Everything You Know About the Silvertips Offense is Wrong.

At 10-5-0-1, the Everett Silvertips aren’t just gaining attention for an NHL experienced head coach and a couple of blue chippers.

They have conversation, and it goes something like this:

  • “They play the right way.”
  • “They are tough to play against.”
  • “They work hard.”

So it comes to no surprise that by allowing a little over two goals per game, second lowest in the league, the task of getting puck into high-grade scoring territory (let alone one past Carter Hart) seems as easy as continuously attempting to paddle board through a tidal wave.

It will flush you, eventually, and it will frustrate you.

Ask the WHL’s leading goal scorer, Jon Martin, about tonight (bye bye, six-game road scoring streak).

But now, they can score too.

Nine goals in the last two games: pinned on Spokane and Swift Current. And it’s not like one line (or player) teed off with a hot streak. Remi Laurencelle had 3 goals. Devon Skoleski had a multi point game tonight. Carson Stadnyk and Dawson Leedahl (one night after being a “good team player” and spotting in a defenseman role) had multi point games tonight. Jake Christiansen had his first career WHL goal (while he and Tristen Pfeifer have noticeably become more comfortable as a pair).

It’s as spread around as it gets.

Not to get too far ahead – but now, the Tips are developing with elements necessary for postseason success. Case in point:

  • Winning tight games (7-2-0-1 combined in 1-goal, and 2-goal games)
  • Goaltending (do we need to rehash Hart’s unconscious numbers?)
  • Special teams (6th in WHL power play – 21.8 percent)

“Buy in” is not a problem. Just listen to what Kevin Constantine said, Mark Lamb said, and what we (postgame replay) said after Saturday night.

LISTEN: Postgame audio vs Swift Current (Silvertips website) 
WATCH: Game highlights 

The Silvertips Did So Many Things Right and Then Some, Friday Night.

By the numbers last night, where the Silvertips exorcised a few demons:

  • 5 goals: most since Oct. 11 vs. Prince Albert (9 of the last 10 games they had less than 3 goals)
  • Lead after one period: first time since Nov. 1 at Portland (just the third time this season – now 2-0-1 in that dept.)
  • Remi Laurencelle goal: his first since Oct. 10 – broke a nine game goal-scoring drought
  • Dario Winkler assist (a rocket feed to Kevin Davis, stationed at the point): broke a five-game scoring drought

Of course, we can’t leave out other important facts, like limiting shots (second time this season, under 20), scoring the first goal of the game (thanks Graham Millar – that’s now 7 of the last 9 games for the Tips), and a dash of Carter Hart. Two goals allowed isn’t exactly invincible status, but both were scored on the power play (one on a two-man advantage). His numbers since Oct. 23: 5-3-1, 1.43 GAA, .946 save percentage.

Last night’s audio below.

LISTEN: Prospect Nick Henry – 1st intermission 

LISTEN: Kevin Constantine pregame 

LISTEN: Silvertips Replay 

TONIGHT: Jon Martin and the Swift Current Broncos, for the first and only meeting of the season. We would be drumming the humongous prospect battle between Noah Juulsen and Jake DeBrusk for many Habs/Bruins rivalry games to come, but DeBrusk didn’t suit up last night, and has been ruled out indefinitely after suffering a lower body injury whilst blocking a shot, Nov. 4. He just had surgery.

Martin will still command plenty of attention. He exploded after a trade from Kootenay to emerge tied for second in league scoring with 35 points in 19 games. That’ll draw some pro scout eyeballs.

ON AIR: 6:30pm

LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports 1380 

GUESTS: Kevin Constantine (pregame), Jake Christiansen (pregame), Remi Laurencelle (pregame), Noah Juulsen (1st intermission) 

UPDATE: Cole MacDonald is in (6:26PM)!

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP

The Silvertips end a stretch of back-to-back games at home tonight, hosting the Swift Current Broncos in the only meeting of the season between the two teams. Fans in attendance can participate in the “Movemberfest” promotion, offering opportunities to support the Silvertips in their fundraising for men’s health during the month of November, associated with moustache growth. The Silvertips carry an all-time record of 8-4-0 against Swift Current, last meeting on Jan. 10, 2015 in a 3-1 victory. The Silvertips are playing in their third game this season against an East Division opponent (1-0-0-1 record).

