Well, the Tips got taken to the woodshed tonight. Edmonton is the defending league champ for a reason, and we saw why first-hand. The Oil Kings can skate, they move the puck, and they’re absolutely relentless.
Everett tried to match Edmonton’s pace. The Tips came out hitting — the physical play caused the game to have an ill-tempered feel for much of it — and Everett skated with the Oil Kings in the first period. However, the Tips couldn’t keep up the pace beyond that, and Edmonton took total control from the second period onward. And to have any kind of chance tonight the Tips were going to need a special goaltending performance, and that didn’t happen.
I saw something I’ve never seen before tonight. Edmonton’s Griffin Reinhart snapped his stick on a slap shot from the point, yet somehow still managed to beat Everett goaltender Daniel Cotton clean as the puck slid into the far corner. Reinhart’s celebration was understandably sheepish.
And, well, let’s just say the officials didn’t do Everett any favors tonight, either. The power plays were 7-2 in favor of Edmonton, including two lengthy five-on-threes. There’s one sequence from the second period I’m still puzzling over as Edmonton ended up with a full two minutes of five-on-three, even though the most egregious thing I could see was Edmonton’s Keegan Lowe just bowling over an Everett player from behind well after the whistle. This wasn’t something Everett could afford as Edmonton has the league’s top power play, and the Oil Kings converted three times with the advantage.
The Tips fell three points behind Seattle for seventh place in the Western Conference as the T-birds upset Tri-City 3-1. Everett remained five points ahead of ninth-place Prince George, which fell 4-1 to Kamloops.
I’m not sure there was a sharp turning point tonight. The second period, in which Edmonton scored four times to go ahead 5-1, was more of a gradual incline.
First star: Michael St. Croix, Edmonton. Four assists, he was a maestro conducting the orchestra tonight.
Second star: Trevor Cheek, Edmonton. Two goals and one assist, an excellent trade deadline pick-up by the Oil Kings.
Third star: Reinhart. One goal and two assists, kept it simple.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Martin Gernat, Edmonton. Two goals, scored twice in the first six minutes of the second period to give the Oil Kings a 3-0 lead.
Trooper award: Austin Lotz, Everett. 13-for-13 on saves in less than 14 minutes, including some Plays of the Week stops. Everett basically stopped playing defense after Edmonton’s seventh goal, and only spectacular play by Lotz in relief kept the Oil Kings from hitting double digits.