Franchise playoff history:
2018 Western Conference Final: Everett won 4-2.
2012 1st round: Tri-City won 4-0.
2009 1st round: Tri-City won 4-1.
2006 1st round: Everett won 4-1.
Everett went 5-3 against Tri-City, winning the last three contests. Of those last three victories, two were shutouts thanks to goalie Dustin Wolf. Tri-City went 2-2 at home in Kennewick against Everett, while the Silvertips took three of four at home against the Americans.
Tri-City netminder Beck Warm played all eight games against the ‘Tips, facing 55 shots once and 65 another. Overall he gave up 19 goals in the eight contests on an incredible 324 shots for a 0.941 save percentage. Like eh did much of the season, he held them in games that they were getting grossly outshot.
-Everett – It seems to be the same story every season lately. The Everett Silvertips are overlooked in the U.S. Division (none of us at DN picked them to take the division) and they end up with the best record and are primed for a run in the post-season.
Just like in previous seasons, they got some big time output from players overlooked by NHL Central Scouting like forward Bryce Kindopp (39G-34A-73 pts) and defenseman Jake Christiansen (12G-32A-46 pts) and behind a strong defensive group, they got lights out netminding.
Leading the way for the Sivlertips, as expected was “The Pitbull” Connor Dewar. He carried the way with 81 points in 59 games and between him and Dewar they had 18 game-winning goals.
The Silvertips added a scoring dynamo from a rival at the trade deadline, bringing in Zack Andrusiak and his 25 points in 29 games with Everett helped offset the loss of number one center Riley Sutter for the second half of the season.
Everett also added some post-season experience in Swift Current Broncos overage d-men Artyom Minulin and Sahvan Khaira and forward Max Patterson and Regina Pats forward Robbie Holmes. Not only have they all played in the Memorial Cup, they all bring size to the table.
Overall though, their MVP was Wolf who led WHL goalies in most categories and took home the top honor for Western Conference netminders from us here at DN.
-Tri-City –Just like their counterparts, the best player for the Americans in 2018-19 was their goalie. Warm consistently bailed them out of situations where their opponents had the run of play and they won a large number of close games because of his timely saves.
Offensively the Americans had to overcome the loss of Michael Rasmussen to the NHL at 19 and the sudden departure of Isaac Johnson.
Parker AuCoin piled up 84 points o lead the way,19-year-old, Anaheim Ducks draft pick Kyle Olson added 70 and another overage in Nolan Yremko pitched in 66 points to lead the way.
NHL draft eligible forwards Sasha Mutala and Connor Bouchard give them some young play makers and first-year import Krystof Hrabik adds some depth scoring.
Defensively the additions of former WHL champion Aaron Hyman and Calgary Hitmen Dom Schmiemann helped make up for the loss to the pro ranks of so many minutes from last year’s star-studded blue line.
The Americans under new head coach Kelly Buchberger played a tight system that relied upon Warm and timely goals en route to 34 wins and the first wild card seed.
Storylines to watch:
-The health of Riley Sutter is the biggest thing to watch to start the playoffs. Simply put the Silvertips will struggle to get by anyone if they are without their number one guy in the middle. Without him, teams will be able to concentrate on Dewar, Andrusiak and Kindopp and they will be stuck in low scoring games where a team like the Americans can beat them.
Another thing to watch is just how many shots Warm has to face and whether he can hold up under the onslaught, keeping the Americans close. He made a franchise-record in saves this season and faced more shots than any other WHL goalies.
Lastly, Everett will be riding their 17-year-old goalie this post-season and that is not something teams are usually too comfortable doing. The stress and rigors of the playoffs are usually thought to be too much. Just how much Wolf is able to bounce back form bad moments or bad games will effect this and any future series for Everett.
How they match up:
-There were just that many goals in the eight games between the two teams. Both seem built to not necessarily overwhelm you on the scoreboard, but instead clamp down, get in on the forecheck and wear you down over a series.
Both teams have the ability to put together a pretty goal or two but for the most part they will try to redirect a point shot or catch you sleeping.
Everett should have Sutter back and that will help them to the depth advantage, by moving the other centers down a line. He and Dewar were part of a line last spring that not only shut down the other team’s top line, but put goals up as well. This team may not have quite the depth that last year’s did, but getting Sutter back takes them much closer.
It seems clear Warm will be tested early and often and for the Americans to have a chance, they need to stay disciplined, not get short handed and take advantage of any opportunities they get. They have the players to give Everett a run and with the big and physical lineup they had, this is a series that the winner may just be the one who can overcome the tough checking and score a big goal in a one-goal game.
DubNetwork prediction: Silvertips in five games.