No, this game may not have meant anything in the grand scheme of things. And yes, Tri-City had nothing to play for and was missing key players. But maybe — just maybe — this was a sign of things to come in the future for the Tips.
Everett fielded an extremely young lineup, including three 15-year-olds, and the youngsters led the way for the Tips. None moreso than 16-year-old winger Tyler Sandhu, who scored his first career hat trick. Five of Everett’s seven goals — which matched a season high — were scored by 16- or 17-year-olds.
Everett erupted for five goals in the first period. Where in the heck did that come from? Everett hadn’t scored five goals in a period all season. In fact, the Tips hadn’t scored five goals in a game since Jan. 18. Then Everett had to sweat it out late as Tri-City converted its power plays to get close. Part of the issue there was Everett continually rolling its youngsters out on the penalty kill. But Everett has struggled regularly in third periods of late, and that’s something that needs to be addressed for next season, whether it’s conditioning, focus or whatever.
A word about Everett’s 15-year-olds, particularly the two who made their debuts this weekend. Center Matt Fonteyne debuted Saturday against Victoria and played again tonight. Defenseman Noah Juulsen debuted tonight. Both were given regular shifts. Both had big moments, with Fonteyne getting an assist last night and scoring chances tonight, and Juulsen laying out Tri-City’s Malte Stromwall with a big hit. But what I noticed most is that neither had that deer-in-the-headlights look. That’s common for young players in their first WHL games. Even Peter Mueller looked out of sorts in his first game with the Tips. But there was no sign of succumbing to the moment from these two.
One last statistical note involving the 15-year-olds. Joshua Winquist finished as the team plus/minus champion at plus-7. Tied for second? Fonteyne and Kevin Davis both were a plus-3.
I don’t know who gave the pregame talk for the Tips today, but I imagine he has the job permanently now.
First star: Sandhu. Three goals, two on high-speed rebounds as he crashed the net.
Second star: Winquist. Three assists, was the main creator on all three of Sandhu’s goals.
Third star: Stromwall. Two goals, dangerous on the power play.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Manraj Hayer, Everett. Three assists, the other key cog in Sandhu’s hat trick.
YEAR END AWARDS
Most Valuable Players: Joshua Winquist, Landon Oslanski
Rookie of the Year: Mirco Mueller
Unsung Hero: Reid Petryk
Coaches Award: Tyler Sandhu
Most Improved Player: Ben Betker
Iron Man Award: Landon Oslanski
F.I.E.R.C.E. Predator Award: Landon Oslanski
Scholastic Players of the Year: Dawson Leedahl, Micheal Zipp
Community Relations Award: Austin Lotz
Jim Leo Distinguished Service Award: Larry and Sue Hawk