It took nearly a month, but the Everett Silvertips finally tasted defeat during the 2021-22 WHL season. And even then the Tips still came away with something.
Everett had its franchise-record six-game winning streak to start the season snapped when the Tips fell to the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 in a shootout Friday night at Angel of the Winds Arena.
Everett headed into the weekend with a perfect record through six games, and the Tips had moved up to sixth in the Canadian Hockey League’s rankings, which put Everett fourth among WHL teams behind second-ranked Winnipeg, third-ranked Edmonton and fifth-ranked Kamloops.
Then in Friday’s game Everett appeared to be cruising to a seventh straight victory. The Tips thoroughly dominated the Winterhawks in the first period, outshooting Portland 15-1 and emerging with a 3-0 lead.
However, Everett got into penalty trouble, handing Portland six power plays over the second half of the game, and the Winterhawks capitalized, scoring twice on the advantage and then tying it up late with the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker.
The Tips again dominated in overtime, receiving a power play and outshooting Portland 7-0, a number that didn’t include hitting the crossbar on multiple occasions. No Everett players were able to convert in the shootout as the Winterhawks won it 1-0.
”I thought we had a strong first period, and then we probably came out with a different mindset, thinking it was a night to get points,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “Credit to Portland, they grinded it out and got the comeback. I think it’s was a lesson learned for our group. You need those sometimes, and our guys were able to learn while still collecting a point off of it.”
Not only did Everett still get a point from the shootout loss, the Tips rebounded well the following night at Spokane as they defeated the Chiefs 4-1. Everett was in control throughout as the Tips nearly doubled up Spokane on shots (29-15).
“I thought our response on Saturday was very good,” Williams said. “We went on the road, arrived in Spokane at 4 in the morning, then put in a pretty solid effort from start to finish. We took our foot off the gas a bit against Portland, but the response we got Saturday was what we wanted to see.”
Everett, which still hasn’t lost in regulation through eight games, remains in first place in the U.S. Division. The Tips are tied with the Seattle Thunderbirds at 15 points, with Seattle having played two more games.
Three stars of the week
Third star: Dylan Anderson. The 19-year-old defenseman isn’t a big point producer, but he scored his first goal of the season in the loss to Portland, and Williams said Anderson played a critical role in Everett putting the defensive clamps on Spokane.
Second star: Michal Gut. The 19-year-old center totalled two goals and one assist, with Williams giving him praise for his two-goal effort against Spokane. Gut now has three goals and seven assists in seven games, and his 10 points ties him for the team lead in scoring with Jackson Berezowski.
First star: Niko Huuhtanen. The 18-year-old winger and second-overall selection in this year’s CHL import draft was brought in as a sniper, and although he’s still awaiting his first WHL goal, he was heavily involved offensively over the weekend as he notched three assists and was named the game’s first star against Spokane
The week ahead
The Tips continue their mini playoff series against Spokane — the Tips are in the midst of four straight games against the Chiefs — with two more games in Spokane on Friday and Saturday. Everett is 2-0 against Spokane so far this season.
Spokane (3-6-1-0) has yet to win a home game in five attempts this season. The team is led by 20-year-old forward Luke Toporowski (six goals, five assists), while the goaltending has been handed over to 18-year-old Mason Beaupit (2-2-0-1, 3.00 goals against average, .899 save percentage) after Campbell Arnold was traded to Victoria.