By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Wednesday’s game between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs came down to the finishing touch.
And as has been the case throughout the season, Everett’s opponents had it while the Tips didn’t. The Silvertips were unable to cash in on their chances, falling to the Chiefs 4-1 at Comcast Arena.
Brenden Kichton scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal with just 0.5 seconds remaining in the first period, as Spokane was able to find the net where the Tips couldn’t.
“It’s hard to be super critical, there were a lot of positive things,” Everett interim coach Garry Davidson said. “But we don’t get a lot accomplished on the offensive side. Even the last 10 minutes after we gave up the fourth goal, our guys didn’t quit. They kept coming and we had some chances. But we just don’t seem to be able to get that goal when we need it. They’re just a much better offensive team than we are right now, which is what it boils down to.
“It’s real hard to win a hockey game when you’re scoring one goal,” Davidson continued. “We probably had enough shots to score at least three goals, but that didn’t happen.”
Carter Proft and Todd Fiddler also scored for Spokane (37-24-2-0), which won its third straight. Garret Hughson played a strong game in goal for the Chiefs, making 25 saves.
Ryan Harrison scored the lone goal for Everett (22-36-1-4), which was unable to make any ground in the playoff race. The Tips, who welcome the league’s top two teams (Edmonton and Portland) to Comcast Arena this weekend, remained in eighth place in the WHL’s Western Conference, one point behind seventh-place Seattle and five ahead of ninth-place Prince George. Eight teams advance to the playoffs. Seattle and Prince George were idle Wednesday.
Austin Lotz finished with 25 saves in net for the Tips.
Everett matched Spokane scoring chance for scoring chance Wednesday, but the Tips couldn’t match the Chiefs goal for goal. Everett was regularly able to work the puck into good position, but too often the final shot was either fanned, missed wide or went right at the goaltender. When the Tips did make Hughson work, he proved up to the task, making some good stops among his 25 saves.
“I think we played OK, I definitely think we could have played better,” Kichton said. “Credit the Silvertips, they came out hard and took it to us in the first period. We just found our game, found our structure, were able to get some pucks to the net and get the goals. Overall, I honestly think they outplayed us tonight, but we got the victory and we’re happy.”
Spokane’s ability to manufacture a goal made a decisive appearance in the final second of the first period. The score was tied 1-1 with Spokane on the power play. The Tips made a late clearance, and it looked as though the clock would run out on the Chiefs.
However, Spokane decided to make one last rush. Mitch Holmberg raced into the Everett zone and fired a shot that was saved by Lotz. Blake Gal found the rebound and put it out front. Kichton, pinching from his defensive position, banged it into the net just before time ran out. The goal gave the Chiefs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“That was a huge goal,” Kichton said. “I saw the time and just went to the net. Fortunately Blake Gal heard me calling and pushed it out front, and I was able to whack it in. That was a huge goal going into the intermission and it gave our team a momentum booster.”
The teams traded goals a minute apart late in the first period. Spokane struck first at 15:20 when Proft collected a wide shot and wrapped it around as Lotz was slow to recover. Then 59 seconds later the Tips tied it, Joshua Winquist pulling the puck out from a board battle and whipping it into the slot, where Harrison fired it into the top corner.
After Kichton scored to give the Chiefs the lead, Spokane began to assert itself in the second period. Although the Tips held out for most of the period, the Chiefs padded their lead with 1:49 remaining. Everett got stuck in its own zone, eventually allowing Fiddler to bang in a rebound to make it 3-1.
The Tips created chances in the third, but Spokane put it away at 7:28 as Kichton put a shot from the point in off the post.
Everett had two healthy scratches for the first time in a long time. Harrison, who didn’t practice Tuesday because of illness, was able to play, meaning winger Lucas Grayson (lower body) and defenseman Ayrton Nikkel (finger) were the only players out injured. … Fiddler’s goal was his 40th of the season.
Chiefs 4, Silvertips 1
Spokane 2 1 1 —4
Everett 1 0 0 —1
First Period—1, Spokane, Proft 8 (Rimmel, McIntosh), 15:20. 2, Everett, Harrison 9 (Winquist, Petryk), 16:19. 3, Spokane, Kichton 19 (Gal, Holmberg), 19:59 (pp). Penalties—Proft, Spokane (holding), 10:56; Leedahl, Everett (high sticking), 18:58.
Second Period—4, Spokane, Fiddler 40 (Gal), 18:11. Penalties—Coyle, Spokane (roughing), 13:03; Hayer, Everett (slashing), 18:15.
Third Period—5, Spokane, Kichton 20 (Gow, Playfair), 7:28. Penalties—Bauml, Everett (tripping), 3:18; Holmberg, Spokane (hooking), 7:32.
Shots on goal—Spokane 9-12-8—29. Everett 8-7-11—26. Power-play opportunities—Spokane 1 of 3. Everett 0 of 3.
Goalies—Spokane, Hughson 8-5-0-0 (26 shots, 25 saves). Everett, Lotz 13-17-1-1 (29 shots, 25 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.