It was a weird beginning. The only shot in the first seven-plus minutes came on a long clear by Victoria that found its way on net. The Royals seemed to have several opportunities without being able to get a shot off.
But then the Tips erupted for three goals in less than four minutes – thanks in part to a pair of power-play tallies – and never trailed in a 5-2 win. Throw in Portland’s 4-1 win over Seattle and Everett is your 2016-17 U.S. Division champion.
Following that the Tips looked like a team thoroughly determined – until the final five minutes. Carter Hart should have had his league-best 10th shutout before a pair of defensive breakdowns in the final five minutes resulted in the 5-2 verdict. I was busy cranking out my gamer and didn’t get a great look at either goal, but suffice to say it wasn’t the final five minutes Everett wanted. Nevertheless, that paled in comparison to the end result of Everett’s fifth U.S. Division title in 14 seasons.
The 99 points the Tips have recorded are second only to the 111 secured by the 2006-07 Scotty Munro Trophy-winning club. Everett has a chance to make it 101 tonight in Kennewick.
The Turning Point
The first goal came at 9:45 when Brandson Hein tapped in a rebound of Jake Christiansen’s shot. That broke Everett out of its initial funk and a deluge ensued.
Normally the outgoing 20-year-olds are the stars, but that didn’t officially occur (per the WHL website) so I’m just going to list some players who stood out.
In no particular order:
Everett D Kevin Davis (three assists)
Everett D Aaron Irving (two assists)
Everett F Dominic Zwerger (two assists)
Everett goal scorers: F Brandson Hein, F Patrick Bajkov, F Cal Babych, F Riley Sutter, F Matt Fonteyne.