By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Conventional wisdom said this one was over before it started.
Someone forgot to tell the Everett Silvertips that.
Everett pulled off one of the more shocking results of the WHL season Saturday night, upsetting the Portland Winterhawks 4-2 at a raucous Comcast Arena.
Everett was supposed to be a lamb being led to the slaughter Saturday, a sacrifice to the top team in the WHL. But stellar goaltending by Austin Lotz and two goals from Kohl Bauml, including the tiebreaker with just over two minutes remaining, gave the home fans a victory they won’t soon forget.
“That was by far the most exciting win I’ve had in my two years, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the guys in there can say the same,” Bauml said. “We played our best game of the year so far, we had everybody going. We competed incredibly hard the whole game and I’m so proud of everyone.”
Comcast Arena was a setting that seemed certain for a bloodbath Saturday. Everett had lost 13 of its past 14, was coming off a crushing 7-1 defeat against defending WHL champion Edmonton the previous night, then had to face a team with an even better record in Portland. The Tips were 0-8 against the Winterhawks this season, and Portland whupped Everett by scores of 8-0 and 6-0 in its previous two visits.
But Everett kept pace with Portland through two periods, keeping the score tied 1-1. Then in the third the Winterhawks had the puck, outshooting Everett 15-4, but the Tips got the goals.
“To get that win shows we can beat anybody in this league,” said Lotz, who finished with 43 saves. “We all believe that. This win might have been the one that gets that in everybody’s minds, not just a few guys.”
Reid Petryk also scored and Manraj Hayer added a late empty netter for Everett (23-37-1-4), which earned a crucial two points in the playoff race. The Tips moved back within one point of seventh-place Seattle, which lost 5-3 to Tri-City on Saturday, and moved seven points ahead of ninth-place Prince George, which was idle. Eight teams make the playoffs.
Ty Rattie scored both goals for Portland (51-12-1-2), which outshot Everett 45-25 in the game, including 15-4 in the third period. Mac Carruth made 21 saves in net for the Winterhawks, who would face Everett in the first round of the playoffs if the current standings hold.
“I thought we played pretty well tonight,” acting Portland head coach Travis Green said. “We threw a lot of pucks at the net, their goalie played well and their team played well. It felt like a playoff game. I’m not disappointed in how our team played. I know if we play that way most nights, we’ll be all right.”
Portland kept Everett on the back heel for most of the third period, and when Rattie just squeezed a rebound past Lotz on the power play at 13:09 to tie it at 2-2, there was a sense all Everett’s hard work might come to naught.
But Everett received a late power play of its own, and the Tips cashed in with 2:03 remaining. Landon Oslanski wristed a shot from the right point, and Bauml managed to get a stick on the airborne puck and tip it past Carruth to give Everett the lead.
“I was just getting in front,” Bauml said. “Lando is usually shooting to score, so I was just trying to get in (Carruth’s) eyes. I kind of saw it was coming for my backhand, I just tried to get a stick on it and it ended up going through him.”
Everett still had two minutes to kill to get the two points, and Portland piled on the pressure. However, the Tips limited Portland’s chances in close, and Lotz stopped everything that came from distance. Then with time winding down Hayer made a desperation clearance that was destined to be icing. However, the puck rolled onto its side and detoured into the net with 12.8 seconds remaining to clinch the victory.
“It’s nice to finally beat them,” Lotz said. “When you’re struggling like we have been lately, it shows great character to beat a team like that that’s been in the top two in the whole CHL the whole year. It’s a huge character win for our guys.”
The score was tied 1-1 through two periods, with Everett hanging tough with the Winterhawks. Portland began to assert itself in the third, but Everett scored against the run of play with a moment of magic at 10:32. Intricate passing in the offensive zone by Ryan Harrison and Joshua Winquist set up Petryk for a shot into the top corner as Everett took a 2-1 lead.
And although Rattie tied it, the Tips found a way for an unlikely victory.
Silvertips 4, Winterhawks 2
Portland 1 0 1 — 2
Everett 1 0 3 — 4
First Period—1, Portland, Rattie 41, 10:53 (sh-ps). 2, Everett, Bauml 20 (Mueller, Hayer), 11:30 (pp). Penalties—Mappin, Everett (hooking), 1:09; Winquist, Everett (slashing), 5:06; Leipsic, Portland (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:37; Peters, Portland (fighting), 16:03; Soumelidis, Everett (fighting), 16:03; Rutkowski, Portland (tripping), 16:21; Leier, Portland (fighting), 18:37; Winquist, Everett (fighting), 18:37.
Second Period—no goals. Penalties—Portland bench (too many men, served by Mahon), 2:59; Baker, Portland (tripping), 14:57; Petryk, Everett (tripping), 15:38.
Third Period—3, Everett, Petryk 14 (Winquist, Harrison), 10:32. 4, Portland, Rattie 42 (Jones, Rutkowski), 13:09 (pp). 5, Everett, Bauml 21 (Oslanski, Cox), 17:57 (pp). 6, Everett, Hayer 14, 19:47 (en). Penalties—Harrison, Everett (tripping), 11:15; Rutkowski, Portland (interference), 16:38.
Shots on goal—Portland 15-15-15—45. Everett 13-8-4—25. Power-play opportunities—Portland 1 of 4. Everett 2 of 5.
Goalies—Portland, Carruth 28-7-0-2 (24 shots, 21 saves). Everett, Lotz 14-17-1-1 (45 shots, 43 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.