By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — A weekend that started in the tank for the Everett Silvertips finished with a flourish.
Everett completed its three-in-three weekend by defeating the Swift Current Broncos 4-1 Sunday evening at Comcast Arena.
Everett’s weekend, the first three-in-three of the season, got off to a rough start when the Tips fell 4-2 at Spokane in a game where Everett didn’t play well. But a pair of victories at home — Saturday’s 1-0 decision over Kamloops coupled with Sunday’s result — turned it into a winning weekend for the Tips.
“That was very important,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said about the weekend bounceback. “I remember looking at (Hall of Fame goaltender) Patrick Roy’s record after a game in which he gave up five or more goals, and it’s ridiculous how unbelievable his record was when he had a bad outing. Spokane was a bad outing, and if you’re a good team you have to react to that, you have to have a response. It was two pretty good games after a poor performance, so it was real big that we came back with a couple wins and made it a winning week.”
The Tips didn’t waste any time making sure the weekend was something worth celebrating. Everett dominated the first period and took a 3-0 lead. The Tips cruised home from there.
“We came out and we wanted it more, I feel,” Tips winger Joshua Winquist said about the first period. “We outworked them and outchanced them, and we showed it by putting the puck in the net.”
Winquist led the charge for the Tips, finishing with a goal and two assists, all during that first-period surge. Ivan Nikolishin, Manraj Hayer and Tyler Sandhu also scored for Everett (8-2-2-0).
Austin Lotz, making his third start of the weekend in goal for Everett, finished with 25 saves to improve to 7-2-1-0. For the weekend he stopped 73 of the 78 shots he faced, good for a .936 save percentage. Following Sunday’s performance he regained the league lead in both goals against average (1.74) and save percentage (.935).
“I thought we played pretty good,” Constantine said. “Manny Hayer’s line (with Winquist and Sandhu) was good. Swift Current has a decent team and we had to keep track of their top line. (Broncos defenseman Julius Honka) can do damage in a game, and we had to find a way to minimize the damage he can do. It’s three-in-three and it’s not easy to be real energetic, and yet I thought we played pretty hard for our third game in three nights. There were a lot of good things.”
Honka scored the lone goal for Swift Current, which is having a rough time in its trip through the U.S. Division. The Broncos, who were playing their fourth game in five nights against U.S. Division foes, departed Swift Currrent leading the WHL’s East Division. However, the Broncos lost all four to fall to 6-7-0-1, and they’ve fallen all the way to fifth in the division. Swift Current completes its swing Tuesday at Tri-City.
Eetu Laurikainen stopped 10 of the 13 shots he faced in goal for Swift Current before being pulled following a called-off goal early in the second period. Landon Bow stopped 16 of 17 in relief.
The Tips put themselves on the track to a winning weekend by playing an excellent first period, and their 3-0 lead was well deserved.
Winquist opened the scoring at 8 minutes, 18 seconds. Matt Pufahl skated the puck into the offensive zone and made a little drop pass to the following Winquist, who one-timed a shot into the far corner to make it 1-0.
“That was huge,” said Winquist, Everett’s leading scorer who snapped a three-game pointless streak. “(Against Kamloops) I think I set my career record for shots (in a game), and I couldn’t buy a goal to save my life. To get it early was huge.”
Everett doubled its lead on the power play at 11:18. Winquist picked up a rebound off the backboards and immediately whipped a pass across to Nikolishin, who swept the puck into the open net to make it 2-0.
Hayer put a cherry on top of the period with 15.4 seconds remaining. Moments earlier Hayer’s backcheck broke up a potential Swift Current two-on-one. The Tips sent the puck the other way, with Winquist and Tyler Sandhu combining to work the puck into Hayer’s path as Everett made it 3-0.
It seemed that Everett made it 4-0 2:38 into the second when Nikolishin’s shot pinballed in. However, after a lengthy discussion the officials waived it off because of contact with the goaltender. The moment nevertheless sent Laurikainen to the bench in favor of Bow.
Swift Current tried to make it a game and got on the board on the power play at 15:52 as Honka beat Lotz clean with a slap shot from the top of the left circle. But the Tips got that goal back at 18:44 when Ben Betker intercepted a pass and broke two-on-one, and Sandhu was there to poke in the rebound to make it 4-1.
The Tips then went defensive in the third period while the Broncos double-shifted their top line. But Everett kept the puck out, with Lotz making a couple sparkling saves to keep it from getting interesting.
Everett was again without two forwards as center Jujhar Khaira (upper body) and winger Patrick Bajkov (undisclosed) were out injured. With two forwards unavailable, the Tips again dressed all eight of their defensemen, with Cole MacDonald and Micheal Zipp playing as forwards. ? There was a large contingent of NHL scouts on hand Sunday as Honka and fellow Broncos defenseman Brycen Martin are both considered potential first-round picks in the 2014 NHL draft.
Silvertips 4, Broncos 1
Swift Current 0 1 0 — 1
Everett 3 1 0 — 4
First Period—1, Everett, Winquist 8 (Pufahl, Stadnyk), 8:18. 2, Everett, Nikolishin 2 (Winquist, Pufahl), 11:18 (pp). 3, Everett, Hayer 5 (Sandhu, Winquist), 19:44. Penalties—Heatherington, Swift Current (cross checking), 8:57; Martin, Swift Current (boarding), 9:59; Pufahl, Everett (high sticking-roughing), 13:05; Fonteyne, Everett (high sticking), 20:00.
Second Period—4, Swift Current, Honka 5 (Martin, Gordon), 15:52 (pp). 5, Everett, Sandhu 2 (Betker), 18:44. Penalties—Cave, Swift Current (tripping), 7:41; Nikolishin, Everett (high sticking), 15:12.
Third Period—no goals. Penalties—LeSann, Swift Current (fighting-10-minute misconduct), 2:04; Zipp, Everett (fighting), 2:04; Fonteyne, Everett (delay of game), 5:16; Merkley, Swift Current (checking from behind), 17:02; Lernout, Swift Current (10-minute misconduct), 17:02; Betker, Everett (cross checking-10-minute misconduct), 17:02; Bevan, Swift Current (roughing), 19:15.
Shots on goal—Swift Current 5-9-12—26. Everett 13-13-4—30. Power-play opportunities—Swift Current 1 of 5. Everett 1 of 4.
Goalies—Swift Current, Laurkainen 3-6-0-1 (13 shots, 10 saves), Bow (17 shots, 16 saves). Everett, Lotz 7-2-1-0 (26 shots, 25 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.