By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — So many times in recent weeks, the Everett Silvertips have been on the right side of the play, but the wrong side of the result. For much of Friday night’s game against the Seattle Thunderbirds, there was a sense the Tips could be heading for more of the same.
But this time Everett found a way to pull it out.
The Tips finally got their all-important second goal, then had to sweat it out late as they defeated the T-birds 2-1 in a thriller before a packed house at Comcast Arena.
Mirco Mueller ended a long string of frustrating misses for Everett, finding the net midway through the third period to give the Tips a 2-0 lead. Then goaltender Austin Lotz made several big saves down the stretch as Everett held on.
“I think we battled really hard,” said Mueller, who’s long outlet pass also set up Everett’s first goal. “It was a tight game. We could have scored a couple more goals during the first 30 minutes. But we stuck together, and Lotzy played a heck of a game.”
Dawson Leedahl scored the other goal and Lotz finished with 17 saves as Everett (29-23-7-1) ended a four-game losing streak against Seattle.
Justin Hickman scored and Taran Kozun made 26 saves in net for Seattle (37-19-2-3).
After Everett scored just 1 minute, 41 seconds into the contest, the Tips spent most of the game controlling play, but squandering golden scoring chances. That formula has plagued Everett recently, with the Tips outshooting their opponents by double digits in three of their past four defeats. The missed chances kept the T-birds in the game, and the foreboding sense was that one unfortunate moment could lead to Everett’s doom.
But Mueller’s shot from the left point through traffic found the far corner with 9:15 remaining to give the Tips what proved to be the game-winning goal.
“(Those type of games) have gotten away from us a couple times in the past, but we didn’t really think about that,” Mueller said. “We just focused on the next shift, think of today, and that’s what we did.”
Mueller’s goal was part of an all-action third period that saw both teams create several good scoring opportunities. After Everett went ahead 2-0, Lotz made a good save on Hickman’s redirection, then made an impossible stop to deny Alexander Delnov — Lotz reached up with his glove while falling forward to keep it 2-0.
Seattle pulled Kozun for an extra attacker with 2:05 remaining, and the T-birds cashed in at 18:57, Hickman tipping Adam Henry’s point shot past Lotz to set up a nail-biting finish. The T-birds had the time to pull Kozun again, and they kept the puck largely in the Everett zone the remainder of the game, but the Tips prevented any more quality chances to hang onto the victory.
Everett had all kinds of great scoring chances in the first period and could have led by as many as five, but instead the Tips had to settle for a 1-0 lead.
The Tips got off to the perfect start as, 1:41 in, Mueller’s long outlet pass caught the T-birds in a line change, sending Leedahl in free. Leedahl fired a shot over Kozun’s shoulder to stake Everett to a 1-0 lead.
The rest of the period consisted of the Tips creating great scoring chances, but spurning them. Leading scorer Joshua Winqusit had a trio of chances, but twice was denied by Kozun and once fired wide. Leedahl had another shot that smacked the crossbar. Then Logan Aasman had a stunning miss when he somehow managed to fire wide from point blank with the net wide open.
The game evened out in the second period, but once again the Tips missed a wide open net. This time it was Ivan Nikolishin who shot wide from the slot with Kozun way out of position, and it remained a one-goal game going into the third.
Friday’s game was the first time in uniform for back-up goaltender Nik Amundrud since he was called up in November to cover for injuries. The 16-year-old Amundrud is with the team for the remainder of the season because of the indefinite suspension to goaltender Daniel Cotton for violating team rules. … Defenseman Jordan Wharrie is back with the Tips this weekend, though he didn’t play Friday. The 16-year-old Wharrie, who appeared in seven games as a call-up earlier this season, has completed his campaign with the Port Moody Panthers of the junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League. However, he is returning home after the weekend for school purposes. … Friday’s game was televised live on Root Sports. Next Friday’s home game against Tri-City is also being televised by Root.
Silvertips 2, Thunderbirds 1
First Period—1, Everett, Leedahl 6 (Mueller), 1:41. Penalties—none.
Second Period—no goals. Penalties—Troock, Seattle (tripping-delay of game), 6:52; Hickman, Seattle (delay of game), 9:14; Leedahl, Everett (spearing-spearing), 9:14; Bear, Seattle (hooking), 13:49.
Third Period—2, Everett, Mueller 4 (Davis, Hayer), 10:45. 3, Seattle, Hickman 20 (Henry, Theodore), 18:57. Penalties—none.
Shots on goal—Seattle 5-6-7—18. Everett 9-10-9—28. Power-play opportunities—Seattle 0 of 1. Everett 0 of 3.
Goalies—Seattle, Kozun 16-23-2-1 (28 shots, 26 saves). Everett, Lotz 21-18-3-1 (18 shots, 17 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.