The 2016-17 season started with much promise. The Everett Silvertips received a go-ahead goal from co-captain Matt Fonteyne and a storybook tally from debuting rookie Reece Vitelli to take a 2-0 lead over the Portland Winterhawks through the first period.
But there’s a reason 2-0 is considered the most dangerous score in hockey. The Winterhawks came out with a vengeance in the second period with six unanswered goals and took a commanding 6-3 lead into the final period.
Portland went on to win 7-4.
There’s also a reason the Winterhawks are one of the favorite to win the U.S. Division – if not the Western Conference and the WHL titles. They’ve got two NHL first-rounders playing on one line in Kieffer Bellows and Cody Glass, and another first-rounder among their defensive pairings in Finnish blueliner Henri Jokiharju.
It was a group poised to take advantage of a young Silvertips squad accustomed to protecting a lead rather than pushing ahead.
“It just seemed like everyone was too much on (their) heels,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “We have to refocus, reset, come in (today), and learn from (Saturday’s) mistakes and build off it.”
Everett goalie Carter Hart is battling the flu and his presence undoubtedly would have made a difference. So it’s probably best not to rush to judgment after Game 1 of 72.
The Turning Point
The Tips killed a penalty to open the second period. Instead of capitalizing on that momentum, they allowed six straight Portland goals to fall into an ultimately insurmountable 6-3 deficit.
1. Portland F Kieffer Bellows: The WHL newbie had two goals and an assist.
2. Portland F Cody Glass: The first-ever Vegas Golden Knights draftee had a goal and two assists.
3. Everett F Matt Fonteyne: The overage co-captain had two goals
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