EVERETT — It had been 580 days since the Everett Silvertips last played a game at Angel of the Winds Arena in front of their own fans, and Friday night the Tips gave them plenty to cheer about.
Braden Holt stopped all 23 shots he faced, and Jackson Berezowski scored twice as the Tips defeated the Portland Winterhawks 4-0 in their 2021-22 WHL home opener.
Michal Gut and Alex Swetlikoff also scored for Everett as the Tips improved to 2-0.
“We’ve started really well,” Holt said. “We didn’t have that great of a preseason, but now we’re really jelling as a team, and starting the season off 2-0 is really good for the chemistry in the room. We’re all bonding together like brothers, as we should with a pretty new team here. I’m excited and it’s only going up from here.
“(Getting the shutout feels good,” Holt added. “I thought I was seeing the puck well tonight, but the shutout is a compliment to the whole team. We had a few big blocked shots and they scored a lot of goals for me, so we were feeling pretty confident up and down the lineup tonight.”
Dante Giannuzzi made 22 saves in net for Portland (0-2-0-1).
Everett’s last home game in front of spectators came on March 7, 2020, a 5-2 loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds that ultimately cost the Tips the Scotty Munro Trophy for the league’s best record — Everett fell one point short of Friday night’s opponent Portland. The remainder of the 2019-20 season was shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the entire shortened 2020-21 season was played without fans in the stands.
Technically, Everett did play three preseason games at Angel of the Winds when fans were allowed, but Friday night was the first time it was the real deal, and a crowd of 5,782 was treated to an emphatic Tips victory over a team considered a top contender for the U.S. Division title.
“It was a a team win there,” Berezowski said. “All the way from Holtzy back to our front end, all the guys were going and it was good to see. A lot of the credit is to our fan base there, they gave us energy and that’s what we needed. It’s nice seeing those guys again.”
A feisty first period saw Everett control play early, only to lose momentum by taking penalties. But the Tips did take the lead late on. Holt had just made a sprawling save on Luke Schelter when Everett broke the other direction. Gut carried the puck into the offensive zone on the right, and although his first shot was saved, he got to his own rebound and put it around Giannuzzi to make it 1-0 at 17 minutes, 44 seconds.
Everett doubled its lead at 12:56 of the second period. Gut hacked the puck toward goal and it went airborne, where Berezowski delicately tipped over Giannuzzi and into the net. After a video review to determine whether Berezowski had used a high stick, the goal was upheld to make it 2-0.
Everett put it away with two goals in two minutes midway through the third. First, Swetlikoff latched onto a loose puck, shielded off a defender while streaking down the ice, then beat Giannuzzi stick side at 9:28. Shortly after, Aidan Sutter’s long outlet pass off the boards gave Berezowski a breakaway, and Berezowski also scored stick side, making it 4-0 at 11:13.
Each team was missing one marquee player who is still at an NHL training camp: Everett defenseman Olen Zellweger remains with the Anaheim Ducks while Portland center Seth Jarvis is still with the Carolina Hurricanes. … Before the game the Tips held a banner-raising ceremony to commemorate their 2020-21 U.S. Division championship. It was the franchise’s fifth division title in the past seven seasons and eighth overall since entering the league in 2003.