HEAD-TO-HEAD: HOLD YOUR HORSES

Saturday’s game is the first meeting between the Silvertips and Broncos at XFINITY Arena since Oct. 20, 2013 (the Silvertips defeated Swift Current, 4-1), the 13th meeting since the series began in 2003-04. The Silvertips are 8-4-0 in the series but have won eight of the last 10 head-to-head meetings, outscoring the Broncos 34-21 in the series. Swift Current reached the postseason last year with a record of 34-33-1-4 and returning forward Jake DeBrusk (missing since Nov. 4 due to injury) – a first round selection (14th overall) of the Boston Bruins in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft – was signed by Boston this week to an entry level contract. Broncos general manager and head coach Mark Lamb skated in 403 career NHL games as a defenseman, won a Stanley Cup with Edmonton in 1990, and has seven seasons with assistant coach experience in the NHL.

SILVERTIPS HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD: 8-4-0-0 (overall), 2-3-0-0 (home)  

LAST SILVERTIPS HOME WIN: 10/20/13, 4-1 victory (Josh Winquist, 1g-2a; Ivan Nikolishin, GWG)  

LAST MEETING: 1/10/15, 3-1 victory (Noah Juulsen, GWG; Carter Hart, 28 saves)

LAST 3 GAMES:

EVT 5 – SPO 2 (11/13/15): Linemates Matt Fonteyne and Patrick Bajkov each collected a pair of points while goaltender Carter Hart turned in 15 saves, helping the Everett Silvertips cruise past the Spokane Chiefs in a 5-2 victory before 4,022 fans at XFINITY Arena on Friday night. The Silvertips, exacting revenge on Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat, improved to 2-1-0-0 in the series and 6-2-0-1 on the home schedule, welcoming assistant coach Mitch Love (gold medal at the Under-17 challenge), defenseman Noah Juulsen and goaltender Carter Hart (Canada-Russia series) back for their first home game from success with Hockey Canada. The Silvertips never trailed in the game and ran away with three unanswered goals in the final period.

 

SPO 3 – EVT 0 (11/11/15): Lasse Petersen earned a 24-save shutout in his debut, helping the Spokane Chiefs get by the Everett Silvertips, 3-0 at Spokane Arena on Wednesday night. The Silvertips (8-5-1-1) had their three-game win streak come to an end, backed by Carter Hart’s 29 saves after his return at 5:00 p.m. to Spokane Arena from the Canada vs. Russia Series. The Silvertips, without Noah Juulsen in the lineup (rest), were shut out for the second time this season and fell to 1-1-0-0 in the series.

 

EVT 3 – VAN 2 (11/7/15): Patrick Bajkov scored a goal, added a pair of assists and the Everett Silvertips pounded the Vancouver Giants for three goals in the second period for a 3-2 victory before 5,208 fans at XFINITY Arena on Saturday. By winning their third in a row, the Silvertips (8-4-0-1, 17 points) kept pace behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, four points off the U.S. Division leads (Everett has four games in hand). The Silvertips busted a power play drought of three games, scoring on both chsances while limiting Vancouver’s man advantage to an 0-of-2 clip. Matt Fonteyne added a goal and an assist, while Carter Hart turned in a 31 save effort.

 

LOVE CONQUERS ALL, AND WITH TEAM CANADA

Silvertips assistant coach Mitch Love returned to the Everett bench this week after helping capture the gold medal for Hockey Canada as assistant coach for the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Oct. 30-Nov. 7 in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C. Love worked with high-ranked players born in 1999 or later, eligible to compete for Canada with the National Men’s U-18 Team, National Junior Team and National Men’s Team.

MORE TIPS, MORE TEAM CANADA

Goaltender Carter Hart (draft eligible in 2016) and defenseman Noah Juulsen (first round selection of Montreal, 2015) represented the Tips and the WHL for Hockey Canada in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series, which got underway Monday in Kelowna with Juulsen (goal) and Hart (six saves) contributing in a 7-3 victory over Russia. Hart and Juulsen (+3 in Tuesday’s game at Kamloops) competed along with seven additional first round selections of the NHL Entry Draft.

MILESTONE TRACKER

  • Dawson Leedahl is 11 games away from 100 in his WHL and Silvertips career
  • Patrick Bajkov is 25 points away from 100 in his WHL career

STUCKY CELEBRATES A MILESTONE:

Silvertips equipment manager James Stucky worked the 1,500th game in his career on Oct. 28 vs. Brandon. The native of Burien, Wash. has served the Silvertips in his capacity since the inception of the franchise in 2003, having previously worked in the American Hockey League with Cincinnati, in the IHL with Indianapolis and in the CHL with Memphis from 1995-2003. He was honored last Friday night with a pre-game ceremonial puck drop.

