EVERETT — One word describes what took place at Comcast Arena on Sunday night:
The Kelowna Rockets were the predator, the Everett Silvertips the prey, and the Rockets tore the Tips to pieces to the tune of an 8-2 thrashing.
Sunday’s game was less a contest and more a hunt. The Rockets were a hungry wolf stalking its evening meal, while the Tips were the deer frozen in its tracks. Kelowna controlled play from start to finish as Everett faced a cascade of odd-man rushes and breakaways. By the end of the game the Tips were completely shellshocked as they seemed to have no clue what to do against the Rockets.
By the end of the game there was a sense of restlessness amongst the home crowd, and after the game Everett coach Mark Ferner spent an extended period in the locker room before coming out to address the media.
“I said what I said to our group behind closed doors, and that will stay behind closed doors,” Ferner said. “In saying that, I have to take some of the responsibility, too. We win as a team and we lose as a team. Nobody is safe here as far as accountability, and I need to be accountable to this group. Maybe I didn’t get them prepared properly. Kelowna is a very good hockey team, and obviously we weren’t very good tonight.”
Carter Rigby led the Kelowna onslaught with a hat trick. The three goals where his first of the season.
Zach Franko, Ryan Olsen, Madison Bowey, Colton Heffley and Myles Bell also found the net for the Rockets (15-8-1-1), who are playing some inspired hockey. Kelowna completed a dominating sweep of its three-in-three weekend, having whipped Regina 5-1 Friday and Saskatoon 9-2 Saturday, both at home.
“The pucks are going in for us right now,” Kelowna coach Ryan Huska said. “This was a weekend where it seemed whatever we were shooting was going in. It was one of those weekends we’ll take, we know they won’t come around very often.”
Jackson Whistle improved to a perfect 6-0 in goal for Kelowna, making 22 saves.
Sixteen-year-olds Tyler Sandhu and Dawson Leedahl provided Everett (10-16-0-2) with its two goals. For Leedahl it was his first career WHL tally.
Tips netminder Austin Lotz suffered the brunt of Kelowna’s attack, allowing six goals on 34 shots before being removed early in the third period. Daniel Cotton stopped five of seven in relief.
Kelowna outplayed Everett in every facet of the game, keeping the puck almost exclusively in Everett’s zone. The Rockets methodically built a 4-1 lead through two periods, then turned the game into a rout by scoring four times in the first 11 minutes of the third.
“They’re a good hockey team,” Ferner said of the Rockets. “They’re well coached and have a tremendous amount of talent. They’re as good as we’ve faced this year.”
The score was tied 1-1 midway through the first when Kelowna went on a run of seven consecutive goals. It began on the first shift after Sandhu tied it for Everett. The Rockets broke three-on-two, Franko fed Olsen for a free run at goal, and Olsen beat Lotz with a shot up high to give Kelowna a 2-1 lead.
The Rockets consolidated their lead in the second. Bowey slapped a shot from the point into the top corner after the Tips couldn’t clear, and Rigby converted a breakaway following a misplay by Tips defenseman Connor Cox.
Kelowna then blew the game open in the third. Rigby got his second on a wraparound, then Heffley banged home a rebound to chase Lotz. The introduction of Cotton did nothing to change Everett’s fortunes as the Rockets scored on two of their next three shots, Bell converting a two-on-one and Rigby completing his hat trick on another breakaway.
Everett’s lone consolation came with less than six minutes remaining when Leedahl got his first, wiring a shot in off the crossbar on the power play.
Sunday’s game saw the return to Comcast Arena of former Everett wingers Cody Fowlie and JT Barnett. Fowlie and Barnett, both overagers, were picked up off waivers by the Rockets earlier this season after being released by the Tips. Barnett had an assist and Fowlie took two penalties. … Sandhu’s goal was his ninth of the season, giving him the team lead. … Everett was outshot 41-24 despite having a 7-3 advantage in power plays.
Rockets 8, Silvertips 2
First Period—1, Kelowna, Franko 11 (Lees, Bell), 5:46 (pp). 2, Everett, Sandhu 9 (Oslanski, Mueller), 10:16 (pp). 3, Kelowna, Olsen 13 (Franko, Barnett), 10:57. Penalties—Fowlie, Kelowna (hooking), 0:54; Betker, Everett (checking from behind), 5:01; Nyberg, Kelowna (goaltender interference), 9:44; Fowlie, Kelowna (hooking), 13:21; Martin, Kelowna (tripping), 19:01.
Second Period—4, Kelowna, Bowey 5, 4:19. 5, Kelowna, Rigby 1 (Nyberg, Stadel), 13:39. Penalties—Rigby, Kelowna (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:36; Betker, Everett (roughing-roughing), 6:36; Bell, Kelowna (slashing), 7:06; Sissons, Kelowna (roughing), 14:22; Winquist, Everett (roughing), 14:22; Walters, Everett (kneeing), 15:13; Olsen, Kelowna (hooking), 16:50.
Third Period—6, Kelowna, Rigby 2 (Baillie, Lees), 1:52. 7, Kelowna, Heffley 3 (Goulbourne, Wheaton), 6:29. 8, Kelowna, Bell 15 (Sissons), 9:37. 9, Kelowna, Rigby 3 (Baillie), 10:26. 10, Everett, Leedahl 1 (Betker), 14:11 (pp). Penalties—Rigby, Kelowna (goaltender interference), 12:20.
Shots on goal—Kelowna 13-15-13—41. Everett 7-8-9—24. Power-play opportunities—Kelowna 1 of 3. Everett 2 of 7.
Goalies—Kelowna, Whistle 6-0-0-0 (24 shots, 22 saves). Everett, Lotz 3-9-0-1 (34 shots, 28 saves), Cotton (7 shots, 5 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.