EVERETT — The fans at Comcast Arena better not have blinked at the start of Friday’s game between the Everett Silvertips and the Brandon Wheat Kings. Otherwise they may have missed the only moments of the game that truly mattered.
Brandon took advantage of an Everett major penalty in the game’s opening minute, scoring three times on the resulting five-minute power play, and the Silvertips never recovered in their 6-3 defeat to the Wheat Kings.
Jayce Hawryluk scored three goals, including two in the first period as Brandon built a four-goal lead. Everett tried to make a game of it in the third, scoring twice and threatening to pull within one. Instead, the Tips saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.
“We didn’t come out to play,” Everett winger Joshua Winquist said. “On that five-minute major they took advantage and we didn’t have a good penalty kill at all. They got three goals on it and we just can’t let that happen. That’s garbage from us.”
Richard Nejezchleb and Ryan Pulock also scored goals for Brandon, while Rihards Bukarts added the empty-netter that finished off the Tips. Jordan Papirny made 35 saves in net for the Wheat Kings (8-9-0-0), who finished off their swing through the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division on a winning note after dropping the first four games of the road trip.
Winquist had two goals and an assist to lead Everett (10-3-2-0). Tyler Sandhu also scored for the Tips, who outshot the Wheat Kings 38-17, including 24-5 during a third period that saw Everett coach Kevin Constantine pull his goaltender with nearly eight minutes remaining.
Daniel Cotton had a rough start to his stint as Everett’s primary netminder. Cotton, who will be the Tips’ No. 1 while Austin Lotz is sidelined with his ankle injury, allowed four goals on the first five shots he faced. He finished with 11 saves.
The game could not have started any worse for Everett. Just 35 seconds into the game Dawson Leedahl was tagged with a major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind, giving Brandon five minutes to score as often as possible on the power play.
And score often the Wheat Kings did. Brandon put just three shots on goal during the power play, but all three went in. Nejezchleb got the first at 2:08 when he put the puck in from behind Cotton after Bukarts’ shot came back off the post. Pulock made it 2-0 at 2:53 when his shot from the point deflected through Cotton. Then Hawryluk snuck behind the Everett defense and fired past Cotton on a breakaway at 4:49.
The Wheat Kings led 5-1 after two periods and it appeared the third would be a case of playing out the string. However, the Tips decided to make a push and got themselves back into the game. Winquist got his second of the game at 4:13 when, while the teams were skating four-on-four, he scored from the slot following Manraj Hayer’s face-off win. Then 2:47 later the Tips made it 5-3, Sandhu with a tremendous redirection on Austin Adam’s shot from the point.
“We started working,” Winquist said. “Once we figured out the right way to play we started dominating, in my opinion. We have to start doing that for a full 60, we can’t always come from behind. It doesn’t work that way, you have to start by coming out strong and taking it for a full 60.”
The game was all one-way traffic after Everett’s third goal as the Tips applied constant pressure on the Brandon net. Then with 7:53 remaining Constantine, who was infamous for pulling his goaltender early for an extra attacker during his first stint with Everett, went back to his old tricks, calling Cotton to the bench. The Tips played the next four minutes in Brandon’s end, but were unable to beat Papirny. Then with 2:59 remaining the Wheat Kings finally found daylight on the breakout, with Bukarts scoring into the empty net to clinch it.
Hawryluk, who was a terror in the Everett zone throughout the first two periods, finally completed his hat trick at 19:01 of the second when he rifled a shot from the slot past Cotton to make it 5-1. The three goals matched Hawryluk’s season total coming into the game.
It was a big night for Mill Creek resident Jason Hadaller. The 17-year-old served as the emergency backup goaltender for Brandon because the Wheat Kings’ No. 1, Curtis Honey, was out injured. … Friday’s game marked the return to Everett of defenseman Nick Walters. Walters spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Tips, notching seven goals, 25 assists and 217 penalty minutes in 145 games, before being traded to Brandon at last season’s trade deadline. … Everett center Jujhar Khaira sat out his sixth straight game because of an upper-body injury.
Wheat Kings 6, Silvertips 3
First Period—1, Brandon, Nejezchleb 9 (Bukarts, Robinson), 2:08 (pp). 2, Brandon, Pulock 5 (Hawryluk, Roy), 2:53 (pp). 3, Brandon, Hawryluk 4 (Waltz), 4:49 (pp). 4, Brandon, Hawryluk 5 (Roy), 9:50. Penalties—Leedahl, Everett (major-checking from behind-game misconduct), 0:35; Walters, Brandon (interference), 12:26.
Second Period—5, Everett, Winquist 10 (Hayer, Pufahl), 11:45 (pp). 6, Brandon, Hawryluk 6 (Waltz, Palmer), 19:01. Penalties—Nejezchleb, Brandon (boarding), 7:39; Robinson, Brandon (cross checking), 10:40; Lindgren, Brandon (tripping), 15:56.
Third Period—7, Everett, Winquist 11 (Hayer), 4:13. 8, Everett, Sandhu 4 (Adam, Winquist), 7:00. 9, Brandon, Bukarts 5 (Robinson, Pulock), 17:01 (en). Penalties—Hawryluk, Brandon (unsportsmanlike conduct), 3:47; Low, Everett (unsportsmanlike conduct), 3:47.
Shots on goal—Brandon 6-6-5—17. Everett 5-9-24—38. Power-play opportunities—Brandon 3 of 1. Everett 1 of 4.
Goalies—Brandon, Papirny 2-3-0-0 (38 shots, 35 saves). Everett, Cotton 1-1-1-0 (16 shots, 11 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.