EVERETT — It was a good night to be from the province of Manitoba.
Everett Silvertips players hailing from Canada’s self-described “friendly” province combined for three goals, three assists and 18 saves as the Tips beat the Spokane Chiefs 5-0 Wednesday before 3,225 fans at Xfinity Arena.
Manitoba-born players scored the first three Silvertips goals, including rookie forward Brandson Hein, who opened the scoring in the second period with his first career WHL goal.
“We just joke around about it — the Manitoba boys carried the team,” said goaltender Mario Petit, who saved all 18 shots he faced while combining for the shutout with Dorrin Luding. “It’s just funny how it all worked out tonight.”
The U.S. Division-leading Tips (26-5-6-1, 59 points) won for the second time since returning from the holiday break and improved to 3-1-1 this season against the Chiefs (17-18-5-2, 41 points). Everett did so despite a depleted lineup that lacked veteran defensemen Aaron Irving and Lucas Skrumeda.
As a result the Tips played three 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds among its six defensemen and still managed to limit the Chiefs to 23 shots while snapping a brief two-game losing streak.
“It’s huge,” said Manitoba native Devon Skoleski, who had a goal and an assist. “Now we’ll get some guys back and have more depth in our lineup. But it was good to get this one with our young guys that played on the back end.”
Four of Everett’s five goals came at even strength — something that had been missing in action in the last two games.
“We haven’t been very good even strength,” coach Kevin Constantine said. “That and we weren’t real excited how we started games. So the two biggest focuses going into the game were our start and our play five-on-five. It was a little better tonight.”
Skoleski all but sealed the contest with a short-handed goal on Everett’s first penalty kill of the night at 5:29 in the third when Skoleski parlayed a turnover in the neutral zone into a breakaway. Spokane goalie Dawson Weatherill saved Skoleski’s first shot, but it came right back to the Everett center who beat Weatherill blocker side to make it 3-0.
Jake Christiansen added Everett’s fourth goal with a wrister from the point through traffic on the power play at 8:55 in the third, and Riley Sutter made it 5-0 with a one-timer from the right side of the crease at 12:36.
At that point Constantine pulled Petit despite the shutout still intact to give Luding his first action as a Silvertip. Luding has been with the team for the past month as starter Carter Hart was away with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship, but Luding had yet to play in a game.
“Mario did a great job and Dorrin has been helping us out and we wanted to reward him somehow,” Constantine said. “We didn’t know if we’d get a chance to get him in a game. I didn’t really want to take Mario out with the shutout going either, but Dorrin’s been such a great kid coming here and helping us and filling in for Hart’s departure.”
Luding, a 1999-born netminder from Prince George, saved all five shots he faced in his brief appearance. He is headed back to the West Valley Hawks of the BCMML today as Hart is scheduled to rejoin the team in Kamloops on Friday.
The teams entered the second period knotted at 0-0, but Everett made certain that wouldn’t last long.
Hein put the Tips on the board at the 2:40 mark of the second period. Linemate Bradly Goethals broke the puck free from along the right boards and found Hein with a cross-crease pass that Hein tapped in for a 1-0 lead.
“I just got chills,” said Hein, a native of East St. Paul, Manitoba. “It was pretty exciting, my first WHL goal. Brad just passed me the puck, I took a whack at it and it happened to go in. I can’t even describe it, honestly. It just felt really good.”
Everett pushed the lead to 2-0 when The Pas, Manitoba-born center Connor Dewar fired a wrister through traffic past a screened Weatherill at 11:57 in the second. That’s how it remained at the end of 40 minutes.
The game began with a scoreless and somewhat sluggish opening period that featured just 13 combined shots. The action picked up significantly in the second.
“There is always a crowd and energy factor given by the crowd, so it’s a factor, but we’ve also only played one game in nine days and there is a rhythm and rust factor in that stuff too,” Constantine said. “It’s a combination of more than just one thing.”
Goethals, who hails from Ile-des-Chenes, Manitoba, finished with two assists
The Tips return to action Friday when they travel to Kelowna for a 7 p.m. matchup with the Blazers.
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Silvertips 5, Chiefs 0
Spokane 0 0 0 – 0
Everett 0 2 3 – 5
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Faith Spo (tripping), 17:25.
2nd Period-1, Everett, Hein 1 (Goethals), 2:40. 2, Everett, Dewar 6 (Skoleski), 11:57. Penalties-Faith Spo (tripping), 14:08.
3rd Period-3, Everett, Skoleski 6 (Kindopp, Davis), 5:29 (SH). 4, Everett, Christiansen 3 (Centazzo, Goethals), 8:55 (PP). 5, Everett, Sutter 13 (Tuulola, Richards), 12:36. Penalties-Wylie Evt (holding), 4:42; Zummack Spo (high sticking), 8:43; Walker Evt (hooking), 13:54; Yamamoto Spo (roughing), 18:36; Onyebuchi Evt (roughing), 18:36.
Shots on Goal-Spokane 4-7-12-23. Everett 9-12-13-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Spokane 0 / 2; Everett 1 / 3.
Goalies-Spokane, Weatherill 6-11-3-1 (34 shots-29 saves). Everett, Petit 9-2-2-1 (18 shots-18 saves); Luding 0-0-0-0 (5 shots-5 saves).