While a Western Hockey League championship has proved to be elusive, the Everett Silvertips have solidified themselves as the team to beat in the U.S. Division.
The Silvertips put together a 19-4-0-0 mark over a 23-game schedule on their way to capturing their fifth division crown in seven years and officially celebrated their accomplishment on Friday with a 5-1 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in their home finale.
They wrapped up the regular season on a four-game win streak and a 4-1 road triumph over the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday.
“This was obviously our goal during this shortened season and with there being no playoffs,” Silvertips overage defenceman and Montreal Canadiens prospect Gianni Fairbrother said in an interview. “With only having a two week training camp and not being on the ice together all that long, it feels good to have this accomplishment.”
“Every other year, you’d have around a month-and-a-half to prepare for the next season before the first game, so it was a pretty quick process and a grind for everyone,” Silvertips overage forward Cole Fonstad added. “We got put through the paces right away and everyone bought in to what we wanted to do here.”
Fonstad, who started his WHL career with the Prince Albert Raiders before being dealt for Reece Vitelli in October 2019, posted 34 points in his final season and finished in a tie for the team scoring lead with Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Gage Goncalves.
The duo was also tied with Vancouver Giants forward Justin Sourdif for third place in points among all WHL skaters heading into the final day of play in the B.C. Division on Wednesday night.
“Cole’s compete level is as high as anybody and he has such a professional approach to the game,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said of Fonstad, who was a co-captain with Fairbrother this year.
“He’s able to do things on the ice that I haven’t seen done in the four years I’ve been here. He makes his teammates around better, which is an unbelievable quality to have.”
Fonstad was rewarded for his effort on Tuesday as he earned an amateur tryout contract with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, who are an affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The other overager on the team this year was forward Ethan Regnier of Prince Albert, who had 21 points in 23 games was tied for third in team scoring with Jackson Berezowski.
“This year was definitely different as we lived the dorm life,” Regnier said. “You were around your teammates all of the time and I’ll definitely miss going to the rink with them, messing around with them and doing everything with them from sunup to sundown.”
“I knew a little bit about Ethan when we acquired from Swift Current last January, but I didn’t know about his strong off-ice attributes and his character,” Williams added. “He’s a remarkable young man and I’ve very thankful to have had the chance to coach him.”
Another key player in the Silvertips’ success was netminder Dustin Wolf, who is the defending WHL and CHL goaltender of the year.
The 20-year-old posted an 18-3-0 record with an 1.80 goals against average, a .940 save percentage and four shutouts in what’s expected to be his final campaign in the league before he starts his pro career in the Calgary Flames system.
U.S. Division Standings
- Everett Silvertips – 38 points (19-4-0-0)
- Portland Winterhawks – 29 points (13-8-3-0)
- Seattle Thunderbirds – 21 points (10-12-0-1)
- Spokane Chiefs – 17 points (6-10-4-1)
- Tri-City Americans – 14 points (7-12-0)
Stat Leaders (League Leader if not from the U.S. Division)
- Goals: Adam Beckman (Spokane) and Keltie Jeri-Leon (Seattle) – 17 (Lynden McCallum (Brandon) – 21)
- Assists: Gage Goncalves (Everett) – 22 (Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg) – 30)
- Points: Cole Fonstad (Everett) and Gage Goncalves (Everett) – 34 (Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg) – 43)
- Defensive Scoring: Nick Cicek (Portland) – 22 (Cole Clayton (Medicine Hat) – 30)
- Rookie Scoring: Blake Swetlikoff (Spokane) and Jordan Gustafson (Seattle) – 11 (Connor Bedard (Regina) – 28)
- Plus/Minus: Ronan Seeley (Everett) – 18 (Jake Neighbours (Edmonton) – 29)
- Penalty Minutes: Nick Cicek (Portland) – 46 (Justin Nachbaur (Prince Albert) – 62)
- Power Play Goals: Adam Beckman (Spokane) – 7 (Lynden McCallum (Brandon) – 9)
- Power Play Assists: Jaydon Dureau (Portland) – 9 (Alex Cotton (Lethbridge) – 16)
- Game Winning Goals: Gabe Klassen (Portland), Adam Beckman (Spokane), Cole Fonstad (Everett), Jacob Wright (Everett) and Reece Newkirk (Portland) – 3 (Mark Liwiski (Kelowna), Corson Hopwo (Medicine Hat), Ben McCartney (Brandon) and Jakin Smallwood (Winnipeg) – 4)
- Short Handed Goals: Simon Knak (Portland) – 3 (Ridly Greig (Brandon) – 4)
- Short Handed Assists: Nick Cicek (Portland) – 2 (Ben McCartney (Brandon) and Justin Sourdif (Vancouver) – 3)
- Overtime Goals: Cole Fonstad (Everett) and Samuel Huo (Tri-City) – 2 (Braden Schneider (Brandon) – 2)
- Points Per Game: Cole Fonstad (Everett) and Gage Goncalves (Everett) – 1.48 (Dylan Guenther (Edmonton) – 2.00)
- Shutouts: Dustin Wolf (Everett) – 4 (Trent Miner (Vancouver) and Sebastian Cossa (Edmonton) – 4)
- Goals Against Average: Dustin Wolf (Everett) – 1.80 (Sebastian Cossa (Edmonton) – 1.57)
- Rookie Goals Against Average: Thomas Millic (Seattle) – 2.74 (Colby Knight (Edmonton) – 2.25)
- Save Percentage: Dustin Wolf (Everett) – .940 (Sebastian Cossa (Edmonton) – .941)
- Wins: Dustin Wolf (Everett) – 18
- Goals For: Portland Winterhawks – 96 (Edmonton Oil Kings and Brandon Wheat Kings – 104)
- Goals Against: Everett Silvertips – 45 (Edmonton Oil Kings – 41)
- Penalty Minutes: Seattle Thunderbirds – 285 (Prince Albert Raiders – 369)
- Power Play Percentage: Spokane Chiefs – 26.0 (Medicine Hat Tigers – 37.0)
- Power Play Goals: Portland Winterhawks – 23 (Brandon Wheat Kings – 38)
- Penalty Kill Percentage: Everett Silvertips – 88.4
- Short Handed Goals: Portland Winterhawks – 6 (Brandon Wheat Kings – 7)
- Goals: Adam Beckman (Spokane) – 6 games (7 goals) (Corson Hopwo (Medicine Hat) – 8 games (9 goals))
- Assists: Jackson Berezowski (Everett) – 8 games (9 assists) (Jake Neighbours (Edmonton) – 11 games (15 assists) and Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg) – 11 games (18 assists))
- Points: Cole Fonstad (Everett) – 12 games (21 points) (Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg) – 23 games (43 points))
- Wins: Everett Silvertips – 6 (Edmonton Oil Kings – 9)
- Losses: Spokane Chiefs – 7 (Red Deer Rebels – 13)