Silvertips win, stay alive in playoff race
Everett beats Thunderbirds 6-4
The Tips did their part Saturday night. Now they’ve become the biggest Portland Winterhawks fans north of the Washington-Oregon border.
Everett kept its season alive by defeating the Seattle Thunderbirds 6-4 at ShoWare Center, a thrilling season finale that was every bit worthy its status as a do-or-die contest.
And now Everett’s future rests on the outcome of tonight’s game between the T-birds and the Winterhawks in Portland. If Portland wins, Everett takes the eighth and final playoff spot in the WHL’s Western Conference and face the Tri-City Americans in the first round. If Seattle wins, there will be a one-game playoff between the Tips and T-birds to determine that final playoff berth. That game would be Tuesday in Kent since Seattle holds the tiebreaker.
“I’m sure all the guys will get together and watch that one,” Tips center Manraj Hayer, who had two goals and an assist, said about today’s game between Seattle and Portland. “We’ll be scoreboard watching for sure. But hopefully our division rivals can help us out.
“That was an intense game,” Hayer added about Saturday’s contest. “That’s what we live for our whole lives, games like this. I’m proud of all the guys, they stuck it our right to the end.”
Everett’s season would have ended had the Tips lost, and four times Everett found itself behind. But the Tips battled back all four times. Zach McPhee scored the goal that made it 4-4 midway through the third period, then Cody Fowlie put in the winner with 4 minutes, 49 seconds remaining.
Fowlie’s goal was a case of poetic justice. Earlier in the game, Seattle twice scored goals thanks to favorable bounces. But in this instance it was the Tips who got the bounce when Ryan Harrison’s feed from behind the net went off a defender’s skate and right to Fowlie, who put it past stranded Seattle goaltender Calvin Pickard.
“That was definitely the biggest goal I’ve ever scored in my life,” Fowlie said. “I was ecstatic out there, for sure. Everyone was buzzing. It was something else.”
Then Everett goaltender Kent Simpson, who finished with 29 saves, made some big stops down the stretch to preserve the lead. The Tips finally put it away when Harrison scored into an empty net with 19 seconds remaining.
“It was entertaining I’m sure for the fans, but for the coaches it was one of those that gives you grey hairs,” Tips coach Mark Ferner said.
“But it was real good effort by everybody,” Ferner added. “I thought everyone played a real strong game. It may not have been the best-played game, but the effort was there.”
Josh Birkholz also scored for Everett, which finished the season 22-40-2-8.
Connor Honey scored twice to lead Seattle (25-44-1-1). Branden Troock and Luke Lockhart also scored for the T-birds, while Pickard finished with 35 saves.
For much of the game it looked like the puck would not fall in Everett’s favor. The Tips outshot the T-birds 41-33. But Seattle received bounces for two of its goals, one banking in off Tips defenseman Dominik Bittner and another coming when a hacked puck in front went high in the air, landed behind Simpson and plopped just over the goal line. The Tips didn’t help themselves on the puck, either, as Brennan Yadlowski’s fanned pass attempt ultimately resulted in Lockhart’s short-handed penalty-shot goal.
But each time Everett responded, with Hayer twice scoring from in front and Birkholz scoring on the power play. Then with Seattle leading 4-3 in the third, Hayer carried the puck into the T-birds’ zone and made a nice little move to get a shot away. Pickard made the stop, but McPhee, crashing down the middle, batted in the rebound from mid-air, tying it up at 8:58 for Everett’s fourth comeback of the game.
“We’ve battled adversity all year, we’ve never done it the easy way, we’ve always done it the hard way,” said Hayer, who’s had his own difficult path as he missed 54 games because of injury. “All the guys in the room, we believed. We’ve come back from three down in the third, and believing was the key.”
And that belief carried over as the Tips completed the comeback, meaning they will play at least once more this season.
Silvertips 6, Thunderbirds 4
Everett 0 3 3--6
Seattle 1 3 0--4
First Period--1, Seattle, Honey 9 (Deagle, Troock), 18:34. Penalties--Lofthouse, Everett (boarding), 2:57.
Second Period--2, Everett, Hayer 4 (Erricson, McPhee), 2:24. 3, Seattle, Troock 14 (Honey, Laroque), 7:16.
4, Everett, Hayer 5 (Erricson, Morden), 15:46. 5, Seattle, Lockhart 16, 17:00 (sh-ps). 6, Everett, Birkholz 29 (Murray, Yadlowski), 18:04 (pp). 7, Seattle, Honey 10 (Lockhart, Theodore), 19:32 (pp). Penalties--Boyd, Everett (interference), 3:56; Gallimore, Seattle (roughing), 8:53; Machacek, Seattle (tripping), 16:05; McPhee, Everett (hooking), 18:30.
Third Period--8, Everett, McPhee 5 (Hayer, Erricson), 8:58. 9, Everett, Fowlie 14 (Harrison, Bauml), 15:11. 10, Everett, Harrison 20, 19:41 (en). Penalties--none.
Shots on goal--Everett 9-18-14--41. Seattle 6-13-14--33. Power-play opportunities--Everett 1 of 2. Seattle 1 of 3.
Goalies--Everett, Simpson 20-31-2-5 (33 shots, 29 saves). Seattle, Pickard 25-36-1-1 (40 shots, 35 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
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