Division
Dach scored two goals, including the game winner, to boost Saskatoon over Spokane. … Cody Glass chipped in a goal and an assist in Portland’s 5-3 win over Vancouver. … Tri-City edged Seattle, 4-2, with forward Nolan Yaremko tallying three assists.