Silvertips’ Jake Christiansen skates with the puck toward the goal during the game against the Kamloops Blazers on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Silvertips’ Jake Christiansen skates with the puck toward the goal during the game against the Kamloops Blazers on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Silvertips top Blazers to complete regular-season sweep

Goaltender Max Palaga turns away 37 shots against his former team in a 5-1 victory

EVERETT — Silvertips goaltender Max Palaga isn’t going to beat around the bush. Games like Sunday’s are a little more meaningful to him.

Palaga, who was traded from Kamloops to Everett this season, made 37 saves against his former team as the Silvertips drubbed the Blazers, 5-1, in Western Hockey League action Sunday at Angel of the Winds Arena.

“It’s awesome,” Palaga said. “I’d like to say it’s just another game but it isn’t. Playing your former team, it’s not always the same. But it felt pretty good and the guys in front of me did a good job of keeping everything outside and making my job easy.

“My confidence keeps going up every game, every day.”

Palaga was acquired from the Blazers in October to back up Dustin Wolf. Palaga was the odd-man out with the Blazers after 16-year-old Dylan Garand made the opening roster to backup Vegas prospect Dylan Ferguson. Palaga was sent to the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League, where he posted a 1.77 goals against average.

He’s appeared in six games this season for the Silvertips and has been rock solid, posting a .950 save percentage and a 1.56 goals against average.

“Anytime you can let Max go in there and help contribute to a win, it’s good depth,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “I don’t know if he’s been a big surprise. You’re in the Western Hockey League, you have to stop pucks. I know our guys are excited to go in and play hard for him and contribute to those wins and overall I thought our players did a good job, and when there were breakdowns, Max did a good job tonight for sure.”

The Silvertips have won 11 consecutive home games and 15 of their past 18 overall.

Zack Andrusiak put Everett up early with a goal at the 7:01 mark of the first period. The newly acquired forward deflected a shot from Jake Christiansen past Garand for his 29th goal of the season and his eighth in five games.

A Wyatte Wylie snapshot from the point found its way to the back of the net to put Everett up 2-0 at the 8:44 mark of the first. Andrusiak screened Garand netfront to block his vision and aid Wylie’s goal.

Connor Dewar joined the party with 12:09 remaining in the second period with a power-play goal. The 19-year-old forward skated into the slot and roofed a shot over Garand’s left shoulder for his 28th goal of the year and his fourth in five games.

Conrad Mitchell recorded his first WHL goal with 10:41 remaining in the second period. All the 17-year-old rookie had to do was tap in a centering pass from fellow first-year player Jalen Price over Garand.

Gianni Fairbrother closed out Everett’s scoring with a shot that whizzed over Garand’s glove to put Everett up 5-0. It was Fairbrother’s fifth goal of the season.

Kamloops’ Brodi Stuart potted a power-play goal at the 13:48 mark of the third to end the shutout.

The Silvertips finished their four-game regular-season series with Kamloops at 4-0. They outscored the Blazers 23-6.

“It wasn’t the ideal third period for us,” Williams said. “As coaches you want to strive to play the best 60 minutes, and I don’t think we played much the last period. But we battled the first 40 and to be able to get two out of the three (games over the weekend) says a lot about our group.”

Next up

The Silvertips travel to Kelowna for a game against the Rockets on Wednesday.

Kamloops 0 0 1—1

Everett 2 3 0—5

1st Period—1, Everett, Andrusiak 29 (Christiansen, Patterson), 7:01. 2, Everett, Wylie 7 (Seeley, Patterson), 8:44. Penalties-No Penalties

2nd Period—3, Everett, Dewar 28 (Wylie), 7:51 (PP). 4, Everett, Mitchell 1 (Price, Dewar), 9:19. 5, Everett, Fairbrother 5 (Kindopp, Khaira), 17:52. Penalties-Franklin Kam (tripping), 6:20; Seeley Evt (tripping), 15:28.

3rd Period—6, Kamloops, Stuart 12 (Schmiemann, Centazzo), 13:48 (PP). Penalties-Khaira Evt (slashing), 13:06; Onyebuchi Kam (boarding), 14:40; Franklin Kam (roughing, roughing, 10-minute misconduct), 18:38; Zary Kam (roughing), 18:38; Khaira Evt (roughing), 18:38; Vitelli Evt (roughing), 18:38.

Shots on Goal—Kamloops 15-7-16-38. Everett 16-18-4-38.

Power Play Opportunities—Kamloops 1/2; Everett 1/3.

Goalies—Kamloops, Garand 6-4-0-1 (38 shots-33 saves). Everett, Palaga 4-0-0-1 (38 shots-37 saves).

A—4,723

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