UNDER LOCK AND KEY

The Silvertips defense ranks second in the WHL with 2.2 goals allowed per game … Everett has allowed two goals or less in 11 of the first 15 games … the Silvertips are the only team to earn a shutout against Seattle this season … the Silvertips have allowed just five goals in the first period, fewest in the WHL … Everett’s 29.0 shots allowed per game are fifth in the WHL … the Silvertips are 7-2-0-0 when tied after one period

 

HART OF STONE

Silvertips goaltender Carter Hart, entering his second full season of play in the WHL, ranks among the league’s leader in several goaltending categories since beginning his career with the Silvertips. Entering tonight, Hart is the leader in WHL goals-against-average for the last two seasons.

WHL GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE LEADERS*, SINCE START OF 2014-15 SEASON:

RANK PLAYER TEAM GAA SV W L OTL SOL
1 Carter Hart EVT 2.29 1642 34 15 0 5
2 Jake Morrissey VAN 2.45 398 8 4 0 0
3 Taran Kozun SEA 2.50 1847 35 21 0 5
4 Jackson Whistle KEL 2.53 2342 58 15 0 6
Logan Flodell SEA 2.53 576 11 7 0 1

* Minimum 500 minutes played

Bridging the Gap: Ugly, Bounces, and the Giants

Kevin Davis’ OT winner, a bouncer off the paraphernalia of Brad Morrison, represents back-to-back wins, Davis’ first goal since January, and the continuous criteria needed for breaking out of a funk:

Get pucks to the net, and good things will happen.

There was some residue from the nightmarish battles with Adin Hill, and like the previous few games against the Winterhawks, a haunting narrative continued to cloud Friday’s game: battle level high, shots high, results low. The Silvertips couldn’t do much more than outshooting Prince George, 38-24. But maybe they needed a dress rehearsal (see: Leedahl’s overturned 2nd period goal) to finally get things going in the right direction.

LISTEN: Game audio vs. Prince George

Takeaways:
1. Some guy named Hart. Not much more you can ask for out of a guy playing at a level of “incredible.” The totals, last 6 games: 3-2-1, 1.15 GAA, .956 save percentage.

2. At first of you don’t succeed … go back to your original blueprint. The Leedahl-Fonteyne-Stadnyk experiment lasted for about 35 minutes, whereupon #17 and #13 returned to their original top-six pivot battle stations. After that: Leedahl nets a 1-0 lead, and Laurencelle turns in an assist on the game-winning goal.

3. Uglier than pond scum … if you can connect three consecutive passes in one shift tonight, call it a win. The Tips had to grind this thing out, rely on Carter Hart and lean on opportunity. Things went the right way. It’s needed tonic for the offensively-starved.

Onto the Vancouver Giants. Quick turnaround for all of us, so we’ll let you rely on this post to follow along. Al Kinisky and I have the call beginning at 6:30pm. You can listen below (FOX Sports 1380). It’ll be the first meeting of the season against the Giants, who have obviously seen better days, and are still struggling after a flurry of trades. The Tips won all 3 games at XFINITY Arena in the series last year, outscoring the Giants 14-1.

LISTEN LIVE: Saturday’s broadcast (FOX Sports 1380) 

Pressroom meal: Chicken cordon bleu, garlic bread, steamed vegetables, dessert platter (I plead the fifth).

Lasting image: have you hugged your goaltender today?

POSTGAME: 11/1 at Portland (2-1 win)

When it comes to hockey, there’s almost nothing like drama, and the sheer willpower to own it in the last minute of regulation.

Cole MacDonald owned that tonight like Ari Gold overtaking a boardroom in a scene from “Entourage.”

LISTEN: Postgame | Silvertips 2 – Portland 1 (11-1-15) 

Three takeaways:

  1. Carter Hart set the table (23 saves). He had to be good, again. He provided every reason for the Tips to be mentally perseverant with Adin Hill appearing to not give an inch, again. One diving save in the first period, and another nifty stop on Paul Bittner’s forceful move to the net were among the highlights. Despite a 2-2-1 record in four games, Hart’s got a 1.20 GAA and .956 save percentage. Goodness. Hill’s numbers were similar in a staggering manner. The last nine days, including three matchups with these guys, provided authentic, keeping-it-real, “knockdown/drag-out” style goaltending duels. NHL teams, take note. What a spectacle.
  2. When it rains, it pours. The offense is coming. It’s one thing to say you can’t score goals, but it’s another thing to not score goals and exert any effort. The Tips have pumped 68 shots on net in the last two games, but have just 3 goals to show against a guy who only took CHL Goaltender of the Week honors and has three shutouts this year. Oh, and he’s 6-foot-4, playing with a semi-truck load of confidence. The Adin Hill workout is done with until Dec. 9. Should the effort continue, the offense will turn the corner.
  3. Turning point of the season? For teams struggling or treading water to begin the season, along come wins that define a “new beginning.” Consider tonight: up 1-0 after two periods (like Friday). Allowing a 1-1 in the third period (like Friday). Drawing a late penalty kill (like Friday). This time, the puck goes in for them in the time of high drama (53.1 seconds left, unlike Friday). Tonight, the tables were turned, and the Tips deserved a jovial bus ride home, up I-5.

