EVERETT — Rookie goaltender Dustin Wolf has checked off many “firsts” in his brief Everett Silvertips career.
That includes his first win, first assist and even his first WHL Goaltender of the Week award.
But he was missing an important one: his first home game.
Saturday marked Wolf’s home debut, and the 16-year-old added yet another “first” as he recorded his first career shutout in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars before 5,174 fans at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“Getting your first shutout is a pretty good milestone in your career, especially to get it here at home in my first game at home,” Wolf said. “It was a great effort by the team as well.”
Wolf finished with 31 saves for his fourth win in six career WHL games. The Tips never trailed as they put forth the sort of effort that was lacking in Friday’s 5-3 loss at Spokane.
“(Friday) night wasn’t a great effort — I thought we lacked compete,” head coach Dennis Williams said. “Either you come out and turn the page and skate and play to our strengths or we can keep working the other side like we saw on Friday. But I was real proud of our leadership. Those guys did a great job getting the room ready and getting the guys ready for this one.”
The Silvertips (20-13-1-1, 42 points) have now won 10 of their past 11 games. Friday’s loss at Spokane snapped Everett’s nine-game winning streak.
Everett also finished its season series with a 3-0-0-1 mark against the Cougars (12-16-3-2, 29 points).
Riley Sutter had two goals and an assist, Patrick Bajkov had a goal and an assist and Matt Fonteyne had two assists to pace the Everett offense.
“I think we just had to park (Friday) night’s game and come out with an attitude and bounce back, and I think we did a good job tonight,” Sutter said. “That was a big effort from everyone and Wolfie kept us in it the whole game.”
Sutter’s second goal of the night came on the power play at 4:02 in the third period and extended Everett’s lead to 3-0. Sean Richards added another at 6:40 when he crashed the net and backhanded a wrister past Taylor Gauthier.
The Tips previously snapped a scoreless tie with two goals in the second period.
Everett’s first goal came just 16 seconds into the period. Sutter crashed a scrum in front of the net and pushed the puck past Gauthier for the 1-0 lead.
The Cougars nearly tied it three minutes later when Wolf misplayed the puck behind his own net. But the rookie goalie recovered quickly to record a sprawling save and keep his shutout intact. Wolf later stoned a breakaway attempt from Prince George’s Vladislav Mikhalchuk in the second period.
The second goal came on a shorthanded two-on-one break. Fonteyne drew the goalie to the right side before finding Bajkov at the bottom of the left circle for a one-timer for a 2-0 lead at 18:41.
It was just Everett’s second short-handed goal of the season.
“It’s a lot more fun to play in the offensive zone than the defensive zone,” Williams quipped. “I know part of the game is blocking pucks and boxing out and hitting, but to be honest who likes to do that over scoring?”
Neither team scored in the opening period. Everett came up empty on the frame’s lone power play and finished the period with a 13-7 shot advantage.
Gauthier finished with 50 saves on 54 shots. Everett outshot Prince George 54-31.
The Tips conclude the first half of the season at 4:05 p.m. Sunday when they play host to the Portland Winterhawks.
If Everett wins it will enter the holiday break in first place in the U.S. Division.
That’s something that seemed unfathomable before Wolf’s Oct. 27 debut when the Tips were 4-9-1-1.
“I think we’ve really found our character in the room,” Wolf said, “and we’re just building upon it and hopefully … getting the next two points tomorrow and taking over first place.”
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Silvertips 4, Cougars 0
Prince George 0 0 0 — 0
Everett 0 2 2 — 4
1st Period—No Scoring. Penalties—Boyd Pg (high sticking), 16:57.
2nd Period—1, Everett, Sutter 11 (Kindopp, Bajkov), 0:16. 2, Everett, Bajkov 19 (Fonteyne), 18:41 (SH). Penalties—Maser Pg (hooking), 7:05; Sutter Evt (interference), 7:19; Walker Evt (hooking), 15:01; served by Ormsby Evt (too many men), 17:44; Mikhalchuk Pg (roughing), 19:14; Walker Evt (roughing), 19:14.
3rd Period—3, Everett, Sutter 12 (Fonteyne, Davis), 4:02 (PP). 4, Everett, Richards 14 (Sutter, Walker), 6:40. Penalties—Azhgirei Pg (boarding), 3:09; Onyebuchi Evt (boarding, misconduct – mouthguard), 7:06; Schoettler Pg (slashing), 12:05; Bethune Pg (game misconduct), 20:00; Centazzo Evt (game misconduct), 20:00.
Shots on Goal—Prince George 7-11-13-31. Everett 13-19-22-54.
Power Play Opportunities—Prince George 0 / 4; Everett 1 / 4.
Goalies—Prince George, Gauthier 4-6-1-1 (54 shots-50 saves). Everett, Wolf 4-2-0-0 (31 shots-31 saves).