Tonight was something of a spectacle at Comcast Arena.
This was Seth Jones’ first game in Everett since the star defenseman spurned the Tips during the offseason, compelling Everett to trade his rights to Portland. Jones was vociferously booed every time he touched the puck by the home fans. But beyond that the crowd seemed well behaved, particular considering this was Portland’s first road game since being heavily penalized by the WHL for improper player benefits.
For what it’s worth, I talked to Jones after the game and he seems like a really nice guy. He took the booing in stride.
As for the game itself, the Tips actually played pretty well for the most part. However, Everett committed some egregious defensive errors that led to Portland goals. The defense that was so steady against Vancouver on Friday had some leaks tonight. But otherwise the game was pretty even — the shots finished 34-30 to Portland. I was thinking this game could potentially be a bloodbath, considering Portland had won 17 of its previous 18 and the Winterhawks had extra motivation this weekend following the sanctions. But the Tips held their own.
Finally, congratulations to Tips defenseman Cole MacDonald for his first career WHL goal. MacDonald was not a part of Everett’s defensive leaks tonight, and when you add in his first goal and a great game Friday against Vancouver, he had quite the weekend.
One sensed it wasn’t going to be Everett’s night for breaks when, just 2:17 into the game, Tips defenseman Ben Betker blew a tire while defending Derrick Pouliot on the rush, allowing Pouliot a free run at net for the game’s first goal.
First star: Ty Rattie, Portland. One goal and one assist, a dependable source of offense.
Second star: Brendan Burke, Portland. 29 saves, probably the best I’ve seen him play in person.
Third star: Pouliot. One goal, he skates the puck so well from his defensive position.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Brendan Leipsic, Portland. One goal, always dangerous, and for the most part was on his best behavior. I also want to mention Everett winger Carson Stadnyk. Stadnyk may not have hit the scoresheet, but he had a heck of the game. Best job of controlling the puck I’ve seen from him yet.