LASTING IMAGE: Everyone helps take care of the job.

Postgame: 10/30 vs. Portland

Below, your audio archive from tonight’s broadcast.

LISTEN: Pregame, intermission segments vs. Portland (10/30) 

If you care to rehash with us in our postgame segment, it’ll be available by Sunday – we’re making progress with conquering technical issues (I guess that leaves us admitting a tough one, on and off the ice) related to uploading the beloved mp3 file.

Tonight was a toughie to swallow. The takeaways:

  1. Credit due to Portland. There’s arguably not a hotter goalie in the CHL than Adin Hill at this point, and the Tips had scratch and claw for just one goal tonight. In Portland’s five-game win streak (Hill’s played every minute), he’s got a microscopic 1.40 GAA and .966 save percentage. He had to be at the top of his game to get a win with 38 saves.
  2. This game was decided on special teams. Yes, the Tips had a 1-0 lead after two periods. And yes, it’s a tad disconcerting they’ve fallen short of seizing two points for the second straight game, when holding a lead with 20 minutes to go. But when you have six power plays, including a five-on-three lasting longer than the time it takes to microwave leftovers, you better cash in. Portland got out of the woods, and made the most on their late-game opportunity.
  3. Remember the old saying, “Together Everyone Achieves More (T.E.A.M.)”? We’re realizing that this season will showcase wins full of grit, grisle, elbow grease and the like. Scores of 3-2 and 2-1 will (and really, should) be the norm. My recollection of the second period illustrates the Silvertips rolling four lines and attacking Portland like a pack of wolves – anyone in a white jersey had very little space on the ice to operate, and anyone in a white jersey with the puck was immediately greeted with a green sheath. Everything, once in the Portland zone, was rocketed toward Hill. It’s a simplistic concept. But it needs to be the Silvertips maxim for the entire year. Defense, grit, and a dash of Carter Hart.

Off-day on Saturday (first time I can partake in Halloween as “Dad” – beware of impending, self-incriminating photo), and back for another swing at the piñata on Sunday.

PRESS MEAL: Fried chicken, cole slaw, tater tots, chicken fingers.

LASTING IMAGE: Sometimes to beat a hot goalie, you have to reach higher. Remi Laurencelle seems to have the right idea.

Postgame: 10/28 vs. Brandon (3-2 shootout loss)

NHL stars, Mitch Love dipping into the Hockey Canada waters, and more in the pregame chat – give the Silvertips credit, who handled the Brandon Wheat Kings just fine with respects to the end of their road trip (paraphrasing Kevin Constantine as a horse getting a second wind for the final stretch of a road trip).

LISTEN: Kevin Constantine pregame (10/28 vs Brandon)
VIDEO: Highlights vs. Brandon (Radio – FOX Sports 1380) 

Three takeaways from last night:

  1. Carter Hart – it shouldn’t be surprising he’s performing at an incredible level. What should be noted is his astonishing level of play against the quality of competition.

His last three games weren’t slouch opponent material: Portland, Seattle, and Brandon. Those three teams have combined for a 23-11-1-2 record. One team (Seattle) has won seven of the last eight games. One team (Brandon) logged 50 wins last season, captured the Eastern Conference title, and leads the league with 60 goals (they’re only second in goal differential at +22 because Lethbridge cruised by the Vancouver Giants, 5-2 last night). And one team, named the Winterhawks, have begun to find a rhythm with four straight wins.

Hart’s stat line in those three games: .969 save percentage, 1 shutout, 0.98 goals-against-average. He’s the only goaltender this season to completely shut the valve against the T-Birds for 60 minutes.

