By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Brennan Yadlowski didn’t want Saturday night to be his last time playing at Comcast Arena.
He and his Everett Silvertips teammates took a big step toward making sure they’d have at least two more home dates.
Everett played a strong all-around game, and the Silvertips inched closer to the playoffs by defeating the Victoria Royals 3-0 in their home finale.
Kent Simpson made 26 saves for his second shutout of the season, and Cody Fowlie scored twice as Everett (21-38-1-8) hurdled Victoria (22-41-2-4) into seventh place in the WHL’s Western Conference with four games remaining. And with Seattle falling 11-3 to Portland on Saturday, the Tips are now five points clear in the four-way race for the conference’s final two playoff berths.
“I did not this to be my last home game here in Everett,” said Yadlowski, Everett’s overage defenseman who assisted on all three goals. “Me, (Josh) Birkholz and (Josh) Caron (Everett’s other overagers), we want to make sure this is not going to be our last home game here.
“We just got good efforts from our goaltender out, and it showed with a big character win.”
It was the second time Everett leapfrogged Victoria for seventh this week. The Tips also passed the Royals after Wednesday’ 3-2 victory over Victoria, but then lost the position Friday when Victoria beat Kelowna 3-1 and Everett fell 4-3 to Portland. But this time the Tips may be there to stay as they have a game in hand in the Royals, as well as a more favorable schedule in the regular season’s final eight days.
“We knew the importance of this game, and I’m just real proud of our guys, they way they rebounded after a disappointing loss against Portland,” Everett coach Mark Ferner said. “Sometimes that can deflate you, but I told our guys we need to have a short memory, get right back in the saddle, and the kids played a real strong game for 60 minutes.”
Josh Winquist scored the other goal for Everett, a short-handed tally early in the third period that was the back breaker.
Keith Hamilton finished with 24 saves in net for the Royals.
The Tips play another huge game tonight when they travel to Kent to face Seattle. A victory in that one would all but assure Everett its ninth straight playoff berth in the team’s nine-season history.
When Everett and Victoria met Wednesday, Everett prevailed 3-2 despite being thoroughly outplayed. Only the performance of Simpson allowed the Tips to steal the two points. But Saturday was a different story as Everett was well worth its victory.
However, the game was still in doubt heading into the third period. Everett had the edge in scoring chances, but led just 1-0, and the Royals began the third with a lengthy power play.
However, Winquist’s one-man effort gave the Tips the all-important second goal while short-handed. Winquist broke two-on-one, and although his first three shots were all blocked by Victoria defensemen, he was able to get the puck into the net on the fourth try, making it 2-0 at 1 minute, 23 seconds.
“That was huge,” Ferner said. “You talk about momentum and that was a momentum turn in our favor, no question about it. It was a great effort by Josh staying with it. Those are the type of efforts we’re going to need from everybody to continue to push and try and make the playoffs.”
The Tips then put it away with a power-play goal at 5:05. A tic-tac-toe passing move from Yadlowski and Ryan Harrison set up Fowlie for a one-timer in the slot, making it 3-0. Everett then made the rest of the period academic without giving up any more quality scoring chances.
Indeed, the Tips limited the Royals, a team known for its scoring ability that had been shut out just twice all season, to few scoring chances throughout the game.
“We kept them to the outside and held them to a lot of perimeter shots,” Yadlowski said. “They played a pretty perimeter game. They didn’t want to get engaged in the battles. We won most of those board battles and that showed.”
Everett broke the ice 3:19 into the game. Ryan Murray’s shot from the left point deflected off Fowlie and past Hamilton, giving the Tips a 1-0 lead. Both teams had scoring chances later in the period, but both goaltenders made some good saves to keep it a one-goal game.
The Tips had chances to pad their lead in the second period. However, Yadlowski was just bothered enough by a defender on a breakaway chance when he came out of the penalty box, Winquist smacked the post during a power play, and it remained 1-0 going into the third.
Silvertips 3, Royals 0
First Period—1, Everett, Fowlie 11 (Murray, Yadlowski), 3:19. Penalties—Grayson, Everett (cross checking), 5:51.
Second Period—no goals. Penalties—Yadlowski, Everett (cross checking), 8:54; Soudek, Victoria (holding), 9:40; Nelson, Victoria (high sticking-high sticking), 13:01; Petryk, Everett (roughing), 19:55.
Third Period—2, Everett, Winquist 18 (Yadlowski), 1:23 (sh). 3, Everett, Fowlie 12 (Harrison, Yadlowski), 5:05 (pp). Penalties—Rintoul, Victoria (high sticking), 4:06; Bittner, Everett (hooking), 5:52; Kanzig, Victoria (tripping), 10:14.
Shots on goal—Victoria 13-8-5—26. Everett 10-8-9—27. Power-play opportunities—Victoria 0 of 5. Everett 1 of 4.
Goalies—Victoria, Hamilton 18-31-1-4 (27 shots, 24 saves). Everett, Simpson 19-29-1-5 (26 shots, 26 saves).