By Staci C. – Silvertips Staff Writer
EVERETT, Wash. – The Everett Silvertips came into Opening Night winners in three of the last four events, and armed with a returning 20-year core poised to make a strong statement out of the gate. The script went to the Tips liking in the first 20 minutes, until the second period turned sour.
The Ups: The penalty kill is still clean and still excellent. Ranked at the top last season, Everett killed three penalties with ease despite lots of offensive power from Portland. A newcomer, Reece Vitelli, scored the first goal of his WHL career. Newly named co-captain, Matt Fonteyne, picked up where he left off last season and scored a pair of beautiful goals. First periods continue to go very well for the Silvertips, as that was a theme that we saw from last season as well. Head Coach Dennis Williams was asked about the positive moments in the game and he commented.
“We skated well, we tracked pucks well”, said Williams “In the third it was 6-2 at that time but we stated generating more opportunities and putting pucks on net and that carried over onto the power play. When we can skate, we’re a good hockey club.”
Williams believed that the team won the first period handedly, although the outcome of the second and third were not ideal.
The Downs: Everett had 10 chances on the power play and only generated one goal, unable breakthrough to the inside and held on the perimeter. Portland’s impressive penalty kill kept the Tips at bay but the Tips left room for improvement.
“We did a nice job passing around the puck on the outside but we need guys to take it to the net and go to those tough areas”, said Williams. “If we aren’t going to go to those tough areas and get bodies there or pucks there, then we aren’t going to score.”
The Unpleasant: Everett gave up six goals in the second period, tying a franchise record. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong, and despite opportunities present, they were unable to climb out of the hole.
“It was a snowball effect”, said Williams “They [Winterhawks] shot pucks. Once they got one in the second, it seemed like everyone was too much on their heels. You see this all the time: you get down in a game, everyone becomes individuals and they want to play their own game. They panic. We started to get careless turnovers because we were pressing too much and trying to make these nice plays coming through.”
Matt Fonteyne also believed that “Fancy” Took over once the second period started unraveling.
“Everyone was trying to go for a touchdown rather than taking it one shift at a time,” said Fonteyne.
“With our young group we have to learn from this. We have to be able to get refocused, reset tomorrow. Learn from tonight’s mistakes and build off of it,” Williams said.
It’s true. The Tips can’t dwell on this game for too long as a 4:05 date with Tri-City looms in less than 24 hours. But it can’t be forgotten what worked, and what didn’t work tonight in order to improve tomorrow.