Silvertips beat Cougars for 4th straight win

EVERETT — Everett Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams has reiterated time and time again about the importance of the middle stanza of a Western Hockey League season.

It’s easy, he says, to get up for the beginning of the season and the final push in the playoffs. But the middle third can be a lull with ample distractions — American Thanksgiving, Christmas break and the World Junior Tournament.

The Silvertips are excelling during what Williams considers the most treacherous stretch of the season, and that excellence continued Saturday night at Angel of the Winds Arena as Everett thumped the Prince George Cougars 6-1 in the two teams’ first meeting of the season.

The Silvertips (29-7-1-1) have won four straight and have claimed at least one point in their last 16 contests.

“Our guys have done a good job,” Williams said. “I think the big part here is (we’re) just really controlling how much time (they’re) on the ice for practice and for workouts and giving them the rest they need. The old saying ‘rest is a weapon,’ that’s big with our guys.”

Bryce Kindopp tallied his 19th goal of the season and his ninth in nine games with 11 minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the first period to provide Everett an early 1-0 lead. The 19-year-old forward ignited the rush with a successful poke-check along the boards, allowing Dawson Butt to corral the puck and eventually feed Kindopp in the slot. Kindopp ripped a shot that knocked Prince George goaltender Isaiah DiLaura’s water bottle off the top of the net.

Kindopp has drawn his coaches’ praise all season long, and the praise amplified after Saturday’s game.

“He’s been awesome,” Williams said. “I challenged our guys before the game that you don’t want to be a passenger on the bus. You want to pitch in, because it’s not fair for guys like Bryce. He pitches in every day, every game.

“He’s one of the heart and souls of the Everett Silvertips. He may not get all the writeups about him or the television stuff, (that) might (go to) some of the other guys, but the value he brings is awesome.”

The Silvertips tacked on another goal 2 minutes, 5 seconds later with Jackson Berezowski’s snipe. The 16-year-old rookie buried a nifty pass from Gage Goncalves, who corralled the puck after Artyom Minulin’s shot was blocked and set up Berezowksi for his seventh goal of the season.

Martin Fasko-Rudas deflected Gianni Fairbrother’s slapshot from the left circle for a power-play goal with 6:13 remaining in the opening period, providing Everett a 3-0 lead. Minulin picked up the secondary assist for his second helper of the game.

Fasko-Rudas potted his second goal of the game just 21 seconds into the second period, wristing a shot past DiLaura’s gloveside on the breakaway to put Everett up 4-0.

The Silvertips are thrilled to see Fasko-Rudas light it up on the scoresheet lately. The 2000-born import forward owns three goals over his last three games and seven over his last nine.

“As a younger guy in the league you do a lot of the things right and you don’t get a chance to score goals,” Silvertips captain Connor Dewar said. “I know that just from my experience as a younger guy. He is doing the right things, using his speed and his skillset, and it’s nice to see him rewarded.”

Prince George’s Ryan Schoettler ended the shutout with a power-play goal with 7:37 remaining in the second period, but Riley Sutter notched his 14th of the season at the 5:16 mark to extend the lead back to four.

Berezowski scored his second goal of the game with 4:34 remaining to push the Silvertips’ lead to 6-1.

The end of the second period got chippy between Dewar and Prince George’s Austin Crossley. Dewar was set off by something and lunged at Crossley, eventually lifting him and driving him into the ice before unleashing punches. Dewar was given an unsportsmanlike conduct and a roughing minor and Crossley two minutes for roughing.

“We have no bad blood with PG. We only see them three or four times a year. I don’t know; it’s probably just a heat of the moment thing,” Dewar said.

Once Dewar served his five minutes and returned to the ice, Crossley and Dewar dropped the gloves again. Dewar was given a fighting major and Crossley was assessed a fighting major, a roughing major and an instigator minor.

Fairbrother and Mike Maclean dropped the gloves in the third period after a cross-check sent Maclean flailing over the boards near the Cougars bench. Mclean retaliated, and both players were given five-minute fighting majors. Fairbrother was assessed an additional cross-checking minor, and Butt was given a game misconduct.

“It’s what happens in those types of games,” Williams said. “You just want to make it out with no suspensions or injuries on both sides of it. It was an emotion(-filled) and heated game, and I was proud to see our guys not get pushed around. It’s been a theme, kind of, in the past, and our guys stuck up for each other and did a good job of letting them know this is our rink and nobody pushes us around.”

It’s unsure if Williams’ team will make it out of Saturday’s game with no injuries or suspensions. Top forwards Sutter and Dewar limped off the ice in the third period and went back to the dressing room to be looked at team trainer Blake Draughon. Dewar eventually returned but Sutter did not.

“I’ll be OK,” Dewar said.

Williams said he was unsure about Sutter’s status.

Max Palaga earned his third win of the season, stopping 24 of 25 shots.

DiLaura made 30 saves for the Cougars.

Minulin finished with three assists.

Next up

The Silvertips take on Tri-City for the first game of 2019 on Jan. 4 in Kennewick.

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