EVERETT —For one of the league’s premier goal scorers, things weren’t coming as easy in a Silvertips sweater for Zack Andrusiak
The 20-year-old forward, who Everett acquired in a blockbuster trade with Seattle on New Year’s Day, had plenty of Grade ‘A’ chances that rang off the post, went just wide or was gobbled up by the goaltender entering Saturday, and every prime opportunity that didn’t translate into a goal induced a frustrating tilt back of the head for Andrusiak.
But the floodgates opened once again for Andrusiak on Saturday, as the overage forward recorded his sixth career and fourth hat trick of the season and Everett trounced Lethbridge, 9-1, on Saturday at Angel of the Winds Arena in a clash of division-leading teams.
“Any time you can score three goals, and my first one with the Silvertips, is a great night,” Andrusiak said. “I’m going to try and put up some more.”
The Silvertips potted six goals in the second period, setting a franchise record for goals in a period.
The Armstrong, British Columbia native is known as someone that can score in significant clusters, with 19 of his 34 goals this season coming in seven games this year.
“They say that about some guys and with all goal scoring you can say it’s streaky,”Andrusiak said. “When it’s going in, obviously it’s really good.
“It’s really uplifting. When things aren’t going right, you get a little frustrated, but when it’s going in it’s pretty positive always. You just have to make sure you stick with it no matter what, even if things aren’t going good. In times like this, you can’t get too high or too low.”
Andrusiak potted his first goal at the 17:59 mark of the first period. Lethbridge goaltender Bryan Thomson played the puck behind his net, but Bryce Kindopp was the closest skater and he pounced on the opportunity, feeding Andrusiak who just tapped it in to put Everett up 2-0.
The winger scored his second goal 29 seconds into the second period, skating in backdoor and whacking in a rebound goal with a second to go on a power-play chance to put Everett up 3-0.
Andrusiak sent hats soaring onto the ice with a power-play goal at 12:47, ripping a slapshot into the back of the net from the right circle. The three-goal effort pushed his season total to 34, the third most in the Western Hockey League this season.
“He’s been snake bitten a little bit,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “He even had two or three in the second that were right in the glove. He could have had four or five.
“But it was nice to see.”
Artyom Minulin scored his first goal of the season, clapping a one-timer under Lethbridge goaltender Bryan Thomason’s blocker pad to provide Everett a 1-0 lead with 5:27 remaining in the first period. Max Patterson and Jake Christiansen were credited with the assists.
Lethbridge made a goalie change after the third goal, inserting Carl Tetachuk between the pipes, but Connor Dewar didn’t wait long to put one past him, snapping a shot into the back of the net on the rush to put Everett up 4-0. Ronan Seeley and Sahvan Khaira picked up assists.
Seventeen-year-old center Reece Vitelli followed quickly with a similar goal at 9:18.
Justin Hall scored Lethbridge’s lone goal 20 seconds after, but Everett kept piling it on, with Andrusiak’s third goal and a goal from Bryce Kindopp just 20 seconds after to extend Everett’s lead to 7-1.
Gianni Fairbrother capped off the six-goal period with power-play goal with 5:59 remaining in the second to push Everett’s lead to 8-1.
Kindopp tallied his second of the night 14 seconds into the third on a power play to make it 9-1.
Jake Christiansen assisted on three goals while Sahvan Khaira and Dewar picked up a pair of helpers.
The Silvertips were 5-for-9 on the power play, tying a season-high for goals with the man-advantage (set on Nov. 9 and Oct. 13 against Kamloops).
Dustin Wolf turned away 25-of-26 shots in his 31st win of the season.
It was a major bounce back weekend for Everett, who topped Tri-City on Friday to snap a three-game losing streak. Everett outscored its two opponents 11-1 over the weekend.
“We got to learn how to appreciate winning and scoring goals and not taking it for granted,” Williams said. “I thought we played a really good game yesterday. A real sound game on the road. And we knew we had a really good team coming in and their top two lines are arguably some of the best you’ll find in the WHL and across Canada. We knew the challenge for us there and I thought we did a really good job of eliminating those two lines and eliminating their time and space, controlling the neutral zone, staying out of the box and taking advantage of our scoring chances.”
The Silvertips take on Interstate-5 rival Seattle on Friday, for the first of a back-to-back matchups with the Thunderbirds. Seattle will return the favor and play Everett at Angel of the Winds Arena on Feb. 2.