EVERETT — It didn’t make up for last season, but the Everett Silvertips earned a small measure of revenge Saturday night.
The Tips opened their 2022-23 WHL season by beating the team that upset them in the first round of last season’s playoffs, defeating the Vancouver Giants 4-1 before an enthusiastic crowd of 5,819 at Angel of the Winds Arena.
Vancouver pulled off the biggest upset by points in WHL history when the eighth-seeded Giants knocked off the top-seeded Tips last season. But goals from Jackson Berezowski, Eric Jamieson, Beau Courtney and Roan Woodward, combined with a strong performance in goal by Braden Holt (19 saves), made sure Everett prevailed in the rematch.
So did getting revenge matter to the Tips?
“For sure,” said Berezowski, Everett’s captain, who missed the series because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. “Obviously we all know what happened last year, and the new guys coming in all know what happened, too. We were pretty upset and disappointed last year, it leaves a bitter taste in our mouth. But it was good to not only get revenge, but just to start off on the right foot this year.”
Everett, which iced a young lineup that contained just three top-nine forwards and two top-six defensemen from last season, combined energy on the forecheck with the ability to move the puck quickly out of the defensive end to control the first two periods, building the 4-1 lead. Everett, which finished with a 30-20 shot advantage, then coasted home during a scoreless third.
“I saw a lot of good things and a lot of areas where we need to continue to work at, which you’d expect this time of year,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said. “I think the biggest part for our guys is understanding how hard the league is, how hard it is to play consistently for 60 minutes, and even more so trying to close out wins. I think we sat back on our heels a little in the third, I think it’s a little bit of our youthfulness, but it’s something we can continue to learn on. We’d rather learn from those with two points than without them. Still, there were a lot of positives with those younger guys.”
Jaden Lipinski scored the lone goal for Vancouver (0-1-0-1).
Everett got the season off to the ideal start in the first period, and the identity of the first goal scorer was inevitable as Berezowski, the team’s leading goal scorer from last season, turned in an inch-perfect backdoor pass from Dominik Rymon on the power play just 1 minute, 44 seconds in, giving the Tips a 1-0 lead.
The Tips doubled their lead at 9:40 when Courtney found Jamieson streaking into the offensive zone from his defensive position on the left. Jamieson blew past the defense, and his shot got through Vancouver goaltender Matthew Hutchison to make it 2-0 with his first career WHL goal.
“I just recognized the play and decided it’s a good time to jump up,” Jamieson, a rookie 17-year-old defenseman, said. “I just moved my feet, got up there and put it in the net, I guess.
“(The feeling) was unreal. The fans were going nuts, it was just the best thing ever.”
Vancouver got one back at 4:52 of the second period when, while skating four-on-four, Lipinski got behind the defense and scored past Holt with a slick between-the-legs move to make it 2-1.
But Everett restored its two-goal advantage just 51 seconds later. Courtney hopped off the bench and intercepted a pass for a breakaway, then wired a shot into the far corner to make it 3-1. Then the Tips made it 4-1 at 9:47 when a harmless-looking point shot from Dylan Anderson pinballed off players until it deflected off Woodward’s trailing leg and into the net, sending Hutchison to the bench in favor of Brett Mirwald.
Everett lost the impetus in the third period, but Vancouver wasn’t able to take advantage, and on the rare occasions the Giants managed to put the puck on net Holt was there to make the saves.
Everett played without defenseman Olen Zellweger (Anaheim) and forwards Ryan Hofer (Washington) and Ben Hemmerling (Vegas), who are at NHL training camps. … The Tips, who have five overagers on their roster, chose to dress forwards Berezowski and Jacob Wright and defenseman Anderson on Saturday. Defenseman Aidan Sutter was scratched, while Hofer was unavailable. Everett must get down to three overagers by Oct. 10. … Vancouver was without forward Zach Ostapchuk (Ottawa) and goaltender Jesper Vikman (Vegas), who are still with their NHL teams.