  1. Brandon’s as loaded as advertised. Provorov, Hawryluk, Quennenville, Bukarts**, Patrick, etc. are as close as it gets to a murderer’s row. Juulsen vs. Provorov could be a blueline battle we’ll marvel at for years to come, as soon as they settle into NHL roles. It should come to no surprise with the amount of scouts and Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin electing to take in last night’s game at Xfinity Arena. Al Kinisky and I marveled at the Wheat Kings’ quality of managing the puck, near big league level. Not many passes missed the tape. At a few junctures of last night’s game, the Silvertips had “weather the proverbial storm” with lengthy shifts spent in their own zone. They never trailed the Wheat Kings, led as much as 2-0 and allowed just one power play. That speaks volumes to the “battle level” from the boys in green. They’ve taken three of four points against serious East Division competition – Brandon and Prince Albert.
  1. Dario Winkler… Last night will get you noticed in a hurry. It took awhile for him to find a rhythm, handling second line duty with Matt Fonteyne and Patrick Bajkov. But as the old saying goes, “good things happen when you go to the net.” He did so, and was rewarded with a finish in his Silvertips debut after Cole MacDonald’s perfectly executed tape-to-tape pass. If he can continue finding chemistry with last night’s linemates, it opens a new offensive dynamic with Winkler carrying a right-handed shot on the left side.

** UPDATE: Bukarts was just traded to the Portland Winterhawks for two conditional third round picks in the WHL Bantam Draft. We’ll be seeing more of him, starting Friday. Wheat Kings radio voice Bruce Luebke has more on the situation, alleviating a potential overage glut with the impending return of Tim McGauley.

PRESS MEAL: Caesar salad, grilled chicken breasts, baked beans, corn on the cob, brownie and cookie platter.

LASTING IMAGE (see above): Welcome to Silvertip Country, Dario Winkler.

Postgame: 10/24 vs. Seattle (2-0 win)

LISTEN: SILVERTIPS REPLAY: 10/24 vs. Seattle (FOX Sports 1380)

Three takeaways:

  1. Connor Dewar had a range from “good” to “epic” every time he stepped on the ice. One goal, one assist, and several cases of chaos should make a pretty good case for a rookie forward to stick around. Keep in mind, he was just signed a few weeks before the start of the season. At 16 years old. I remember how much GM Garry Davidson was glowing when Dewar’s contract ink dried. “We got a good one,” he smiled. He’s right. If not for Carter Hart putting up a shutout, he would have been first star of the game.
  2. Speaking of Hart, we witnessed more typical Carter Hart “looks like he’ll stop anything from vulcanized rubber to burning rubber” play. In simple terms, he was phenomenal. He smothered or deflected pucks with ease, rarely was caught scrambling, and gave the Silvertips another layer of confidence with play in their own end. We’re witnessing the genesis of a pretty special talent.
  3. It was my first time seeing the Thunderbirds in regular season game action, and the one sequence that caught my eye with their talent was the rapid-fire puck movement – nearly NHL quality – on their second period power play. Barzal, Gropp, Kolesar and Bear know how to whip it around. It’s a testimony on how tenacious the Tips had to be in Saturday’s shutdown effort, and how much they really have to bring it, every matchup with Seattle this season. Perhaps, it brings out the best. Why would you ask for anything else in this rivalry?

PRESS MEAL: Fajita bar, chicken, churros (gotta save room).

LASTING IMAGE: Over 7,000 in the house tonight for a great cause. Pink the Rink generated a lot of support, a ton of the feels, and an electric atmosphere right from the opening face-off (stick-tap to Chris Mast for the amazing shot above, among the best hockey photogs in this biz).

POSTGAME: 10/23 vs. Portland (2-0 loss)

LISTEN: SILVERTIPS REPLAY: 10/23 vs Portland (1520 AM KKXA)

Three takeaways:

  1. This was going to be a low-scoring game, and we knew it. Playing just four times in 26 days makes it tough on anybody trying to get into a rhythm, and it’s almost like trying to start your car after sitting idle in frigid temperatures for a week. Credit the Tips for owning an early advantage, and credit Adin Hill: he was remarkable. He had to be, to outduel a guy like Carter Hart, who was solid.
  2. Face-offs aren’t tracked publicly on the WHL site, and usually we obtain this information via “inside sources.” It’ll be interesting to see who had the best numbers tomorrow morning, as these often play into decisions with end-zone face-offs. The Silvertips, arguably, won the biggest of the night – the draw in the Portland zone to begin the 6-on-5 sequence. It began a period of 90-seconds of mayhem in the Winterhawks zone, where the Silvertips earned several decent looks.
  3. Now that we have that “layoff” thing out of the way (thank goodness), the Silvertips can finally get the engine warm with systems on a game-to-game basis without the redundancy of simulating game action in practice. Tonight was about “outworking” your opponent (Kevin Constantine referenced a remix of Portland’s speed game, dashed with grit). Tomorrow night, it’ll be a battle to control tempo against Seattle’s high-octane forward bunch.