You probably couldn’t invent a more-brutal game for the Tips.
First the Tips lost their captain and star defenseman, Ryan Murray, to injury less than four minutes into the game. Then the Tips just lost it completely during the final five minutes of the second period. Brandon scored five times in the second, four during that awful final five minutes, to turn it into a laugher.
The Tips played most of the game without Murray, who was crunched hard into the boards during his second shift, skated straight to the bench, headed directly to the locker room and did not return. He was later seen on crutches. There was no word on the severity of the injury.
Murray wasn’t the only player Everett lost. Forward Ryan Harrison, who scored Everett’s first goal, limped off after blocking a shot in the second period and didn’t return. Then leading scorer Josh Birkholz departed during the third period because of a back issue.
While three key players were lost to injury, the rest of the Tips just looked lost, particularly during the second period when Brandon outshot Everett 19-2. Goaltender Kent Simpson was not sharp and was lifted after allowing five goals on 25 shots. The Tips didn’t respond well to that as they hung replacement Austin Lotz out to dry a mere 27 seconds later. It really was an utter train wreck.
It’s an afterthought now, but I saw another first tonight. With 2:27 remaining in the first period a piece of glass broke off one of the panels behind the west goal. The officials decided to end the period early and take the intermission immediately instead of waiting for the glass to be replaced. The first period then resumed after the intermission, with the second period following immediately. Interesting decision.
The entire second period was a disaster for the Tips. But it really got out of hand after Brandon’s Ayrton Nikkel beat Simpson clean with a slap shot from the point to make it 4-1 late in the period. Everett was a frazzled mess after that, and Brandon scored three more times before the second-period horn sounded, turning it into a rout.
HIT OF THE DAY
Late in the first period Harrison and Brandon’s Michael Ferland had a good exchange, Harrison first hitting Ferland hard into the boards, then later in the shift Ferland catching Harrison flush in open ice.
First star: Ferland. One goal and two assists, was a force both with his skill and his physical play.
Second star: Paul Ciarelli, Brandon. Two goals and one assist, made himself a nuisance in front of the net.
Third star: Ayrton Nikkel, Brandon. One goal, his first in the WHL.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Darian Dziurzynski, Brandon. Two goals and one assist, he and Ferland are a devastating pair of wingers on one line with their ability to both crash and score.