Hello from Kennewick.
The Everett Silvertips have a simple objective in pursuit of the top seed in the Western Conference and the franchise’s 6th U.S. Division title in 15 years:
Just 3 more points.
That’s the magic number to get it done. It requires any combination of points gained by the Silvertips within this last week, or points lost by the closest team to them in the standings (in this case, Portland). The Silvertips had a chance to knock the last three points out Sunday, since it was a “four-point swing” game against Portland.
They’ll have to wait, since Portland doesn’t play again until Friday. But two more points against tonight Tri-City puts them on the threshold. Once this clears up, we’ll have a better indication on playoff dates to be announced by the Tips, who are also guaranteed home ice advantage in the opening round.
UPDATES: No Ondrej Vala, who will serve the final game of his two-game suspension tonight for a cross-check against Zack Andrusiak in Kent last Saturday. It required the Silvertips to shuffle their core of defensemen, and push blossoming defenseman Gianni Fairbrother back into key minutes where he was temporarily paired with Wyatte Wylie.
THE TIPS: have just three regulation losses since Jan. 31, and are 22-11-2-2 against the U.S. Division. Tonight is their final divisional game of the regular season, and will face Victoria for the final two games on Friday and Saturday.
THE AMERICANS: are playing pretty good hockey too, lately. They’ve won three in a row to nearly pull away from Seattle for the first wild card spot (five points up with three games left).
This will be strength vs. strength in special teams: the Tips are 1st in the league on the penalty kill (84.3), and the Americans are tied for fifth (25.3).
AUDIO STREAM: Radio (1380 AM) / Tips App, too
ON THE BROADCAST: (pregame at 6:30 pm from Toyota Center)
- Pregame: Bryce Kindopp, Dennis Williams
- 1st Intermission: Matt Fonteyne
- 2nd Intermission: Tips Talk
The Silvertips have a magic number of 3 to clinch the U.S. Division title.
- The Silvertips hold a four-point lead for first place in the Western Conference and U.S. Division with 3 games to play
- The Silvertips have clinched a playoff berth for the 15th straight season, the longest current streak in the WHL and home ice advantage in the opening round.
IF THE PLAYOFFS BEGAN TODAY: The Silvertips would face the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round.
LAST GAME (POR 2 – EVT 0 / 3-11-18): Cole Kehler made 28 saves while Cody Glass furnished a pair of assists to help the Portland Winterhawks hold off the Everett Silvertips, 2-0 before 8,263 fans at Moda Center on Sunday in WHL action. The Silvertips, who had their eight game road win streak (franchise record) snapped with just their third loss in regulation since Jan. 31, poured on 28 shots but came up short on five power play opportunities. Carter Hart kept the Silvertips in the game with a 29 save effort.
TOP 5 TIPS TIDBITS
- TORRID TIPS: The Tips are 41-9-1-3 in the last 57 games and finished 9-1-1-1 in February… they have won 35 of the last 44 games … Garrett Pilon led the Silvertips with 15 points in 12 games during February … they have 4 games of scoring 8 goals or more.
- NOT STANDING PAT: Patrick Bajkov, the leading Tips scorer, set the new Silvertips all-time scoring record with 264 points on Feb. 2, when he surpassed Zach Hamill with a first period power play goal … has twice tied his career high of 5 points … he reached the Silvertips all-time goal scoring record (108) with a goal vs. Kelowna on Mar. 2 … he is a goal or assist away from setting the new Tips single season points record (94).
- RIPPING IT ON THE ROAD: The Silvertips won eight straight games on the road ending Mar. 11, setting a new franchise record on Mar. 10 at Seattle (3-2 win).
- AGAINST THE U.S. DIVISION: The Tips are 22-11-0-1 against opponents from the U.S. Division … tonight’s game is their final matchup against an opponent from the U.S. Division.
- SPECIAL DELIVERIES: For special teams, the Tips penalty kill is 1st in the WHL (84.3) … the Tips power play went 5-of-9 on Jan. 7 vs. Victoria, tying a franchise record for most power play goals in one game (5) … they are 10-of-33 in the last eight games … Connor Dewar and Matt Fonteyne lead the Tips with 15 power play goals.
See you on the radio.