EVERETT — The WHL season is seven weeks old, but Friday in many ways felt like a new beginning at Xfinity Arena as the Everett Silvertips played host to the Prince George Cougars.
Two-time WHL Goaltender of the Year Carter Hart made his home debut and Monroe native Luke Ormsby became the second Snohomish County player to skate for the Silvertips as Everett topped the visiting Cougars 3-1 before 3,579 fans at Xfinity Arena.
“I was getting pretty anxious just sitting around,” Hart said. “When you have (mononucleosis) that’s all you can do. But I worked hard to get back and get my energy back up. I rested as much as I can and I felt ready to go tonight, and it was good to get back out there and get a huge win in front of the home crowd.”
Patrick Bajkov’s go-ahead goal at 18:38 in the third off a feed from Matt Fonteyne capped a night of high drama in which the Silvertips outshot the Cougars 49-24.
Connor Dewar iced the game with an empty-netter at 19:32 in the third.
Everett was stymied on eight power-play chances including four 5-on-3 opportunities as Prince George goalie Tavin Grant finished with 48 saves in a hard-luck loss.
“We gotta score on our power play,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “We gotta have a goal-scoring mindset from all five guys. I’ve never had that many 5-on-3s for a minute at a time, and those are difference-makers. Those are big kills for them and they do have the No. 1 penalty-killing unit coming in… We had our chances.”
Hart, the Philadelphia Flyers prospect, returned after missing the past month and finished with 23 saves for his second win of the season.
“He definitely gives you a sense of calmness,” Williams said. “He communicates well, plays pucks well. I think it allows our guys to play a little bit looser with the sticks out there. I know he wasn’t maybe tested as much as he may like sometimes, but nonetheless he made some saves when it was timely and it was great to get him back and get that win.”
Ormsby, who was acquired Thursday in a trade with the Seattle Thunderbirds, is a former Everett Youth Hockey player who was drafted by Seattle in the ninth round of the 2014 bantam draft. He started the game and skated mostly on the third line during the game. He finished with three shots and two penalty minutes.
“I think the goal is to come in hot,” Ormsby said. “You want to showcase everything you got, right? Taking a look at the systems and making sure you can grasp them, and take a quick peek at those and try to apply that to the game, it’s not as easy as I thought it would be, for sure.”
The Tips took the lead at 3:48 in the opening period. Cougars defenseman Jack Sander lost control of the puck in the slot in front of the Prince George net and the puck landed on Orrin Centazzo’s stick. Centazzo beat Grant blocker-side for the 1-0 lead.
Prince George drew even at 13:33 in the second. Ethan O’Rourke dug the puck out from the end boards and found Josh Maser in the slot for the game-tying goal.
“That was a defensive zone collapse by all five on the ice,” Williams said. “But I like how we stuck to it. We stuck to the game plan and kept making them turn, and put pucks on net and scored with a minute and a half left.”
Dewar assisted Bajkov’s goal and finished with two points.
Everett killed both of its penalties.
The Tips (7-9-1, 15 points) have now won three consecutive games. They play host to the Portland Winterhawks at 7:05 Saturday in the annual “Pink the Rink” contest.
Silvertips 3, Cougars 1
Prince George 0 1 0 – 1
Everett 1 0 2 – 3
1st Period-1, Everett, Centazzo 3 3:48. Penalties-Moberg Pg (interference), 14:45; Cholowski Pg (delay of game), 15:09; Leppard Pg (hooking), 19:25.
2nd Period-2, Prince George, Maser 6 (O’Rourke, Mikhalchuk), 13:33. Penalties-served by Mikhalchuk Pg (too many men), 0:45; McDonald Pg (embellishment), 2:07; Centazzo Evt (hooking), 2:07; Ormsby Evt (slashing), 9:20; Ryan Pg (major-fighting, game misconduct), 11:39; Fairbrother Evt (major-fighting, game misconduct), 11:39; Mikhalchuk Pg (charging), 15:35; Sander Pg (high sticking), 16:36.
3rd Period-3, Everett, Bajkov 9 (Fonteyne, Dewar), 18:38. 4, Everett, Dewar 10 19:32 (EN). Penalties-Fasko-Rudas Evt (tripping), 6:57; Schoettler Pg (hooking), 9:15; Moberg Pg (tripping), 10:23.
Shots on Goal-Prince George 4-10-10-24. Everett 13-18-19-50.
Power Play Opportunities-Prince George 0 / 2; Everett 0 / 8.
Goalies-Prince George, Grant 4-4-2-0 (49 shots-47 saves). Everett, Hart 2-1-0-0 (24 shots-23 saves).