By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips took the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League right down to the wire.
However, the Kamloops Blazers occupy that top spot for a reason, and Tuesday night they found yet another way to win.
Everett came minutes away from ending Kamloops’ record winning streak, but instead succumbed 3-2 in a shootout at Comcast Arena.
The Tips were 5 minutes, 21 seconds away from becoming the first team to beat the Blazers in regulation this season when Chase Souto scored a scramble goal to tie it, Then after a scoreless overtime, Colin Smith netted the only goal in the shootout to give Kamloops its 14th consecutive victory.
Nevertheless, it was a valiant effort by Everett, and the Tips were well worth their point.
“We can’t be happy with the outcome, but we’re definitely happy with the effort,” Everett captain Ryan Murray said. “We did all the right things out there and I thought we played a great game. But when you’re playing a team that good, even if you play a great game it still might not go your way.”
JC Lipon scored the Blazers’ other goal and Cole Cheveldave made 20 saves in net for Kamloops (16-0-0-1), which set a franchise record for longest winning streak. The previous record was 13, accomplished in both 1986-87 and 1989-90.
“It wasn’t our best game, but the important thing is we found a way to win,” Smith said. “Any time you’re able to put you stamp on things in club history, as much history as we have, it’s something special for our group.”
Carson Stadnyk scored his first career WHL goal and Ryan Harrison also scored for Everett (6-8-0-2) while Austin Lotz made 26 saves in net. The Tips also received a strong effort from their defensive corps, which limited a high-powered Kamloops offense that was scoring nearly five goals per game.
“We knew they were going to get their opportunities, but at the same time I thought we did a good job just containing them and protecting the areas we need to protect,” Everett coach Mark Ferner said.
“I think we’re coming,” Ferner added about the significance of the performance against the top-ranked Blazers. “Our veterans were very good tonight, our rookies were very good. Obviously we were missing some key bodies and that did hurt us at the end. But the other guys stepped up. I thought we were good right from our goalie out.”
Everett was in position to play spoiler thanks to Stadnyk’s goal with 9:07 remaining. Lipon had scored a minute earlier to tie the score 1-1. However shortly after, Everett’s Ty Mappin picked up the puck in his own end, skated out wide to the left, then backhanded a pass out front, which the onrushing Stadnyk turned into the net to restore Everett’s lead.
The Tips continued to play a textbook third period, and then with 7:45 remaining Smith was called for a tripping penalty. It seemed the perfect opportunity to put the game away. Instead, Everett floundered on the power play, losing momentum and giving the Blazers something to build on.
Shortly after the power play expired Kamloops tied it again. The Tips failed to clear the puck from the slot, and Souto spun a backhander that got under Lotz to make it 2-2.
“If they score there it’s most likely over, so it was a huge kill,” Smith said. “That was probably the turning point.”
The game went to overtime and then to the shootout. The first four shooters missed before Smith made tremendous move — and came suspiciously close to bringing the puck to a stop — to put in a backhander from the tightest of angles. Ryan Harrison couldn’t score on Everett’s final attempt, and the Blazers celebrated a historic victory.
Everett opened the scoring at 9:12 of the first period. During a five-on-three power play, Murray threaded a diagonal pass to Kohl Bauml, who dropped a pass for Harrison to one-time into the top corner.
Kamloops had chances to tie in both the first and second periods. However, Dylan Willick fired wide on a penalty shot late in the first, and the Blazers had a goal waived off early in the second when it was ruled the puck was put into the net with a high stick.
Everett finished the game without key center Manraj Hayer, who took several big hits during the game. Ferner said Hayer should be able to play tonight against Portland. … Everett was able to field a full lineup as winger Trent Lofthouse returned after a one-game absence. However, the Tips were still missing three key players in winger Joshua winquist (illness) and defensemen Nick Walters (suspended) and Austin Adam (broken hand).
Blazers 3, Silvertips 2 (SO)
Blazers won shootout 1-0
First Period—1, Everett, Harrison 3 (Bauml, Murray), 9:12 (pp). Penalties—Mappin, Everett (roughing), 2:56; Hansen, Kamloops (interference-roughing), 5:38; Souto, Kamloops (roughing-roughing), 5:38; Grayson, Everett (roughing-roughing), 5:38; Grist, Kamloops (high sticking), 7:57; Sterzer, Kamloops (kneeing), 11:29; Hayer, Everett (hooking), 13:32; Soumelidis, Everett (high sticking), 19:18.
Second Period—no goals. Penalties—Trzonkowski, Kamloops (hooking), 7:42; Cox, Everett (interference), 10:51; Needham, Kamloops (high sticking), 16:54; Grist, Kamloops (checking from behind), 17:31.
Third Period—2, Kamloops, Lipon 16 (Cross), 9:48. 3, Everett, Stadnyk 1 (Mappin), 10:53. 4, Kamloops, Souto 2 (Bozon, Smith), 14:39. Penalties—Smith, Kamloops (tripping), 12:15.
Overtime—no goals. Penalties—none
Shootout—Kamloops 1 (Bozon NG, Ranford NG, Smith G); Everett 0 (Murray NG, Petryk NG, Harrison NG).
Shots on goal—Kamloops 7-9-11-1—28. Everett 10-4-6-2—22. Power-play opportunities—Kamloops 0 of 4. Everett 1 of 8.
Goalies—Kamloops, Cheveldave 11-0-0-0 (22 shots, 20 saves). Everett, Lotz 1-4-0-1 (28 shots, 28 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.