First Things First
In what is becoming a weekly tradition a Central Division team celebrated a goal on Twitter by tweeting a gif of a well-known world dictator. Tonight it was the Lethbridge Hurricanes who did the honors as they tweeted a gif of Vladimir Putin laughing to celebrate a goal from Russian-born Egor Babenko:
— LethbridgeHurricanes (@WHLHurricanes) March 4, 2017
In a related note I remember distinctly hearing him announced on the WHL Live feed as “Comrade Babenko” when he scored against Everett last season in Lethbridge.
The Silvertips fell out of first place as the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated Tri-City 3-2 Friday, so Saturday’s game at Xfinity Arena against the T-Birds is of utmost importance to Everett’s division-title hopes.
To a man the Tips were far more pleased with the effort Friday following lackluster games at Seattle last Sunday and at home against Spokane on Wednesday. They held a significant shot advantage and battled back from a pair of single-goal deficits to force overtime and pick up the point. A regulation win over Seattle Saturday puts the Tips back into first place.
Patrick Bajkov said he felt Kelowna goalie Michael Herringer’s glove on the disallowed first-period goal, but head coach Kevin Constantine had a slightly different take when I asked if the Tips felt they were snake-bitten in the first period.
“Scoring is not natural for us,” Constantine said. “We didn’t feel like we did any interfering on the first goal so we thought that should have been a good goal. We hit the pipe and that’s (Bajkov) who can put it in, so snake-bitten with regards to those two, yeah a little bit.”
This game didn’t have quite the physical feel as Everett’s 5-4 win back on Jan. 16. The Tips scored three power-play goals on seven opportunties in that game, but came up empty on four man advantages Friday. Kelowna also failed to score on three power plays.
“Every game creates different opportunities for that to happen,” Constantine said. “I didn’t think quite as much tonight as it was the last time we played them, but they’re a big, strong, physical team. They got skill, they got talent, you see all the NHL drafted players that they have and will have this year so they’re a very good organization and a very good team most years and this is one of the years they’re having a very good year.”
Montana Onyebuchi and Keith Anderson each skated on Everett’s fourth line partially in an attempt to provide some size. It was Onyebuchi’s first game since Everett beat Vancouver 1-0 on Feb. 4. Constantine said that was as much to reward Onyebuchi’s attitude and work ethic as it was to counter Kelowna’s size.
1. Kelowna F Reid Gardiner: The overager scored both goals for the Rockets.
2. Everett G Carter Hart: The reigning WHL Goaltender of the Month had 24 saves on 26 shots.
3. Everett D Jake Christiansen: The second-year blueliner had a goal and an assist.
Honorable Mention: Everett D Kevin Davis (two assists), Everett F Patrick Bajkov (one goal, one assist), Kelowna G Michael Herringer (34 saves on 36 shots).