By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — In the beginning, it appeared as though the game had gotten away from the Everett Silvertips before it even started.
In the end, the Tips skated off thinking they let something slip away.
Everett dug itself out of an early penalty-induced hole, but the Tips failed to convert on numerous glorious scoring chances late, and Everett came up short in a 3-2 loss to the Kelowna Rockets on Sunday evening at Comcast Arena. The loss was Everett’s seventh straight.
Kelowna built a 3-0 lead less than 15 minutes into the game, courtesy of three five-on-three power plays awarded in a span of 1:55. The contest seemed over at that point, but the Tips fought back in the second period with a five-on-three goal of their own, along with another power-play tally.
The Tips had all kids of chances to tie it. But Kelowna goaltender Jackson Whistle saved a penalty shot, made a couple miracle saves, and was the beneficiary when the Tips missed when he was down and out.
“Any night you lose 3-2 and have all the opportunities you had, it’s one of those games you look back at and think we could easily have won,” Everett interim coach Garry Davidson lamented. “But I still like the work ethic and the compete level tonight. That’s something we’ve been hounding on the last little while, because we’ve been very inconsistent with that.”
Colton Sissons, Ryan Olsen and JT Barnett scored and Myles Bell added three assists for Kelowna (41-13-3-1), which picked up a much-needed win after losing the first three games of its four-in-five games. The B.C. Division leaders were coming off emotional back-to-back losses to U.S. Division-leading Portland the previous two nights, dropping the Rockets nine points behind the Winterhawks in the race for the Western Conference’s top playoff seed.
“It was important, for sure,” Kelowna coach Ryan Huska said about the victory. “Four in five nights is tough to play at any time of the season, but coming off three losses makes it that much more important. I was pleased with the way our guys worked. I thought we made some mistakes — they were probably fatigue mistakes — but we competed hard and that’s we wanted to see.”
Whistle finished with 27 saves.
Ty Mappin and Manraj Hayer scored for Everett (21-31-1-4). Daniel Cotton finished with 22 saves in net for the Tips.
“Unfortunately, we got ourselves in the hole with all those penalties in the first period,” Davidson said. “We were almost able to climb out of it, but we came up short. But other than some of those penalties in the first being ones we shouldn’t have taken, I thought our guys five-on-five really battled hard tonight and did a lot of good things.”
It looked as though the suspense had been taken out of the game when Kelowna scored three times in four minutes midway through the first period, thanks to the five-on-threes.
The sequence began when the Tips took high-sticking penalties five seconds apart to give the Rockets 1:55 of five-on-three. Sissons converted 21 seconds later when a blocked shot deflected to him wide open in the slot at 10:26. Then 21 seconds after the restart the Tips put the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty, resulting in another 1:18 of five-on-three. Olsen redirected Sissons’ centering feed past Cotton to make it 2-0 at 11:18.
Another 42 seconds later and a boarding penalty again put the Tips down five-on-three. Although the Tips managed to kill both penalties, Barnett put home his own rebound just as the power play expired to make it 3-0 at 14:04.
Davidson did a minimal amount of objecting to the calls that resulted in the five-on-threes.
The Tips were down, but not out, and the officials evened things up in the second period. The Tips converted their own five-on-three when Mappin banked a rebound in off a downed Whistle at 5:31. Everett pulled within one with a five-on-four goal when Hayer batted his own rebound through Whistle to make it 3-2 at 9:16.
Everett had all kinds of chances to tie it. First, late in the second period, Ryan Harrison was awarded a penalty shot, but he didn’t make solid contact on his shot and Whistle was left with a routine save. Then the Tips had numerous great chances in the third, But Whistle made big saves on Hayer, Logan Aasman and Mappin, and Dawson Leedahl fanned at a puck sitting in the crease with Whistle nowhere in sight.
Finally, in the dying seconds Everett’s Reid Petryk appeared to flutter the puck over Whistle, causing the goal horn to sound briefly, but the puck instead crawled across the top of the crossbar and stayed out, and the Rockets survived.
Rockets 3, Silvertips 2
Kelowna 3 0 0 — 3
Everett 0 2 0 — 2
First Period—1, Sissons, 23 (Bell), 10:26 (pp). 2, Kelowna, Olsen 28 (Sissons, Bell), 11:18 (pp). 3, Kelowna, Barnett 11 (Severson, Bell), 14:04. Penalties—Hayer, Everett (unsportsmanlike conduct), 4:25; Zipp, Everett (high sticking), 10:00; Betker, Everett (high sticking), 10:05; Cox, Everett (delay of game), 10:47; Mueller, Everett (boarding), 12:00; Johnston, Kelowna (roughing), 18:05; Oslanski, Everett (interference), 19:39.
Second Period—4, Everett, Mappin 5 (Mueller, Harrison), 5:31 (pp). 5, Everett, Hayer 11 (Petryk, Aasman), 9:16 (pp). Penalties—Heffley, Kelowna (cross checking), 4:18; Martin, Kelowna (tripping), 4:46; Stadel, Kelowna (holding), 7:36; Mappin, Everett (high sticking), 18:22; Heffley, Kelowna (holding), 18:41.
Third Period—no goals. Penalties—McKinlay, Kelowna (slashing), 13:41.
Shots on goal—Kelowna 14-4-7—25. Everett 8-12-9—29. Power-play opportunities—Kelowna 2 of 7. Everett 2 of 6.
Goalies—Kelowna, Whistle 12-2-1-0 (29 shots, 27 saves). Everett, Cotton 9-14-0-2 (25 shots, 22 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.