EVERETT—The Silvertips fell to the Thunderbirds, 3-2, in overtime in a tightly contested game. After losing the first six matchups against Everett, Seattle has won two straight against the Silvertips. Read the game story here.
Here are the three takeaways:
Price finding stride
Everett is thin at forward, and with a lack of numbers, depth players are required to step up.
Enter: Jalen Price.
The 2001-born rookie forward started the game on Everett’s top line on the right wing, with Zack Andrusiak, a big opportunity for Price, who’s developed in the Silvertips’ bottom-six for the majority of the season. Price capitalized on his chance, turning in his sixth goal of the season by pouncing on a turnover in Seattle’s zone and finishing high over Roddy Ross’ glove to put the Silvertips up 2-1 in the second.
“It was a nice goal by him to capitalize on that turnover and went high glove,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “It’s a big confidence booster, he’s playing well. We need guys like that to continue to build off that and play the game right.”
The Campbell River, British Columbia native recorded a goal and an assist against Prince George on Monday, his second multi-point game of his career (the other being at Kamloops on Nov. 11).
Price said he met with Williams before Saturday’s game and discussed his play.
“I had a good talk with Willy (Williams) and he said I was playing well lately,” Price said. “It was one of the reasons why I was there, just making the right plays.”
Kindopp forced up the middle
Bryce Kindopp hasn’t played a game at center in his junior career — or possibly his life, but with Connor Dewar out with an upper-body injury, who was filling in as a top-six center for Everett, Kindopp moved to the middle to center Everett’s top line of Andrusiak and Price.
“It’s different for sure,” Kindopp said. “I think I struggled on the faceoffs for sure, it’s something that I have to work on.”
The 19-year-old forward struggled in the faceoff circle against Seattle, going 5-of-17 — Seattle boasts two stellar faceoff guys, Matthew Wedman (53.8 percent) and Noah Philp (55 percent). But Kindopp was solid in the faceoff cirlce against Prince George on Monday and Tuesday, going 8-for-18 combined over those two games.
“As good as expected,” Williams said of Kindopp’s play at center. “I can’t put too many expectations on someone that hasn’t played a minute at center in his life. We play him there because we have the most trust in him in the ‘D’ zone. It’s actually a bump to him, I told him, because he’s a guy that won’t cheat the game and do what’s right. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is.”
The Silvertips’ lines have been jumbled the entire season — the forward combinations rarely finish the way they started throughout the course of the game, and that will continue for the forseeable future. At least until Everett is back at full strength up front, something that hasn’t been the case since Sutter went out with a lower-body injury on Dec. 29.
“If you watch our games, we don’t have a top line,” Williams said. “We have a mixed bags of players we’re trying to piece together with short numbers.”
Silvertips general manger Garry Davidson confirmed on Friday that Dewar has been working with an upper-body injury and is unlikely to Saturday. With Dewar out, who’s played center for the majority of the season despite being more comfortable along the wall, Kindopp will likely continue to see time at center for Everett moving forward.
Vitelli rising play
Speaking of centers, the only player in Everett’s lineup who’s consistently been written in the lineup up the middle from the start fo the season to now is Reece Vitelli.
The Silvertips can rely on consistency with Vitelli. But lately, his game is rising.
“He’s played really well,” Williams said. “(He) played really at (Prince George) too. He was one of our better players. He’s taken strides the last two weeks for us, confidence wise, skating with the puck. I’d like to see him get to the net more, I think that’s the next step in his game is playing inside the dots more, but he’s done a good job. He’s on the penalty kill now.”
Vitelli recorded three goals over two games against Prince George on Monday and Tuesday and five of his seven goals this season have come after the Jan. 10 trade deadline.
Horton’s three stars
1. Jarret Tyszka: The Canadiens prospect tallied the game-winning goal in overtime and assisted on another in his seventh multi-point game of the season.
2. Roddy Ross: After 39-save performance against the Silvertips on Friday, the rookie netminder has stopped 85 saves in two recent wins over Everett
3. Noah Philp: Chipped in two assists and went 18-of-30 in the faceoff circle for the Thunderbirds.