By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — If the Everett Silvertips want to keep their playoff streak alive, it’s looking more and more like it will have to be at the expense of someone other than the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Everett dropped further behind Seattle in the WHL’s Western Conference standings as the surging T-birds defeated the Tips 5-1 behind a strong performance by goaltender Brandon Glover.
“We certainly generated a lot of opportunities, but we couldn’t score,” lamented Everett coach Mark Ferner, whose team was never in it despite outshooting its opponent 34-25. “And everything seemed to end up in the back of our net. We can’t afford to give up five goals.”
Everett has made the playoffs in each of its previous nine seasons. The past two seasons, the Tips barely squeezed into the conference’s final playoff spot, both times edging out Seattle.
It seemed the teams were set for another playoff battle this season, with both hovering toward the bottom of the conference standings. However, Seattle now has won four straight, including victories over powerhouses Kamloops and Kelowna. As a result, the T-birds (16-13-1-0) lead the Tips (11-20-0-2) by nine points as the season’s midpoint nears.
“We’ve had a tough schedule, and when you can beat some of the top teams like we have it gives you a lot of confidence,” Glover said. “We’re going to try and keep the ball rolling into Christmas, have a good break, and come back ready to work for the second half.”
Roberts Lipsbergs, Seth Swenson, Mitch Elliot, Riley Sheen and Brendan Rouse scored goals for Seattle, which also has had Everett’s number this season. The T-birds have won all four games between the two teams.
Glover finished with 33 saves as he turned aside a Tips team that created plenty of chances. He came within 6.7 seconds of recording his first shutout of the season, only for teammate Jesse Forsberg to redirect a centering feed into his own net.
Tyler Sandhu was credited with Everett’s goal. Daniel Cotton made 20 saves in net for the Tips.
“Penalties are killing us,” said Ferner whose team gave up five of the game’s first six power plays, including a five-minute major. “It just takes ice time away from our guys, it shortens our bench, and we just can’t be like that. We’ve talked about being better in our own end, and we have to be committed to it. We have to be committed to the zone we’re in, but for whatever reason there’s too many breakdowns.”
Seattle opened the scoring 4 minutes, 12 seconds into the game when Alexander Delnov won the puck behind the Everett net and fed it out front to Lipsbergs, who snapped a shot through Cotton to make it 1-0. The score gave Lipsbergs goals in 10 of his last 11 games. Both teams had quality scoring chances the remainder of the period, but the goaltenders made some good stops to keep it 1-0 going into the second.
Everett got the shots on goal in the second, outshooting the T-birds 18-9, but Seattle got the goals. Swenson made it 2-0 at 10:39 when he gloved the puck down to himself in the high slot, spun, and slid a shot just inside the post. Elliot then made it two goals in 14 seconds when he hacked home a rebound to make it 3-0.
The T-birds turned it into a rout in the third. Sheen put home a rebound at 6:52 just as a Seattle power play expired. Then at 18:21 former Silvertip Griffin Foulk, playing at Comcast Arena for the first time since being traded from Everett to Seattle, saw his point shot pinball off Rouse and past Cotton to make it 5-0.
Everett got its consolation at the death when Sandhu’s attempted cross-crease feed on the power play was deflected in by Forsberg.
Everett, which has been beset by injuries to key personnel this season, finally got one back Friday as overage winger Ryan Harrison returned to the lineup. Harrison missed the previous 10 games because of a torn meniscus in his knee. Defensemen Ryan Murray (shoulder) and Nick Walters (upper body) and center Kohl Bauml (shoulder) were all out injured. … Tips defenseman Micheal Zipp, a 16-year-old called up earlier this week, made his WHL debut. … With Zipp in the lineup, overager Landon Oslanski returned to right wing after filling in the previous two games at his natural defensive position. … Tips winger Carson Stadnyk was given a major penalty and a game misconduct late in the second period for charging into Glover.
Thunderbirds 5, Silvertips 1
First Period—1, Seattle, Lipsbergs 15 (Delnov), 4:12. Penalties—Honey, Seattle (roughing), 10:06; Petryk, Everett (roughing), 10:06; Honey, Seattle (roughing), 12:18; Petryk, Everett (roughing), 12:18; Betker, Everett (cross checking), 12:18.
Second Period—2, Seattle, Swenson 11 (Wardley), 10:39. 3, Seattle, Elliot 1 (Lockhart, Forsberg), 10:51. Penalties—Soumelidis, Everett (interference), 7:03; Foulk, Seattle (roughing), 13:53; Cox, Everett (roughing), 13:53; Smith, Seattle (roughing), 14:10; Stadnyk, Everett (major-charging-game misconduct), 17:20; Glover, Seattle (delay of game, served by Honey), 17:34; Honey, Seattle (slashing), 19:54.
Third Period—4, Seattle, Sheen 8 (Theodore, Honey), 6:52. 5, Seattle, Rouse 6 (Foulk, Lipsbergs), 18:21. 6, Everett, Sandhu 10 (Winquist, Hayer), 19:53 (pp). Penalties—Betker, Everett (roughing), 2:40; Betker, Everett (elbowing), 4:50; Elliot, Seattle (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:32; Wardley, Seattle (roughing), 8:57; Elliot, Seattle (roughing), 17:25; Holub, Seattle (roughing), 17:25; Betker, Everett (roughing), 17:25; Low, Everett (roughing), 17:25; Wardley, Seattle (delay of game), 19:22.
Shots on goal—Seattle 8-10-7—25. Everett 9-18-7—34. Power-play opportunities—Seattle 0 of 5. Everett 1 of 4.
Goalies—Seattle, Glover 15-10-1-0 (34 shots, 33 saves). Everett, Cotton 8-8-0-0 (25 shots, 20 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.