If there was any doubt about Everett having turned its season around, tonight’s result puts that to rest. The Tips completely bossed the top-ranked team in the entire CHL for 40 minutes, building a 5-0 lead through two periods.
I don’t think anyone saw this kind of result coming. Kelowna had won four straight, nine of its last 10, and had lost in regulation just nine times this season. The Rockets were also 3-0 against the Tips this season, as well as 14-1 against Everett since upsetting the Tips in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, including some ugly one-sided games at Comcast Arena.
But the Tips were worth every bit of their victory tonight. While Everett was at its best, Kelowna was not sharp and didn’t look anything like its usual self as the Tips overwhelmed the Rockets in the first two periods. The Tips were strong on the forecheck, causing Kelowna’s defense to turn the puck over, and Everett’s defensemen were very aggressive about jumping into the play offensively. It was the first time this season anyone beat the Rockets by more than three goals.
Everett is now truly in the race for fifth place in the Western Conference. With 13 points from their past seven games, the Tips have moved within one point of fifth-place Spokane with six games remaining. However, the Chiefs have one game in hand, and Everett has five of its last six on the road, so it will be no easy task for the Tips.
The one black mark on the game for Everett was an injury to key center Kohl Bauml. Bauml went hard into the boards early in the first period, had to be helped off the ice with an apparent leg injury, and did not return. Everett coach Kevin Constantine said he didn’t know the extent of the injury, but that Bauml would be out “probably for a long time.”
Everett was already playing well, but goals 22 seconds apart by Jujhar Khaira and Ben Betker midway through the first period gave the Tips a 2-0 lead to go along with their play.
First star: Joshua Winquist, Everett. Two goals and one assist, welcome to the 40-goal club. Winquist now had 41 goals, just one shy of the franchise single-season record of 42 set by Shane Harper in 2009-10.
Second star: Khaira. One goal and two assists, was a big factor in helping Winquist get to the 40-goal mark.
Third star: Betker. One goal and one assist, an unexpected source of offense from the blue line.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Lots of choices. Austin Lotz was strong in goal in the third when the Tips got a little casual, preventing the game from getting interesting. Stadnyk had a good game offensively. Zane Jones set a physical tone.