Riding a three-game winning streak into Saturday night, the Blazers and their high-flying offence finally met their match in Dustin Wolf and the Everett Silvertips.
Everett jumped out to a 2-0 lead courtesy of Bryce Kindopp’s fourth and fifth goals of the season in the first period, one of which was the result of a costly delay of game penalty taken by Blazers defenceman Trevor Thurston. Kindopp may have started the job for Everett, but Wolf finished it.
In a night that was capped off by Kamloops outshooting the visitors 15-2 in the final period, Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams extracted the positives. “At the end of the day, it’s about finding a way to get those two points, and as I always tell our guys, whether it’s game four or game 30 or 68, they’re all valuable two points. . .”
Williams’ statement may very well become the team’s mantra if they expect to keep pace in the perennial powerhouse that is the U.S Division. Everett, who has now moved back to .500 after Saturday night’s win, was forced to juggle lines in a game that took its toll on both teams.
“As the game went on, we went down to nine forwards for two-thirds of that game,” Williams continued. The second and third [periods], we lost [Gage] Goncalves and [Jackson] Berezowski so a lot of young guys had a lot of different minutes, and you could see we were pretty tired in the third.”
If anything, the injuries to key players only put more emphasis on the Silvertips defence-first approach, especially in the third period. “I don’t think we possessed too much of the zone-time or puck there, but I give our guys a lot of credit, they battled.”
And a battle it was. Blazers left winger Kyrell Sopotyk absorbed a bodycheck early in the second period and exited the ice on his own power but did not return to the game. All injuries considered, Wolf may have fought the hardest, regardless of how easy he made it look.
The 18-year-old showed the Sandman Centre why he is the reigning Western Conference goaltender of the year, stopping 34-of-36 shots and all three Blazers opportunities on the power play.
Connor Zary’s point-streak is now at 12 games with his first period goal.
Caedan Bankier scored his first career WHL goal in the second period.
Max Martin recorded his first point as a Blazer with an assist on Bankier’s first-period tally.
Michael Gut’s first career WHL goal held up as the game winner.
3 stars in the building
3: Dustin Wolf
2: Zane Franklin
1: Bryce Kindopp
DUBNetwork’s 3 stars
3: Connor Zary — You don’t go on a 12-game point streak without consistency game in and game out.
2: Bryce Kindopp — Seven of the 24 Everett shots came off his stick and his two goals were instrumental.
1: Dustin Wolf — Best player on the ice, he was the difference.