Here are the three takeaways:
Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams will reject any notion that Reece Vitelli is playing better lately. The 17-year-old rookie has been playing well all year, he says.
But from a scoring perspective, Vitelli has been more productive lately, recording six points over his last four games.
“I think what happens is people start to see the rewards of it,” Williams said. “But if you’ve followed him all year, you’ll know he’s been one of our more consistent players and it’s starting to come together for him offensively.”
Vitelli’s consistency has been crucial to Everett’s success this season because he’s been the only true center in Everett’s lineup from the start of the season on. Riley Sutter has been out with a lower body injury since Dec. 29. Max Patterson is a center, but wasn’t acquired until November. Connor Dewar has played a lionshare of shifts up the middle, but his true position is along the left wall.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba native has played in his second year in the league tallying 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 58 games.
“I’m just playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Vitelli said. “Pucks are bouncing my way. Just a great week of hockey.”
He showed why it’s been a great week of hockey from Vitelli on a beautiful cross-ice feed while playing on the Silvertips’ second power-play unit, setting up Robbie Holmes for his second goal in an Everett uniform.
“Really nice play,” Williams said. “Rolled up, found the seam backdoor and made a good, hard pass. And what a finish by Holmes.”
Blueline chips in offensively
Dennis Williams mentioned after Friday night’s game that it would be important for the Silvertips’ defensive core to chip in more offensively.
The Silvertips’ blueline accomplished that on Saturday, as Wyatte Wylie tallied his second goal in as many nights and five of the six other defensemen that dressed for Everett tallied at least a point against the Cougars.
“We’ve said all along we’ve got to contribute offensively from our backend and they’re obviously contributing as of late,” Williams said.
Gianni Fairbrother in particular had a big night, chipping in three assists. His heavy shot from the point led directly to a pair of goals — Jackson Berezowski’s rebound goal in the first period to put Everett up 3-0 and Kindopp’s goal to put Everett up 5-1 were set up on rebounds due to a shot from Fairbrother.
“When you shoot pucks as hard as (Fairbrother) does and gets them by that first layer, even if that doesn’t go in, that’s a ricochet down there and pucks are going to be dropping, falling in,” Williams said.
Berezowski breaks slump
It seems outlandish to expect a 16-year-old rookie to score goals at a high clip, but Jackson Berezowski has been unusually quiet on the scoresheet lately after potting nine goals leading up the Jan. 4. His deflection goal tonight broke a 13-game stretch without a goal and a nine-game stretch without a point.
The 2002-born winger was all over the ice and creating promising chances, firing six shots on Saturday, second on the Silvertips behind Zack Andrusiak’s seven.
“It was good to get the monkey off the back for sure,” Berezowski said.
The Yorkton, Saskatchewan native is putting together an impressive rookie campaign with 11 goals and four assists in 57 games. His 11 goals leads all Silvertips’ first-year players and is fifth in the league amongst 2002-born players.
Horton’s three stars
1. Bryce Kindopp: His two late goals sealed it for the Silvertips.
2. Gianni Fairbrother: Was terrific in funneling pucks to the net en route to three assists.
3. Reece Vitelli: Recorded his fifth multi-point game of the season with two assists.