The Everett Silvertips may be cresting at the perfect time.
The Silvertips capped off the weekend slate with an emphatic 6-2 victory over the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks on Sunday. The win came a day after Everett snapped the Vancouver Giants’ 11-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory at Angel of the Winds Arena.
With Portland falling to Seattle on Saturday and losing to Everett on Sunday, the Silvertips made up four points in the standings and now trail the Winterhawks by just three points with 12 regular-season games remaining. Everett has a game in hand.
After struggling mightily against Portland earlier in the season, the Silvertips have displayed mastery over the Winterhawks, with three consecutive wins after Everett lost the first three head-to-head matchups.
After scoring the game-winner in Saturday’s game, Everett forward Gage Goncalves struck just 25 seconds into Sunday’s contest to spark a three-goal first period. Cole Fonstad and Bryce Kindopp also scored in the period
Ethan Regnier scored a short-handed goal in the second period, and Brendan Lee and Kasper Puutio netted goals in the third to finish the rout.
Goncalves and Kindopp led the Silvertips with a goal and an assist each. Wyatte Wylie and Jake Christiansen each chipped in a pair of assists.
A giant third
It took a herculean third period for the Silvertips to prevail, 2-1, over the Vancouver Giants on Saturday.
A back-and-forth opening 40 minutes culminated with the ice almost entirely tilted in Everett’s favor, with the Silvertips outshooting the Giants 17-2 in the final stanza.
“I thought we were really good in the third,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “I thought everyone was bought in, we were all in sync. Our (defenseman) had great gaps, our forwards were tracking hard with great sticks. We weren’t overhandling pucks. We were moving pucks faster.
“Like I told our group, that was one of the better thirds we’ve played in quite some time.”
Empty-net goals typically don’t warrant much praise, but Puutio scored one worthy of a highlight reel Friday night against Prince George.
The Silvertips import defenseman, acquired in a deal with Swift Current at the trade deadline, flung a puck from his own goal line into the back of the Cougars’ empty net to ice a 4-2 win. The puck went high enough that it took only one hop, just a hair before or right on the goal line, before skipping in.
— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) February 22, 2020
“The first time, I missed it,” said Puutio, referring to when he missed an empty net earlier in the period. “I told myself that this time I wasn’t going to miss it.”
Puutio, however, wasn’t confident the saucer down the ice would result in his third goal of the season.
“It went pretty high, I wasn’t sure if it was going to go in,” he said.
Holt quickly shakes off rust
Being Dustin Wolf’s backup isn’t an easy job.
But Braden Holt, the Silvertips 16-year-old rookie goaltender, demonstrated poise in his first start since Jan. 4 by stopping 27 of 29 shots in the win over Prince George.
“(I felt) pretty rested,” Holt said. “More excited nervous than jittery nervous. I’ve been in the net enough now that I’m used to that feeling. It was nice to be in the net for a home game, especially against a good team.”
With two goals over the weekend, Kindopp has 35 this season and 105 goals in his WHL career. He needs seven more over the next 12 regular-season games to tie Patrick Bajkov’s Silvertips record for career goals with 112.
— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) February 23, 2020
In case you missed it
The Silvertips set a franchise record for the least amount of shots allowed in a game by allowing just 10 in a 6-0 win over Moose Jaw on Wednesday.
Williams on Goncalves’ performance Saturday: “I thought he played really well. I thought he was working really hard tonight. A lot more focused on playing without the puck and I always tell you, when guys do that, I think they get rewarded and he was rewarded tonight.”
Down the pike
The Silvertips travel to Tri-City for a date with the Americans, the U.S. Division bottom feeders, on Wednesday and then head to Kelowna for a tilt with the Rockets. Everett wraps up an eight-games-in-11-days stretch by hosting Kelowna on Saturday and Portland on Sunday.
Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @JoshHortonEDH