After Everett general manager Gary Davidson dismissed coach Mark Ferner on Tuesday, he promised a more offensive style of hockey. However, he cautioned that the transformation wouldn’t happen overnight.
Well, apparently he was wrong.
A completely different Everett team showed up to the rink tonight. This was a team that was aggressive offensively, with everyone looking to make plays. It resulted in seven goals, which was the most Everett has scored in a game this season. Quite the contrast from a team that was averaging 2.4 per contest coming in, and honestly it was a lot of fun to watch. It was certainly a statement made by the Tips in their first game since the coaching change.
It isn’t always going to work this well. Victoria was the first team to play Everett since the coaching change and the Royals didn’t know what to expect. Opponents will be better prepared for the Tips in the future — and I shudder at what could happen Saturday if the Tips decide to trade scoring chances with high-flying Portland. Nevertheless, it promises to be an interesting final two months of the season.
Besides the style change, some of the immediate differences I noticed tonight included using Ty Mappin at one of the points on the power play, and a greater use of third- and fourth-line forwards on the penalty kill. It appears the youngsters are going to be given every opportunity to prove themselves going forward.
We also received our first look at new defenseman Ayrton Nikkel. With the exception of one moment, when he was undressed by former Silvertip Trent Lofthouse for a goal, he played a real solid game. He moves well, threw some big hits, and made good decisions with the puck.
Finally, I leave you with a quote from Davidson which I couldn’t fit into my game story, but I think is worth sharing: “I think people like to play offense. It’s the most fun part of the game. I think anybody who’s played beer league or shinny hockey knows that when you go out there you want to pass and skate and score and have some fun. I don’t think that’s any different when you’re playing in a real game, too.”
After giving up a 2-0 lead in the first period and falling behind 3-2, Everett needed to respond in the second. The Tips did with two goals in the first 3:28, scored by Kohl Bauml on a two-on-one and Cole MacDonald on a slap shot through traffic, to regain the lead. Everett led the rest of the way.
First star: Tyler Sandhu, Everett. Three assists, all primaries. He will thrive in the new offensive environment.
Second star: Connor Cox, Everett. One goal and one assist, looked far more comfortable on both ends of the ice.
Third star: Ryan Harrison, Everett. Two goals and one assist, sealed it with two late empty netters.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Brandon Magee, Victoria. One assist, was everywhere on the ice, and must have logged about 30 minutes.