During his first four seasons in the WHL, Hunter Campbell was not a prolific scorer. The 20-year-old winger maxed out at 13 points in both the 2018-19 (46 games) and 2020-21 (23 games) seasons, as he played more of a checking role for the Calgary Hitmen and later the Everett Silvertips.
But the past weekend’s outburst punctuated the progress the Everett native has made thus far in his overage campaign.
Campbell had a big weekend, notching two goals and two assists over two games as the Tips swept a pair in Spokane on Friday and Saturday.
Campbell first tallied a goal and two assists in Friday’s 5-4 victory, then he scored the game winner in overtime in Saturday’s 2-1 win as Everett improved to 9-0-0-1. He now leads the Tips in scoring with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 10 contests.
“He was great,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said about Campbell. “He’s one of our leaders and a guy we rely on. I don’t think he was a guy who in past years anyone looked to bring a ton of offense. But he’s doing it because he’s playing to his strengths and plays an honest game. He goes to areas of the rink where a lot of players don’t like to go, which is the front of the net, and for that he gets rewarded. I’m really happy for Hunter.”
Overall, it was a quirky pair of games against Spokane. On Friday Everett led 5-1 through two periods, only for the Chiefs to come charging back in the third, forcing the Tips to hold on late. Then on Saturday the game went to overtime, despite Everett outshooting Spokane 14-0 in the third period.
“One of the things we have to work on is finishing games off and not playing to the score,” Williams said about Friday’s game. “We have to continue playing every game and every period like it’s 0-0. But maybe it was what we needed, because we came out the next day and were really strong all game.”
The victories mean Everett has started the season with at least a point in 10 straight games, which is a new franchise record. The previous mark was nine, when the Tips started 5-0-3-1 in 2014-15.
Everett played the weekend’s two games without top center Michal Gut, who Williams said was under the weather. Gut is expected back this week.
Three stars of the week
Third star: Ryan Hofer. The 19-year-old center had two assists, one in each game, including the set-up for Saturday’s game winner. He also had a team-leading 12 shots on goal over the weekend.
Second star: Matthew Ng. The 17-year-old center had a goal and an assist in Friday’s game, making a nice steal and set-up for Campbell’s goal and finishing off a nice feed from Austin Roest for his own.
First star: Campbell. Have a weekend, Mr. Campbell.
The week ahead
This is the week Everett’s schedule begins to look like a regular WHL schedule. To this point the Tips have only played on the weekend and never played more than two games in a week. But this week Everett has its first weeknight game, and the Tips also have their first three-game week, with each contest against a different U.S. Division foe. All three take place at Angel of the Winds Arena.
On Wednesday Everett completes its stretch of four straight games against Spokane (3-7-2-0). The Tips are 4-0 against the Chiefs this season. Luke Toporowski leads Spokane with 14 points (six goals, eight assists).
On Friday Everett welcomes Tri-City (2-6-2-0), which is the only U.S. Division team the Tips have yet to play this season. Overage forward Sasha Mutala, Tri-City’s leading scorer each of the past two seasons, has returned from a professional tryout, but has yet to play. The Americans traded No. 1 goaltender Talyn Boyko to Kelowna on Sunday.
Then on Saturday it’s the main event as Everett welcomes Seattle (9-2-1-0) to town. The U.S. Division is shaping up as a two-horse race between the Tips and the Thunderbirds. Seattle hasn’t lost since falling to Everett 3-0 on Oct. 15, winning seven straight. The T-birds are led by forwards Jordan Gustafson (eight goals, six assists) and Conner Roulette (six goals, eight assists).