The Everett Silvertips turned in the bounce-back performance they needed Saturday. They scored twice in the opening period and three times in the third thanks to a pair of late power-play goals and earned a convincing 5-1 victory on the road at Tri-City.
In fact the Tips were 3-for-6 on the man advantage, a unit that carried their offense for much of the season before struggling recently. The five goals were a true team effort as a quintet of players found the net. Dominic Zwerger, Riley Sutter and Noah Juulsen each had multi-point games.
The Tips were once again without overage defenseman Aaron Irving (officially day-to-day), but that wasn’t as surprising as whom the Tips started in net. You have to hand it to head coach Kevin Constantine, who has said more than once that he doesn’t make goalie decisions in advance of game day, despite having arguably the best goalie in junior hockey at his beck and call in Carter Hart.
I’m sure part of Saturday’s goalie decision stemmed from wanting to give Hart ample rest, but it also turns out backup Mario Petit’s numbers against the Tri-City Americans are better than Hart’s. So it was Petit between the pipes Saturday, and the Manitoban delivered with 22 saves on 23 shots while improving to 3-0 in starts against the Americans.
“What can you say about young Mario Petit?” Everett assistant coach Mitch Love rhetorically asked in a post-game interview on 1380 KRKO-AM. “He did a heck of a job down there tonight for us. He made some big saves in that first period to keep it 2-0 for us to get into the locker room and I just thought he was real sharp tonight.”
In four appearances against Tri-City (including a game in which he replaced Hart after one period) Petit has saved 84 of the 91 shots he’s seen for a .923 save percentage and a 1.91 goals-against average.
Hart, in six appearances, has saved 104 of the 120 shots he’s seen from the Americans for a save percentage of .867 and a GAA of 2.94 – nearly a full goal higher than his season average. Twice Hart has allowed four goals to the Americans and he was yanked after surrendering two on seven shots in the first period back on Feb. 1.
“It’s not a bad problem to have two goalies who can stop pucks for you,” Love said. “We obviously know what Carter can do for us, and then Mario, he’s played more hockey this year than last year and I think you can really see signs of that in his game. He looked very comfortable in the net tonight, with the saves he had to make – the difficult ones. It was a real nice thing that you need this time of year.”
There is chance the Tips could see the Americans in the playoffs, and don’t forget that Petit proved his postseason mettle a year ago when he won the first three games of Everett’s first-round sweep of Portland – including a shutout in the opener.
Suffice to say there could be some interesting game day decisions made in the coming weeks.
The Turning Point
Zwerger scored his goal less than three minutes into the game. The Tips are very good when they score first and Zwerger’s goal set the tone for a dominating win.
1. Everett G Mario Petit: The backup continued his master of the Americans with 22 saves on 23 shots.
2. Tri-City F Tyler Sandhu: The former Tip scored the one goal for Ams.
3. Everett F Dominic Zwerger: The overager scored Everett’s first goal and added two assists.
Honorable mention: Everett D Noah Juulsen (two assists), Everett F Riley Sutter (two assists).