Kevin Clark / The Herald

***Silvertips Special Sections*****
Yan Khomenko signals for substitution Sunday night at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Wa on September 6th, 2015

Sports:  Silvertips Special Section
Shot on: 09/06/15

Tips week in review: Red-hot Everett off to franchise-best start

The Silvertips are 6-0 while outscoring opponents by a 22-9 to margin.

The Everett Silvertips have experienced a lot of success during their 19 seasons in the WHL. But never before have they started a season this well.

Everett tallied two more victories over the weekend, defeating the Portland Winterhawks on the road by scores of 5-2 and 1-0 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. As a result, the Tips have started the season with six consecutive wins for the first time in franchise history.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said, tempering the excitement of the hot start. “We have to continue to build and continue to get better in a lot of areas of the game. I liked our game on Friday, I thought we had a lot of jump and pace, and we had good balance from all our forwards, our back end and our goalies. Saturday was more of a sloppier game, there wasn’t a lot of flow to it and we never found our groove, which was a testament to Portland playing a really good game. So we have to continue to learn and have a growth mindset.”

Everett came into the weekend a perfect 4-0, which was tied for the second-best start in franchise history with the 2006-07 and 2010-11 teams. Thanks to the weekend’s two victories, this year’s Tips surpassed the franchise’s previous best start, which was five straight wins last season.

Everett hasn’t been quite as dominant as it was last season, when the Tips steamrolled the competition by outscoring its opponents 20-2 en route to a 5-0 start. But Everett still holds a 22-9 scoring advantage through six contests, including three shutouts.

“I really want to compliment our leaders,” Williams said when asked why the team has started so well. “I feel our leadership group has done a really good job of working with our first-year players and making sure everyone bought in to it. It’s easy to say you’ve bought in, but it’s another thing to actually do it. We’ve had a great culture since I’ve been here, guys have learned from the great leaders we had in the past, and a lot of this is on those guys doing a really good job in the locker room. We don’t have any cliques or egos in our group, everyone seems to get along well, and every game someone seems to step up to the plate and give a little extra.”

Everett also paired its roster down to 24 players last week as 18-year-old winger Jack Lambert was reassigned to Corpus Christi of the North American Hockey League.

Three stars of the week

Third star: Ryan Hofer. The 19-year-old center didn’t have any points, but Williams praised his forechecking and responsibility in all three zones, and Hofer was one of the players screening the goalie for the lone goal in Saturday’s game.

Second star: Braden Holt. The 18-year-old goaltender made his third start of the season Saturday and recorded his second shutout, stopping all 22 shots he faced. Holt now leads the league in goals against average (1.32) and ranks second in save percentage (.947).

First star: Alex Swetlikoff. The 20-year-old center, acquired from Kelowna during the offseason, had already made an immediate impact. But he had his biggest night of the season Friday, scoring a hat trick in Everett’s 5-2 victory. He was a shot machine over the weekend, peppering the Portland net with eight shots on Friday and seven more on Saturday.

The week ahead

The Tips have already seen a lot of Portland this season, and Everett gets the Winterhawks again this week when the Tips host Portland (3-4-0-1) on Friday night. The Tips are 3-0 against the Winterhawks, allowing just two goals in the process. Portland is still waiting to see whether it gets star 19-year-old center Seth Jarvis back. Jarvis has been with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, but was a healthy scratch in each of Carolina’s first four games, so there remains a good chance Jarvis will be returned to the Winterhawks at some point.

Everett’s other game this week is Saturday at Spokane, where the Tips needed overtime to prevail 4-3 in their season opener. Spokane (3-4-1-0), led by 20-year-old winger Luke Toporowski (six goals, five assists), has been particularly proficient on the power play this season, converting at a 27% rate, which will be a test of Everett’s league-leading penalty kill (90%). Saturday’s game begins a stretch of four consecutive games against Spokane.

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