Everett played maybe the best first period I've seen the Tips play this season, building a 3-0 lead, then cruised home from there.
Friday night the Tips had plenty of chances against Kamloops, but only won 1-0 as Blazers goaltender Taran Kozun stood on his head, and the Tips consistently missed the net from good scoring positions. Everett was more accurate tonight. I'm sure Joshua Winquist's slap shot for the opener was a relief to both he and the team, as he was one of the main culprits Saturday.
Everett's first period was topped off by a great effort from Manraj Hayer. The Broncos could have had a two-on-one, but Hayer hustled back to break it up. The Tips moved the puck the other way, and eventually got it back into Hayer's path for Everett's third goal. I was happy to see Hayer rewarded as he deserved it following his backcheck.
The victory completed Everett's first three-in-three weekend of the season, and it was a good bounceback for the Tips. Everett didn't play well in its 4-2 loss at Spokane on Friday. But the Tips responded well with the two home victories and remained right in the pack toward the top of the Western Conference at 8-2-2-0.
Austin Lotz started all three games in net for the Tips this weekend, and he didn't seem fatigued at all tonight. He didn't have much to do in the first two periods, but he made two good saves in the third to prevent things from getting interesting. With his performance he regained the league lead in goals against average (1.74) and save percentage (.935) from Spokane's Eric Williams.
It didn't have any effect on the result, but there was a dramatic change at the start of the third period. Everett controlled the first two and held a 26-14 shot advantage (as well as a 4-1 lead). But Everett went defensive in the third period, while the Broncos double shifted their top guys (did Colby Cave, Coda Gordon and Graham Black even come off the ice in the third?), so the puck was primarily in Everett's zone and the Tips got a little scrambly. No goals resulted from it, however.
First star: Winquist. One goal and two assists. All of his points came during that dominating first period as Everett's leading scorer ended a three-game pointless streak.
Second star: Tyler Sandhu, Everett. One goal and one assist. After a slow start he seems to be benefitting from playing on a line with Winquist and Hayer.
Third star: Matt Pufahl, Everett. Two assists, though I don't think he played quite as strong a game as he did Saturday against Kamloops.
The Herald's honorable mention: Julius Honka, Swift Current. One goal. Man, can this kid skate. Very impressed by the draft-eligible defenseman from Finland.
Everett 4, Swift Current 1
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