Everett eked out a 6-5 win against Vancouver, by all accounts the best team in the Western Conference’s B.C. Division.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s win, full of goals and third-period drama:
Scoring depth. Broken record.
Four players recorded multiple points and 10 different players reached the score sheet in the six-goal performance from Everett. It’s the emergence of depth, which is yet another welcome sign for Everett.
Earlier in the year, the Silvertips were winning games with team defense, stout goaltending and whatever it’s top-six forward group would provide. Marginal contributions from secondary scoring were just gravy.
But as the Silvertips coaching staff will remind you, a full season with just the Connor Dewar’s and Riley Sutter’s of the world being the only offensive threats is troublesome. Everett’s depth has answered the call recently, and it’s led to more balanced wins.
“(It’s encouraging), especially this time of year,” head coach Dennis Williams said. “In these type of games, our high-number minutes guys are playing a lot of minutes, so when our other guys can chip in and give them a break, it’s really important. Again, it’s good when everyone can chip and score some goals and grow some confidence throughout the game. It was a big goal from Luke there and his group.”
Everett’s top-six forward group has consisted of Connor Dewar, Riley Sutter, Sean Richards, Bryce Kindopp and Martin Fasko-Rudas, with the sixth spot being a bit of a revolving door throughout game. Most of it has to do with the fact that it’s hard to skate with high-energy players that see ample ice time for 60 minutes, but Williams has been encouraged with how players like Dawson Butt and Luke Ormsby, thought of as solely checking-line contributors last season, are playing with Everett’s elite forwards.
“Anytime you get to play with guys like Sutter or Dewar, you have to say just play your game. That’s why you’re up there,” Williams said. “You’re not up there to toe drag and make blueline type plays, you’re there to compliment them. I thought Dawson has done a good job of that. We tried other guys, and we played Luke up there and he does a good job.
“We don’t have set lines at all. Everyone talks about one-through-four. We don’t have that on our team right now. Everyone is asked to play every position. (Dewar) plays wing, plays center. Kindopp plays his offside. We’re just trying to compete and get wins.”
There’s been no buyer’s remorse on Artyom Minulin.
The overage defender was the centerpiece of a monster Halloween trade the Silvertips pulled off with Swift Current on Oct. 31. In his fifth game of the season, he put together a gem, tying a career-high with three assists.
“He’s a great player,” Williams emphasized. “He’s one of the headier ‘D’ I’ve ever coached. Sees the ice well, head up, smart play. It’s just his fifth game back and I don’t know how much he’s actually practiced with us for that time. He’s definitely a great addition. He adds a lot of depth to our backend size and we’re going to rely on him quite heavily in five-on-four and five-on-five play.”
The Russian blueliner was out since the Memorial Cup with an upper-body injury and didn’t play an organized game until his Silvertips debut.
David Tendeck had Everett’s number in two early season matchups, saving 57-of-59 shots in a pair of winning efforts.
On Saturday, Everett’s scouting report worked wonders.
It’s more of a testament of the Silvertips’ offensive evolution than regression on Tendeck’s behalf. The Silvertips created stellar chances constantly in the first two periods, in which Everett led shots on goal 28-15, by driving into greasy areas, screening in front of the net and crashing for rebounds. There were a bevy of chances and the Silvertips very well could have buried a few more.
Everett doesn’t possess the offensive crutch it did earlier in the year. But in Junior Hockey, a level that’s founded on growth, that’s to not only be encouraged, but expected.