This is not the same Vancouver Giants team we saw earlier in the season.
Everett won the first three meetings between the teams, and Vancouver did not look particularly threatening in those games. But the Giants have transformed. Vancouver was physically too much for the Tips to handle tonight, as they dominated the puck battles along the boards and won the races. Vancouver’s forwards were big, strong and physical, and that carried the day for the Giants, who swept the home-and-home set.
It also looks at though the Tips are ready for the Christmas break. Everett is in the midst of five games in seven days to end the first half, and the Tips appear a bit worn down. Having ice-time eaters Mirco Mueller and Manraj Hayer unavailable doesn’t help. Everett’s 16-year-old defensemen have performed admirably so far this season, but they’re experiencing this kind of a heavy schedule for the first time in their lives, and they looked a little more like 16-year-olds tonight.
Everett has two games remaining in the first half and the Tips would like to stop the bleeding as Everett has dropped five of its past six. But it will be no easy task as those final two games come at home against Spokane on Sunday and at Portland on Tuesday.
Finally, former Silvertip Trent Lofthouse scored again against his former team. He has eight goals this season, and three of those have come against Everett. But the Tips can take solace from the fact it isn’t just them. Two more of his goals came against his other former team, Victoria. It seems Lofthouse gets fired up to face his former teams.
Although Vancouver had the physical edge throughout, the score was tied 2-2 going into the third period. But Everett took a penalty in the first minute, and the Giants needed just four seconds to convert as Carter Popoff intercepted the faceoff and immediately forced the puck over Everett goaltender Austin Lotz’s shoulder, giving Vancouver a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
That was the only power play Everett allowed tonight, and the Tips have been extremely disciplined of late. However, that discipline isn’t really working for Everett as, over the past five games, the Tips have allowed opponents to go 4-for-9 on the power play.
First star: Jackson Houck, Vancouver. Two goals and one assist, was a key component in Vancouver’s physical edge.
Second star: Popoff. One goal and one assist, was shifty and made plays.
Third star: Jujhar Khaira, Everett. One goal, tried to match Vancouver’s physicality.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Dalton Sward, Vancouver. One assist, was a demon on the forecheck.
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