Prior to tonight’s game, Everett coach Kevin Constantine expressed some concern about the layoff. Everett hadn’t played in a week, and there’s often the risk that the long gap between games creates some rust. The Tips seemed particularly vulnerable, considering they previously played a hectic 10 games in 16 days.
It turns out Constantine needn’t have worried. Everett looked sharp, energetic, and was on to of the game throughout. The Tips outshot Saskatoon 39-16, and although I’m not sure the game was quite as one sided as the score and shot totals indicate, there’s no question Everett ha the upper hand.
The sharpness manifested itself most notably on the power play, as the Tips were absolutely lethal, going 5-for-7. Saskatoon was supposed to be the team to worry about on the power play, as the Blades came into the night ranked first in the WHL on the power play. But Everett was clinical, needing 45 seconds or less on four of its advantages. That was a dramatic improvement from the previous eight games, when the Tips were a modest 5-for-28 (17.9 percent) on the power play.
The victory was Everett’s fifth straight. You have to go back a long way to find the Tips’ last five-game winning streak. The last time Everett won five straight was when the Tips won all 14 of their games in January of 2010.
Everett’s first power-play goal sent the Tips on their way. Everett outshot Saskatoon 16-4 in the first period, but it remained scoreless. However, the Tips carried a power play over into the second period, and Joshua Winquist made a great play to set up Ivan Nikolishin for an easy put away at 1:01. Scoring on that power play took the sting out of getting nothing in the first period.
First star: Matt Pufahl, Everett. Two goals and one assist, an excellent showing against his former team.
Second star: Winquist. Three assists, the franchise record scoring streak was extended to 17 games.
Third star: Nikolishin. One goal and two assists, also drew penalties.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Nikita Scherbak, Saskatoon. One goal, in fact all of Saskatoon’s top line (Scherbak, Nathan Burns, Collin Valcourt) was impressive. Austin Lotz may have been required to make just 15 saves in goal for Everett, but most of those had a high degree of difficulty because of this trio.