Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dominic Zwerger leads Everett charge in 4-1 win over Portland

Philadelphia Flyers' prospect and Everett Silvertips' goalie Carter Hart had a poor outing the last time he faced the Portland Winterhawks back on February third. He was yanked from the net after giving up three goals on just 11 shots. In his first game against Portland since, he was the key reason his team was able to hold onto a lead while facing 32 second and third period shots. he turned all of them away as he led Everett to a 4-1 win Friday night at Xfinity Arena. The win was Everett's sixth in a row and seventh over their last eight. It is fair to say that since those eight games were all played since the last meeting with Portland that 6-5 loss to the Winterhawks may have been a turning point in Hart and Everett's season. Dominic Zwerger was in on all four goals as he scored one and assisted on the other three. Patrick Bajkov also contributed three points, while Matt Fonteyne added two. Joachim Blichfeld scored the lone goal for the Winterhawks in the loss.

Everett's top line got things going just 1:17 into the game. Matt Fonteyne's entry dump-in deflected off Keoni Texeira right to Dominic Zwerger who fed it right back to Fonteyne rushing into the zone. Fonteyne found Bajkov and the 19-year-old sniper bet Cole Kehler blocker-side for his 24th goal of the year. Portland answered that goal with one of their own while there was just one second remaining on a power play. Caleb Jones's pass to Joachim Blichfeld at the Everett blue line split Silvertips' defenders Aaron Irving and Jake Christiansen and Blichfeld beat Hart low glove side. The goal was Blichfeld's 26th of the year. Zwerger then capitalized on a five-on-three power play with about two minutes left in the first. Bajkov and Riley Sutter had chances on Kehler in tight but they couldn't get it through. However, the puck slipped to Kehler's left and Zwerger was the first to it. He tied Bajkov for the team-lead in goals with 24.

Jake Christiansen gave Everett some insurance after Portland had heavy pressure on them. Zwerger fired a cross-ice pass that Christiansen hauled in and beat Kehler far side on. Kehler slid way too far over in anticipation and was not ready for the rather soft wrist shot. Carter Hart stopped all 17 shots he faced including a couple world-class saves while his team was killing off a lengthy five-on-three penalty kill.

Noah Juulsen netted the game's only third period goal as he poked home a deflection on a back door pass from Zwerger on the rush. Juulsen's return to the Everett lineup as helped inspire this recent run of hot play by the Silvertips. Portland would get plenty of opportunities but a combination of desperate Everett defense and stalwart goaltending by Hart kept them from getting any closer.

Carter Hart stopped 42 of 43 shots, while Cole Kehler turned away 28 of 32.

Game Notes:
-Blichfeld has 26 of his 54 points now since January 14th. He is third in the WHL along rookie goal-scorers.
-Cody Glass has 82 points now and is tied for seventh in the WHL in points with Tri-City's Morgan Geekie.
-Caleb Jones added an assist and now has 42 in 53 games. That is good for third among WHL d-men 
 -Portland's road power play converted on one of six chances but that is well below their now 30.1 percent season average.
-Everett is now 21-1-2-1 when leading after one period. There are not many teams out there that are as good as them at nursing a lead.
-Portland fans will be keeping an eye on both the Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Royals this weekend as the Hawks do not have another game until Wednesday in Vancouver. Spokane heads to Kennewick to take on Tri-City Saturday while Victoria hosts Vancouver. Then on Sunday the Royals host the Giants, while the Chiefs take on the visiting Kelowna Rockets. Portland trails Victoria by three points for the first wild card spot with the Royals having one game in hand. The Winterhawks lead the Chiefs by nine points with the latter squad having three games in hand. If the Chiefs cannot get all four points, it starts to get really difficult for them to overtake the Hawks for the west's last playoff spot.
-Matt Revel played his first game for Portland after being picked up off of waivers. He has been out with an injury since December 10th. He played between Ryan Hughes and Evan Weinger. Once those three get some chemistry going they could give Portland a very dynamic second-line. They had some flashes of brilliance in game-one together. Their best moment was in the first period when a long pass towards the net from Hughes was expertly deflected by Revel. Unfortunately the puck hit the post. It would have given Portland a 2-1 lead.

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