WHL notebook: Silvertips claw way toward top of the league
The Everett Silvertips have been remarkably consistent during the past three Western Hockey League seasons.
That’s not a compliment.
Everett has placed eighth in the 10-team Western Conference every season since 2010-11, never winning more than 28 games.
But those days are over, as the Silvertips (16-4-4-0, 36 points) are tied with Portland for the most points in the 22-team WHL following Tuesday night’s 3-2 win at Kootenay.
The signature victory came Friday night, a 3-2 home decision over defending WHL champion Portland in the first matchup of the year between the two. Portland had defeated the Silvertips 26 times in 30 meetings during the last three seasons.
“Ever since the season started we’ve been looking at this game,” Everett captain Matt Pufahl told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald. “The fans were great, they kept us in it all night, and we just wanted to prove we can play with the top teams in the league.”
The Silvertips won’t get too cocky, however, because they followed the big Portland win with a 3-1 home loss on Saturday against ninth-place Prince George (9-13-1-3).
No loss for words
Russian import Radel Fazleev wasn’t going to let his play do all the talking last Friday night.
Fazleev scored the shootout winner when Calgary snapped a four-game losing streak and ended Swift Current’s nine-game winning streak during a 3-2 decision in Calgary, Alberta.
After the game, Fazleev told translating teammate Pavel Padakin that he would take it from there.
“First of all, I’d like to say thanks to our team,” Fazleev told Scott Fisher of the Calgary Sun. “(Kenton) Helgesen scored the second goal, which got us to overtime. … And I want to say thanks to our coaches because this is our fifth shootout and that was just my second score. … We wanted to win the game so much.”
Around the league
Jordan Papirny is making the most of his opportunities as Brandon’s backup goalie. The 17-year-old has started the Wheat Kings’ last eight games, fashioning a 6-2 record as veteran Curtis Honey nurses an upper-body injury. … After Tuesday’s shootout win at Swift Current, Brandon has its first four-game winning streak of the season. Defenseman Ryan Pulock had two goals and five assists during the first three wins of the streak, leading to his honor as WHL Player of the Week for the week ending Sunday. … Regina’s 3-2 shootout win over Spokane on Saturday capped a 4-2 record for the Pats on their Western Conference road trip. Other teams from Regina’s East Division had much more trouble out West. Swift Current finished 0-5 and Brandon went 1-4. … Brandon acquired highly touted 17-year-old defenseman Ryan Pilon from Lethbridge on Saturday for 19-year-old defenseman Nick Walters and 18-year-old left winger Taylor Cooper. … The Vancouver Giants have won seven of 11 games to move past Prince George into eighth place in the Western Conference, the last spot that will qualify for postseason. Vancouver beat visiting Tri-City 5-2 on Saturday after entering the game with a 2-12-1-1 record against the Americans since the 2009-10 season. Tri-City got revenge Tuesday with a 2-1 overtime win despite being outshot 38-17. Vancouver plays at Spokane today.