When Kevin Constantine was hired as Everett’s new coach during the offseason, there were rumblings, particularly from the fanbases of the other U.S. Division teams, that the Tips would be returning to boring, trapping hockey characterized by 2-1 scores.
After Everett beat Kootenay 8-6 today at the Tri-City Preseason Tournament, the Tips have scored 26 goals in five preseason games, an average of more than five per game. Last season Everett was last in the league in goals with 171, an average of 2.4 per game. So far in the preseason the Tips have 12 players averaging at least a point per game, including two (Joshua Winquist and Manraj Hayer) who are above the two-points-per-game mark. Last season Everett had just one player (Winquist) breach the point-per-game level. What’s going on here?
Today Everett played short-handed, as not only were the Tips without their NHL campers, they gave Winquist and overage defenseman Matt Pufahl the day off, and also went with 16-year-old Nik Amundrud in goal. That said, Kootenay was equally short, and the Ice are at a different point in their preseason preparations. I remember chatting with Kootenay general manager Jeff Chynoweth one preseason when his son, Ryan, was playing for the Tips. Jeff talked about how his team always opens training camp a week later and that the Tri-City tournament is always the team’s first competitive action. The other participants always play their first preseason games the previous weekend in Everett, so Kootenay always gets killed in Kennewick. Make of that what you will.
It’s also worth noting that Everett gave up just four power plays in the two games in Kennewick. Opponents scored on three of those four opportunities.
Nevertheless, Everett is a perfect 5-0 in preseason, outscoring its opponents 26-15. Sure, it’s just the preseason, but these are encouraging signs for the Tips.