Well. That was interesting.
For 50 minutes this game was all Everett. The Tips led 2-0 before nine minutes had elapsed. Tri-City didn’t manage its first shot on goal until the 11:52 mark of the first period. Everett led 3-0 midway through the third period, and there was absolutely no sign of a comeback.
But one little slip turned the final 10 minutes into a completely different game.
Tri-City began what appeared to be an innocuous two-on-two when Everett defenseman Ben Betker blew a tire, turning it into a two-on-one. The Americans converted to get on the board with 9:09 remaining. Then Tri-City received a power play, and with 5:21 remaining Tri-City coach Jim Hiller summoned goaltender Eric Comrie to the bench in favor of an extra attacker. From that moment on the puck was basically in Everett’s zone the rest of the way. The Americans didn’t convert during the six-on-four, but they did on the six-on-five, getting within one with 2:07 remaining. It remained hairy for Everett the rest of the way, but goaltender Austin Lotz, who didn’t have much to do for 50 minutes, made some unbelievable stops during those final five minutes to preserve Everett’s victory.
The Tips also assured their streak of making the playoffs in every year of existence continued. Technically the Tips didn’t clinch their playoff berth with the victory, as Prince George’s 5-3 loss to Victoria earlier in the night did that. Still, that makes it 11-for-11 in the postseason for Everett.
Indeed, all the results went perfect for Everett tonight. Vancouver lost 6-0 to Kelowna, meaning the Tips now lead the Giants by three points in the race for sixth place in the Western Conference, and Everett still has a game in hand. Spokane also lost 2-0 to Portland, meaning the Tips are now just five points behind the Chiefs for fifth. It’s still an outside shot, but the tantalizing possibility of a Seattle-Everett first-round playoff series still exists.
That blown tire by Betker changed the game completely, though it didn’t ultimately change the result.
First star: Kohl Bauml, Everett. Two assists, but his holding penalty in the third could have been costly.
Second star: Jujhar Khaira, Everett. One goal, for me he was the best player on the ice.
Third star: Carson Stadnyk, Everett. One goal, also had other scoring chances as he ended a 20-game goalless drought.
The Herald’s honorable mention, Everett: Lotz. 25 saves, about 10 of those came in the final five minutes.
The Herald’s honorable mention, Tri-City: Lucas Nickles. One goal, was a pest on the forecheck.