EVERETT — Connor Dewar is gone. So are Riley Sutter and Zack Andrusiak from last year’s regular season U.S. Division championship team.
Somewhat lost in the shuffle, Bryce Kindopp, the Silvertips’ leading goal scorer from last season, is still in Everett. The overage forward demonstrated on Saturday he’s more than capable of being the Silvertips’ offensive engine in 2019-2020.
The newly minted captain turned in a four-point night, two goals and two assists, to power Everett (1-1-0) to a 6-0 rout over Victoria (0-1-0) on Saturday night.
“He was unbelievable,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “Bryce has been our leader, through and through, and we’ve said that all throughout the preseason.”
Kindopp, who potted 39 goals last season, was active throughout the course of the game, firing nine shots on net.
The Lloydminster, Alberta native’s rise up Everett’s lineup over the years isn’t uncommon, but it’s one of patience and determination.
Kindopp didn’t make the team as a 16-year-old and was a marginal contributor as a 17-year-old in his first WHL season. He rose to Everett’s third line during the Silvertips’ WHL Finals run in 2017-2018 before eventually breaking out in 2018-2019, vaulting on to the NHL radar.
“It’s been a cool experience year for year,” Kindopp said. “Looking back on my time here, it’s cool that I grinded my way up to this position. It’s pretty surreal, for sure.”
Kindopp wasn’t drafted in the 2019 NHL draft, but participated with the Colorado Avalanche for their development camp in June and subsequently at the Avalanche’s training camp as an amateur tryout.
While he didn’t earn a contract, Kindopp came back ready to step into an increased role, if that was possible from last season.
“He’s elevated. He’s a step quicker, he’s a step stronger,” Williams said. “Those goals, to get the puck up that quick, shows the strength and what he’s been able to do this summer. He hasn’t changed the way he’s played. To me, he’s just a step quicker. That’s how he played last year. But he’s doing a great job of driving wide and getting to the net. He’s been a trooper.”
Kindopp’s elevated his game, and the Silvertips will need him to if Everett plans on contending this season.
He’s relishing for the opportunity.
“I’m trying to take it all in for sure,” Kindopp said. “I’m not trying to do too much, just do what I always do and I think it will all work out.”
The score hardly shows it, but for the opening 10 minutes of the game, Victoria dictated play, recording four shots on net to the Silvertips’ zero.
“It took us a little bit,” Williams said. “I definitely thought the first 10 minutes, (Victoria) brought it to us and had us on our heals. We made some good choices with the puck, gave up some breakaways there and had to battle through a little bit.”
Thankfully for the Silvertips, Wolf turned away plenty of juicy scoring chances for Everett, keeping the score 0-0.
Then, Everett tilted the ice in its favor for good.
Wyatte Wylie eventually opened the floodgates with a power-play goal at 15:26 in the first. Kindopp wasted no time adding an insurance goal in the second, potting one 17 seconds into the period to put the Silvertips up 2-0.
Justyn Gurney scored at 9:30 in the second, Max Patterson chipped in at 7:21 in the third and Kindopp and Wylie each tallied their second goals of the game after that to put the game far out of Victoria’s reach.
—Gage Goncalves also contributed a four-point night with a quartet of assists, including each of the passes that led directly to both of Kindopp’s goals.
—Wylie scored a pair of goals for the Silvertips. It was a bounceback game for Wylie, according to Williams.
“I thought he did a complete 180 of his game,” Williams said. “I didn’t think he was very good last night and I think he’ll be the first to tell you that. He played tonight the way we expect him to play: to dominate the ‘D’ zone and chip in offensively. … I thought his game was really good today. Sound, strong, inside the dots, played physical.”
—Wolf, who recorded seven shutouts last season, stopped all 26 shots he faced to record his first of 2019.
The 2000-born netminder saved 20-of-23 of shots in a loss to Tri-City, a modest effort. He responded on Saturday night with stingy performance between the pipes for Everett.
“I’ve seen him responded that way almost after every loss,” Williams said. “It’s hard not to come back with an elite goalie like that. We didn’t even talk about last night with him today. He really reset, refocused and he didn’t see a ton of action there, but when he did, he was solid.”
Wolf recorded his 12th career shutout on Saturday, tying him with Michael Wall for third on Everett’s franchise leaderboard.
“It’s pretty cool,” Wolf said. “I mean every day, you’re trying to stop as many pucks as you can and if keep them all out of the net, that’s great. You definitely don’t do it without the guys in front of you, but it’s just a testament of our team playing a full 60 minutes.”
THAT’S A FIRST
Silvertips forward Jack Lambert picked up the secondary assist on Max Patterson’s goal in the third. It was the 16-year-old rookie’s first career WHL point.
— Import rookie Michal Gut did not dress for the Silvertips on Saturday after leaving the first period of Friday’s loss against Tri-City with an upper-body injury.
— Conrad Mitchell left the game in the third period. Williams said he wasn’t informed if it was an injury or something else.
The Silvertips travel to the Prospera Place next Saturday for a tilt with the 2020 Memorial Cup hosts, the Kelowna Rockets.