Fonstad demonstrated exactly that in his first game donning the Silvertips sweater on Wednesday, as the recently acquired forward notched a goal and an assists, both on the power play, to help lift Everett to a 3-2 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“He brings a good calmness and composure out there,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “He makes good plays. You can see he holds on to the puck for that extra half second to find a seam. I thought he played a really good game.”
The former Prince Albert Raider and 2019 WHL champion potted the Silvertips’ first goal at 14 seconds into the third period, burying a rebound on a shot from Wyatte Wylie to cut Brandon’s lead to 2-1.
It was a nice feeling to help take some nerves out of playing his first home game with his new squad.
“It felt really good to get the first one out of the way in the first game,” Fonstad said. “Obviously that’s my role here is to create some offense and to get that off my back and just focus on playing hockey now. It’s nice.”
The goal came with three seconds remaining in a 5-on-3 power play, sparked by a roughing penalty assessed to the Wheat Kings’ Dom Schmiemann after the buzzer in the second.
“That’s what we talked about. We have 15 seconds, that’s what we talked about,” Williams said. “We were obviously looking for a quick strike, which we got with Wyatte there, but the rebound came right to him. … You could see the emotion and the excitement definitely had us going on that.”
The timing of Fonstad’s goal was key as it allowed for 1 minute, 46 seconds more time on the man advantage, which Gage Goncalves took advantage of at 1:14 in the third period with his second goal of the season.
“That was a big-time shot,” Williams said. “That was a big-time play all the way through with Bryce being able to one-touch that one up top. A lot of guys that high (in the slot) shooting the puck in this league, it takes a lot to elevate it on that type of shot. Obviously Gage got his feet around and buried it.”
Goncalves’ second goal tilted the score in the Silvertips favor at 5:35 in the third period, as he whacked in the rebound after Olen Zellweger’s point shot was deflected wide. Fonstad picked up an assist to register his third three-point performance in as many games, dating back to his previous two performances with Prince Albert. Fonstad, a Montreal Canadiens draft pick, owns 12 points in 10 games this season.
Fonstad, who played Brandon plenty in the East Division with Prince Albert, played possibly his final game against the Wheat Kings in his career, with no more games scheduled with Brandon this season. In 19 career games against the Wheat Kings, Fonstad boasts 25 points (12 goals and 13 assists).
“I’ve always enjoyed playing them and always had some success against them, so it was good to follow that up,” Fonstad said.
TOP LINE SHINES
Everett’s top line of Fonstad, Kindopp centered by Goncalves yielded instant results in their first game together, something Williams hoped for when he assembled that line following Fonstad’s acquisition over the weekend.
“I thought they had good speed,” Williams said. “They supported the puck well and they’re making these little 10-15-foot passes and keeping their feet moving. I just thought that they were really complimenting each other and even up to that third period I thought they had a lot of really good looks in the game itself and probably gave us the bulk of our offense when they were on the ice. I thought there was definitely some chemistry there and something to build off of.”
“Things were a little heavy in the first but in the second we were creating about every shift,” Fonstad added. “It was good to see and it was good to start clicking in the third and capitalizing on some chances.”
It was especially gratifying for Goncalves, who was challenged to move from wing to center to form a trio with the two highly touted forwards.
“Oh my gosh, it is making life so much easier on me,” Goncalves said. “They have so much patience and they open up so much space on the ice. Cole just brought a whole new level. Larry (Kindopp) is fast, but those two are hard to keep up with sometimes, but I’m getting used to it.”
GONCALVES DEMONSTRATES SCORING FLARE
Following his momentous overtime winner against Seattle last Saturday, Goncalves potted two more in Everett’s win on Wednesday. After scoring only one regular-season goal last season, Goncalves is showcasing more of a scoring touch in his sophomore season.
“Yeah, obviously I’m getting some bounces right now and I’m just trying to work on all that stuff during practice,” Goncalves said. “We worked on that power play look a lot during practice and it’s good to see that are sets are going good. Yeah, I’m just getting some bounces and Cole and Bryce are doing a good job of getting pucks my way and I’m just trying to throw them back.”
“We talked earlier this week about how smart he is and how he gets to the right areas,” Williams said. “He’s obviously playing well.”
POWER PLAY BACK ON TRACK
Everett went 2-for-5 with the man advantage on Wednesday, the first time all season Everett’s scored more than one goal on the power play this season and improved its overall percentage from 14.3% to 17.5%. The Silvertips entered the game against Brandon with the 21st-ranked power play in the WHL.
“I thought our power play was really good,” Williams said. “When we were 0-for-2 early on, I wasn’t upset with it at all. I thought we had some really good looks, some really good entries, some good speed on entries. It was one of those where it’s funny how it works. You score one in 15 seconds on a desperation type of set that gives you enough boost to get the second one.”
KARKI SOLID BETWEEN PIPES
In his second start with Everett, Karki stopped 27-of-29 shots to earn his second win of the season.
In his ninth career WHL game, Zellweger picked up his first career point on the shot that led to Goncalves’ second goal and put the Silvertips up 3-2 in the third.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Zellweger said. “I guess that’s what happens when you put the puck on net. It felt good.”
Williams’ overall thoughts: “I thought we had a pretty good game going, not just in the third period, but we had some really good looks in the first and second. We kind of just stuck to our game plan and got some timely goals. Like I said to our group, we have to play a full 60 minutes and we could have went up a couple goals and played on our heals, but sometimes it’s easier to play when you’re down a couple of goals and you play a lot more desperate sometimes. But throughout the whole game I thought we were playing on our toes and playing a desperate hockey game.”
The Silvertips host the Tri-City Americans for the second time this season with a 7:35 p.m. puck drop Friday at Angel of the Winds Arena.
Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for the Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @joshhortonEDH