EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips hold an ignoble Teddy Bear Toss history that is legendary in the Western Hockey League.
The event was cancelled after the first two tosses in team history resulted in shutouts by the opposing goaltender, and the organization only resurrected the WHL tradition last season.
That trend nearly continued when the officials took a second look at Eetu Tuulola’s Teddy Bear goal with 31.2 seconds to play in the second period. But the officials allowed it to stand and it spurred the Tips to four goals in the game’s final 21 minutes in a 4-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks before 5,733 fans at Xfinity Arena.
“I thought we were going to be involved in history again where a goal was waved off because it was questionable whether it was in or not in the officials’ eyes,” head coach Kevin Constantine said. “I thought it would be disallowed and we’d be part of history again. We seem to work our way into some type of history with the Teddy Bear Toss every time.”
The Silvertips (24-4-5-0, 53 points) now enter the week-long holiday break atop the U.S. Division and riding a three-game winning streak. Portland slipped to 19-16-1-0 with 39 points and has now lost four of five meetings to the Tips this season.
“You always want to keep a roll going, but I think the break is good for everybody,” said Everett forward Matt Fonteyne, who gave Everett its first lead midway through the third period. “It’s been a long first half with a lot of road trips and stuff like that. But whenever you can go home and see family and just kind of regroup it’s always good for everybody.”
Fonteyne, Devon Skoleski and Connor Dewar all scored goals while Tuulola added a goal and an assist.
It was Tuulola who gave the fans what they came to see when he followed Kevin Davis’s drive to the net with a tap-in past Portland goalie Cole Kehler at 19:29 in the second.
“This is definitely more of a show here,” Tuulola said of the Toss. “In Finland we don’t have that. But that’s nice. It’s a little bit more for the fans and I like that.”
Tuulola’s goal tied the game at 1-1. Skoleski tipped in the game-winning goal at 17:10 in the third to make it 3-2, and Dewar added an empty-netter at 19:12 for the game’s final goal.
Skoleski’s goal came the shift after Cody Glass’s second goal of the game tied the game 2-2 at 16:39.
Fonteyne took advantage from some precise passing from his linemates to give Everett its first lead at 12:22 in the third period. Patrick Bajkov fed a crisp pass to Dominic Zwerger in the slot, who in turn found Fonteyne at the left post for the tap-in past Kehler.
The goals from Tuulola and Fonteyne seemed to help the Tips finally settle into the contest.
“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Fonteyne said. “Everyone is kind of gripping their stick a little bit tighter and everyone wants to get a goal. After we went that long without getting it, it was kind of getting a little nerve-wracking.”
Glass had given the Winterhawks the lead with a wrist shot from the slot at 2:54 earlier in the second period.
The Tips mustered only one shot through the game’s nearly first 13 minutes prompting Constantine to call an early timeout.
“The first 10 minutes was one of the worst we’ve had all year,” Constantine said. “And whether that’s Teddy Bear Night because it’s a weird night, whether it’s that we already were on vacation, I don’t know because the first 10 minutes was a disaster. Now we did pick it up and came out in the second.”
The Tips outshot the Winterhawks 13-1 for the remainder of the opening period, the teams went into the first intermission scoreless with Everett holding a 14-11 shot advantage.
“I think after the timeout we got our stuff together and kind of told everyone we need to forget about that and go back to our game and after that we played pretty good,” Fonteyne said. “The bounces went our way toward the end of the game.”
Everett goalie Mario Petit improved to 7-1-1-0 and saved 26 of the 27 shots he faced. Kehler took the loss with 39 saves on 42 shots.
The Tips return to action at 7 p.m. on Dec. 27 at Vancouver.
Silvertips 4, Winterhawks 2
Portland 0 1 1 — 2
Everett 0 1 3 — 4
1st Period—No Scoring. Penalties—Ginnell Por (roughing), 8:43; Zwerger Evt (roughing), 8:43; Texeira Por (roughing), 16:56.
2nd Period—1, Portland, Glass 18 (Iverson), 2:53. 2, Everett, Tuulola 8 (Davis, Millar), 19:28. Penalties—McKenzie Por (inter. on goaltender), 7:25; Onyebuchi Evt (interference), 11:10.
3rd Period—3, Everett, Fonteyne 8 (Zwerger, Bajkov), 12:22. 4, Portland, Glass 19 (MacEachern, McKenzie), 16:39. 5, Everett, Skoleski 4 (Christiansen, Tuulola), 17:10. 6, Everett, Dewar 4 (Davis), 18:12 (EN). Penalties—Overhardt Por (high sticking), 8:55; Hughes Por (roughing), 18:52; Onyebuchi Evt (roughing), 18:52; Iverson Por (slashing, roughing), 19:21.
Shots on Goal—Portland 11-7-9-27. Everett 14-15-16-45.
Power Play Opportunities—Portland 0 / 1; Everett 0 / 5.
Goalies—Portland, Kehler 15-10-0-0 (44 shots-41 saves). Everett, Petit 6-1-1-0 (27 shots-25 saves).
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