Tips get revenge against T-birds, hold steady atop U.S. Division

Everett remains three points ahead of second-place Portland after beating Seattle and Spokane.

Jackson Berezowski

Jackson Berezowski

The Everett Silvertips got a little revenge on one of their closest rivals last week, and as a result the Tips are a fraction more secure atop the WHL’s U.S. Division.

Everett avenged a home loss from one week earlier when it defeated the rival Seattle Thunderbirds 4-3 Saturday night in Kent. That result, combined with a 6-3 home victory over Spokane on Friday, helped consolidate the Tips’ first-place position in the division with a month remaining in the regular season.

“We played well,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said via text message while the team was bussing to Spokane. “I really liked our compete and resiliency to stick to the game plan. There definitely are a few areas we need to continue to improve upon, but that will be a work in progress. Overall I was very happy with the games and the outcomes.”

Everett lost to Seattle by the same 4-3 score seven days earlier at Angel of the Winds Arena, ending a rough weekend for the Tips as they lost home contests against both Portland and the T-birds, which significantly tightened the race for first.

But Everett won a back-and-forth encounter at ShoWare Center on Saturday, as the teams traded goals until second-period markers by Ben Hemmerling and Jackson Berezowski gave the Tips a two-goal cushion that was enough to hold the T-birds off in the third.

“I thought we played well last weekend against them at home, and sometimes when you play well you don’t win,” Williams answered when asked the difference between two two games against Seattle. “On top of that they’re a strong club. I really commend our leadership group for the hard two-point victory. They were very vocal on the bench and played the game hard, especially in the third when we needed it.”

Williams also mentioned that getting overage defenseman Jonny Lambos, who completed his three-game suspension for a one-man fight against Seattle on Feb. 26, back into the lineup was a factor.

Saturday’s result concluded a week that proved to be far more favorable for the Tips than the previous one. Not only did Everett (38-9-3-5, 84 points) restore its advantage over third-place Seattle (34-15-3-2, 74 points) to double digits, the Tips were beneficiaries when second-place Portland (38-15-3-2, 81 points) unexpectedly lost games to both Victoria and Vancouver. Therefore, although Everett’s lead over the Winterhawks remained three points, the Tips now have the added benefit of three games in hand on Portland.

As for the race for the Western Conference’s top seed to the playoffs, Everett remains tied with B.C. Division leader Kamloops, though the Blazers have played two more games.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Dylan Anderson. The 19-year-old defenseman has upped his game in recent weeks, and he turned in a special performance against Spokane as he tallied two assists and was on the ice for all five of Everett’s even-strength goals.

Second star: Hemmerling. The 17-year-old winger scored goals in both of Everett’s games. His goal against Seattle, which gave the Tips the lead for good, was spectacular as he pulled the puck away from two T-birds, then put home a shot from his knees as he was diving to the ice.

First star: Berezowski. The winger in his 19-year-old season has been steady as an oak, and this week’s two games were no exception as he tallied a goal and an assist in both. His ability to make things happen in close to the net has been invaluable for Everett this season.

The week ahead

This is the busiest week Everett has left this season, as the Tips play four games, including a three-in-three weekend.

What it does not include, however, are any four-point games, as none of the four are against the other four Western Conference contenders. Indeed, Everett plays just two teams, with games home and away against both Spokane (away Tuesday, home Sunday) and Vancouver (away Friday, home Saturday). But while neither the Chiefs (19-32-4-1) nor the Giants (22-29-3-0) are among the contenders, both have knocked off contenders recently, as Spokane beat Seattle on Feb. 25 and Vancouver topped Portland on Saturday.

Saturday’s game begins a stretch of five consecutive home games for the Tips. After that Everett plays just one of its final six games at home.

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