First, let’s talk about Kyle Beach.
I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of reception Beach was going to receive from the Everett fans. Well, he was treated as if he was still a member of the Tips. Approximately 20 fans donning Beach jerseys lined up along the glass behind the Lethbridge goal during warm-ups, and several others brought signs welcoming him back — as well as a couple above the Lethbridge penalty box reserving it for Beach. He then got a big cheer when he was announced for Lethbridge’s starting lineup. He did, however, hear a couple boos when he first touched the puck. Then when he was announced as the game’s third star he got another big cheer, and he acknowledged the fans in return.
And his game? He was on his best behavior tonight. Only one penalty, that coming when he was digging a little too hard for a rebound, and no other signs of drama. And he played well, tallying a goal and two assists.
As for the game itself, I had visions of that 9-1 home loss to Spokane when the Tips fell behind 4-0 early in the second period. But Everett showed a lot of fight in pulling back within one. The Tips had chances to tie it late, and I still can’t believe Shane Harper almost got a breakaway in the final 10 seconds when the Tips were down five-on-three.
Ultimately, Everett couldn’t overcome bad turnovers and Lethbridge’s legion of doom line of Beach, Dwight King and Carter Ashton. Two of Lethbridge’s goals came directly on terrible Everett turnovers deep in its own end, and the Beach-King-Ashton line was physically dominating.
Oddly enough, the game turned on Lethbridge’s fourth goal, when Everett’s Paul Van de Velde passed it straight to Lethbridge’s Brody Sutter from behind his own net make it 4-0. Everett goalie Thomas Heemskerk was pulled in favor of Kent Simpson, and the Tips immediately scored two goals to make it a game again and bring the crowd alive. Unfortunately for Everett, the Tips were too far behind for the turn to be decisive.
HIT OF THE DAY
No individual hit blew me away, but Lethbridge’s Mitch Versteeg had several good hits, so he gets the nod tonight.
First star: Ashton. A goal and an assist, he looked like a first-round NHL draft pick tonight.
Second star: Byron Froese, Everett. Two assists as the kid line appears to be getting its second wind.
Third star: Beach. His goal ended up being the game winner.
The Herald’s honorable mention: King. One assist, this guy is an absolute beast.
Everett is down to just one player out injured — left wing Daniel Bartek is still sidelined with his foot fracture. Forward Markus McCrea and defensemen Drew McDermott and Paul Sohor were healthy scratches.
Lethbridge was missing defenseman Eric Mestery, who’s out with a concussion. Defensemen Derek Ryckman and Cody Castro were healthy scratches as the Hurricanes dressed just five defenseman.