The most important number from this game for me was this: 53-23. That was Everett’s shot advantage in the game. Portland played without eight of its top 10 players, including the electric duo of Brendan Leipsic and Nicolas Petan. If Everett is to have any hope of competing with Portland this season, the Tips have to be able to control the puck against the Winterhawks B team. Well, that’s exactly what they did tonight. I’ve seen Everett on the other side of that kind of shot discrepancy many times against Portland the past three seasons, so it was weird to see those numbers reversed.
Joshua Winquist led the way by scoring a hat trick for Everett, which twice dug out from two-goal deficits during a wild seven-goal second period. It was Winquist’s second preseason hat trick, the other coming two years ago against Seattle. Afterward he joked about being a preseason specialist, but the skillful overager looks poised for a big season.
The only thing that kept the Winterhawks in it was special teams efficiency. Portland was 2-for-3 on the power play and also scored a shorty, while the Tips were 1-for-9 on the advantage. But that 1-for-9 is deceiving. Everett was so much better on the power play tonight than in Saturday’s game against Spokane, creating all kinds of chances. A big part of that was the contributions by Ivan Nikolishin and Kohl Bauml. Those two didn’t light up the scoresheet, but their ability to control the puck and find passing lanes on the power play made all the difference.
Everett finished a perfect 3-0 at its preseason tournament. Next up is the Tri-City Preseason Tournament next weekend, when the Tips face Portland again, followed by Kootenay. All of the players who are heading to NHL rookie camps (forwards Reid Petryk, Jujhar Khaira and Linden Penner, defensmen Ben Betker and Mirco Mueller, and goaltender Austin Lotz) will be gone for those games.
Lastly, a thought about the roster. Everett has 30 players remaining on the roster. The team probably wants to get down to about 24. In past years when it’s reached this point I’ve usually had a pretty good idea how things would shake out, with some cuts that were seemingly apparent. This year I have no idea what’s going to happen. An argument can be made for every single player still on the roster.
It’s remarkable how many times the game turned during the second period. But the one that turned out to be the most important came late in the second period. Portland had scored twice in two minutes to take a 4-2 lead. But Everett’s Manraj Hayer intercepted a Portland outlet pass and feathered the puck into Winquist’s path for Winquist to score and get momentum back on the Tips’ side again, and Waltteri Hopponen scored on a two-on-one just 1:22 later to tie it.