EVERETT—The Silvertips walloped the Prince George Cougars, 6-1, on Saturday in the last game of 2018. The Silvertips are riding a four-game winning streak are 14-0-1-1 in their last 16 games.
Here are the three takeaways:
The Everett Silvertips may have struck gold with its new third line.
17-year-old Reece Vitelli centered rookies Gage Goncalves and Jackson Berezowski for the second consecutive game and the results were overwhelmingly positive. The line produced a pair of goals from Berezowski, just a night after Goncalves recorded his first goal of the season on Friday at Spokane.
Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said he challenged the trio before Saturday’s contest and was pleased with how the group answered the bell.
“I said it’s easy to play one good game,” he said. “You become a factor and a dominance if you can keep the consistency night to night. I told them that today will be a true tale, a sign, if you can go back-to-back games, especially with the youthfulness of that line.
“I was really happy to seem them respond the way they did and the next challenge is Friday (at Tri-City).”
The chemistry of that line has been in the making for awhile. Berezowski and Goncalves said they often carpool to school with Vitelli every morning and the younger players, which also includes 17-year-olds Conrad Mitchell and Jalen Price, hang out off the ice.
“We kind of became close through that and now it’s translating on the ice,” Berezowski said.
Vitelli and Berezowski have been frequent contributors all season long, but Goncalves has taken major steps lately. He’s earned more ice time with his overall solid play.
“It’s not so much the goals,” Williams said. “I value more the wall battles, the physicality, the pucks out, pucks deep stuff. The goal scoring is a byproduct of playing the game right. I tell our guys if you play the game right and you play the game honestly, you’ll probably generate some offense out of it. Just to see him take those steps (is great).”
More scoring depth is an encouraging revelation for the Silvertips.
“It really helps with our depth to have them rolling,” Dewar said. “The challenge for them for young guys is to find consistency and for them to do that night-in and night-out, even when they get thrown out there with a harder matchup they have to be able to handle it.
“They’re just coming along. They’re skating well, they are finding confidence. When you play together you’ll find chemistry eventually and they’re playing well.”
Palaga still earning trust
Max Palaga picked up his third win of the season, stopping 24-of-25 shots. He made some big saves to allow Everett maintain its lead.
It wasn’t a no-brainer to put Palaga between the pipes.
“He’s got to work harder,” Williams said. “I told him that. He didn’t do nothing over break and I was really tossed about playing him or not and I talked to our goalie coach about it, because we don’t want to reward the players that aren’t doing the work off the ice. When you go home from break there are expectations with that. It’s nice that he got the win and it’s important as we move forward as well.”
Minulin continues steady play
Overage defenseman Artyom Minulin finished with a quiet three assists amidst the multi-goal outings and the scraps. Williams continues to be impressed with his composure on the ice.
“He’s getting better and better. I think we forget that he missed the better first half of the (first) half of the season. … I think he’s going to escalate and he continues to get things going. It was nice to see him get rewarded tonight. He got shots to the net and guys hanging out net front can bat out in a goal or two.”
1. Martin Fasko-Rudas: The 2000-born import forward was all over the ice and potted two goals in a game for the second time in his career (last Nov. 25 at Portland).
2. Jackson Berezowski: The rookie forward notched his first multi-goal game of his career.
3. Artyom Minulin: The import forward chipped in a career-high three assists for the eighth time in his four-year WHL career.
General comments from Williams: “I thought we played a good hockey game. The guys competed really hard and (we) used a lot of guys in different situations again. We were short up front and our guys did a good job of adjusting whether it was left wing, right wing, center or wherever we wanted them to go. I thought it was an overall good outing for our guys.”
General comments from Dewar: “I thought we came out skating and overwhelmed them with our tenacity on the forecheck … I think that’s our identity as a team.”
Goncalves on scoring his first goal on Friday: “It takes a lot of stress off the shoulders, (I) can play with a little bit more confidence now that I got that one out of the way,” Goncalves said.”
Williams on Goncalves’ role moving forward: “I don’t think he’s a centerman. That’s a tough position, especially for a first-year player. I had Bryce Kindopp play center for most of the third, and it’s because he’s responsible in the D-zone.
Berezowski on development of his line: “Big thing is our confidence is good after the break. We’re fresh and everything is going our way now, which is good because we can contribute to the team success,” Berezowski said.