Tips glad streak in the past

  • By Nick Patterson / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, November 29, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

EVERETT – The levity came a bit easier, the spontaneous smiles more frequent.

The Everett Silvertips’ practice Tuesday may have been a casual affair, with fun emphasized as much as structure. But there’s no doubt that part of the Silvertips’ relaxed demeanor was because of the heavy weight that had been lifted from their shoulders.

Everett took to the practice ice Tuesday for the first time since ending its seven-game losing streak Sunday, and for the Silvertips the sense of relief is almost palpable.

“Guys were getting pretty tense after the games, everyone would be pretty upset,” said Everett right wing Jesse Smyke, who scored a crucial goal in the Tips’ 3-2 shootout victory over Prince Albert on Sunday. “There wasn’t much talking, especially on road trips when it was just quiet on the bus and not much fun. Getting that win everyone was like, ‘Yeah, we know what it feels like to win again.’ So let’s try to keep it that way.”

Sunday’s victory ended the worst stretch in franchise history. Everett went more than three weeks without tasting victory. During that stretch the Tips not only suffered through a franchise-worst seven-game losing skid, but the team never even held a lead in any game during the stretch.

And now that the Tips have experienced the depths, they want to make sure they heed the wake-up call.

“From this point on it’s all straight business now,” Everett right wing Brady Calla said. “Every time we come to the rink everyone’s going to have to have a hard-working attitude to keep this going.”

Everett had its share of extenuating circumstances during the losing streak. The streak coincided with the worst injury crisis in franchise history, with the Tips missing as many as six key players for games. And the skid began towards the end of Everett’s longest road trip of the season, when the Tips were tired and ripe for the picking.

However, while Everett coach Kevin Constantine acknowledges the circumstances – particularly the injuries – he refuses to accept them as an excuse.

“In this business it’s easy to build excuses for why you shouldn’t be required to give everything you’ve got,” Constantine said. “Whether you’re slightly injured or a little fatigued or your linemate’s missing, it’s easy as an athlete to build excuses to maybe not go hard. I think a couple of times we built some convenient excuses not to go hard, and hopefully there’s a lesson in that.”

Constantine actually saw the seeds of the slump well before the losing streak began. Everett’s losing streak immediately followed a franchise-record eight-game winning streak. He believes Everett’s work ethic suffered as a result of the winning streak.

“You always have to be honing your fundamentals, and sometimes when you’re winning you forget how hard it takes to actually win,” he said. “I think we did that a little bit.”

Smyke agreed: “We’re a talented team, but we can’t win on talent alone. Everyone’s got to put in the effort. Even with guys out of the lineup, that’s not really why we lost. We just didn’t have the energy. During the eight-game winning streak we had guys out of the lineup. We just started thinking we were better than we actually are, then we laid back a little bit.”

Now that the losing streak is behind Everett, there will be a delicate balance on how the Tips regard the streak. On one hand, Everett wants to leave the streak in the past, move forward and focus on the present. On the other hand, the Tips don’t want to completely forget the streak and thus not learn anything from it.

“I wouldn’t say we try to forget it,” Smyke said. “I’d say we learn from it and take things about it on how we can avoid getting into a losing slump like that again. You can’t just forget it because if you forget about it, then it could happen again.”

And that’s something the Tips want to make sure they prevent.

“I think you look back at it like a learning experience,” Calla said. “A lot of those games we were coming up with excuses for ourselves. But deep inside I think each individual in that room could say that they could offer a lot more and work harder. If we stay with that and work hard every night, it will never ever happen again.”

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