On Saturday night the Everett Silvertips unleashed the power kill.
Everett’s penalty-killing unit set a new franchise record when it scored three short-handed goals during the Tips’ 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“That was really neat to be a part of,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “I don’t recall ever being part of a game where we scored three short-handed goals.”
Everett’s penalty kill has been limited in effectiveness this season. The Tips currently rank 14th in the 22-team WHL while short-handed, killing off just 76.8% of opposition power plays.
But against the Giants the Tips weren’t just successful in eliminating Vancouver power plays, they turned defense into offense. Each of the game’s first three goals were scored by Everett, and all three were scored while short-handed as the Tips broke on rushes and found the net during each of the Giants’ first three power plays.
The first came midway through the first period as Niko Tsakumis’ outlet pass gave Beau Courtney room to carry the puck up the ice. Courtney’s shot went wide, but Austin Roest collected the rebound off the back boards and scored past Giants goaltender Matthew Hutchison to make it 1-0.
The second came early in the second period, and again it was Roest who scored. Roest and Teague Patton raced up ice two-on-two, crossed one another as they entered the offensive zone, then Roest lifted a backhanded shot into the top corner to make it 2-0.
The final one came midway through the second. Dominik Rymon stole the puck and motored up the ice with Eric Jamieson in pursuit. Rymon’s shot was saved by Hutchison, but Jamieson shoveled in the rebound to make it 3-0.
“It’s funny because last week I talked with Mike Field, who runs our penalty kill, about changing things up,” Williams said. “I didn’t think our penalty kill had been very good the last few weeks, we’d struggled letting in about one power-play goal a game. So we actually worked on a change midweek, but it wasn’t ready to be brought in, our guys didn’t look comfortable or natural with it. So we went back to our old way, we were maybe a little more aggressive, but that was it. Maybe it was a good thing we didn’t change it.
“I think what happened was our guys were fresh,” Williams continued. “The previous week we’d played four in five, and we’ve been working with a short bench because of injuries. Maybe our lack of success on the PK was not so much due to the system, but to the tiredness of the players. If you’re going to be aggressive on the PK you really have to be all-in, or else you really have to be back in the shot-blocking lanes. Anywhere in between is where failure sets in, you kind of get caught and seams open up. I thought this weekend the guys did a really good job anticipating and jumping on loose pucks.”
Everett scored two short-handed goals in a game on many occasions during its first 20 seasons of existence, but never three. Roest also matched four other Tips (John Lammers, Kyle Beach, Daniel Bartek, Tyler Maxwell) in scoring twice in one game while on the penalty kill.
The victory over Vancouver finished off a perfect weekend for Everett, which also topped Kelowna 2-1 at home on Friday. The two victories improved the Tips’ record to 11-7-1-0, and with 23 points Everett is tied for second in the U.S. Division, two points behind leader Portland.
Three stars of the week
Third star: Jamieson. The 18-year-old defenseman had a goal and an assist against Vancouver, with his goal being the rare short-handed tally by a d-man. He also squeezed off nine shots on goal across the two games as he’s taken on added responsibilities with Kaden Hammell out injured.
Second star: Ben Hemmerling. The 19-year-old winger had a goal and two assists across the three games. He was the difference maker against Kelowna, as he set up Everett’s first goal after a steal, then scored the second on a strong move toward goal off the rush.
First star: Roest. The 19-year-old forward potted three goals in the two contests, including the two short-handers that opened the scoring against Vancouver. The three goals gave Roest 11 on the season, moving him into the team lead.
The week ahead
It’s a busy week ahead for Everett as the Tips play four games in five days.
It begins Wednesday when Everett welcomes Prince Albert to town. The Raiders (11-9-0-1) are the second East Division team to visit this season. Prince Albert is led by 20-year-old forward Sloan Stanick (six goals, 20 assists), who is a former Everett prospects draft pick, while 17-year-old forward Ryder Ritchie (11 goals, 12 assists) is considered a top prospect for the 2024 NHL draft.
Everett then plays a home-and-home against Seattle on Friday and Saturday, with the first game at Angel of the Winds and the second in Kent. The Thunderbirds (8-5-1-0) are off to a solid start despite heavy player attrition from last year’s WHL championship team. Twenty-year-old defenseman Jermey Hanzel (five goals, nine assists) is one of the few holdovers.
The week wraps up with a game at U.S. Division-leading Portland on Sunday. The Tips faced the Winterhawks (12-4-0-1) twice already this season, losing both and being outscored 9-2. Overage forward Gabe Klassen (12 goals, 19 assists) and 19-year-old defenseman Luca Cagnoni (three goals, 22 assists) pace Portland.