By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — It was shaping up as a lost weekend for the Everett Silvertips.
The Tips dropped a heartbreaker at Tri-City on Friday, then played a clunker in their crucial match-up at Seattle on Saturday. And all that awaited them Sunday was a Portland Winterhawks team that had won nine straight and scored 34 goals in their previous four games. Everett’s momentum toward a playoff berth seemed to have screeched to a halt.
But in the blink of an eye the Tips unexpectedly got their playoff drive back on course.
Josh Winquist scored with less than a minute remaining in regulation to tie it, then Ryan Harrison scored the winner in overtime as the Tips stunned the Winterhawks 2-1 Sunday evening at Comcast Arena.
“Things weren’t clicking (Saturday) and we put ourselves in a bit of hole,” Harrison said. “But winning a game like this is huge. It meant a lot to come out and compete for 60 minutes and give our best effort.
“If we lost this it would have been a really disappointing weekend. But now we’re right back in the thick of things.”
Everett was facing the prospect of an 0-for-3 weekend, with the most damaging defeat being Saturday’s 3-0 loss against a Seattle team engaged in the playoff race with the Tips.
And Portland seemed an unlikely opponent for the Tips to turn their fortunes. Everett had won just once in eight contests against the Winterhawks this season, that win coming way back on Oct. 7. Since then the Tips dropped six straight against Portland by a combined score of 33-13.
For 59 minutes the Tips hung tough, with goaltender Kent Simpson doing everything he could to keep Everett in the game. But the Tips seemed destined for more misery as their goal drought reached 170 minutes.
Fortunately for the Tips, they had one more minute to work with.
In the final minute, with Simpson pulled for an extra attacker, Ryan Murray fed an open Winquist in the high slot, and Winquist wristed a shot into the top corner to tie it at 1-1 with 50.1 seconds remaining.
Then 1:07 into OT, Kohl Bauml won a puck battle in the corner and fed Harrison cutting in free on goal. Harrison made a move around Portland goaltender Mac Carruth and tucked the puck into the net to give the Tips a vital two points — and two points many would have considered beyond Everett’s reach.
“We certainly had a tough stretch there, and we had another real good team coming in here,” Everett coach Mark Ferner said. “We needed to be close to our best, and I thought we were. We bent a few times, and obviously Simpson was real good. We stuck with it and fortunately found a way.
“We worked,” Ferner added about the difference between Sunday’s and Saturday’s efforts. “We didn’t turn over nearly as many pucks, and we were simple. For whatever reason it seemed we had more energy tonight.”
Simpson finished with 35 saves as Everett moved back within one point of playoff position in the WHL’s Western Conference. Seattle, which lost 5-1 to Tri-City on Sunday, remained in eighth with 44 points, while Everett is once again just one point behind with 43. Seattle has played one fewer game, and the teams have three head-to-head meetings remaining.
“It was huge,” Simpson said of the victory. “Obviously we didn’t come out (Saturday) night like we should have. It was huge to come out tonight and get the two points and kind of redeem ourselves.”
Cam Reid scored the lone goal for Portland (43-15-3-1), which fell one point behind Tri-City for first place in both the U.S. Division and Western Conference. Carruth finished with 26 saves.
The first period ended scoreless. The few scoring chances there were fell to Portland, which twice glanced iron. But the best chance came to the Tips, when Josh Birkholz was denied on a short-handed breakaway.
The Winterhawks then struck early in the second. On the counter, Brad Ross sent an inch-perfect pass to the back door, where the arriving Reid redirected the puck into the net to give Portland a 1-0 lead.
Everett had chances in the third, but too often the last pass found a teammate’s skates rather than the stick blade. And when the pass was on target, the Tips tended to mis-hit their shots.
Then after Winquist tied it, Portland’s Marcel Noebels had a chance to win it in regulation, but his redirect went wide with lots of net to work with.
Tips 2, Winterhawks 1 (OT)
First Period—no goals. Penalties—Bittner, Everett (high sticking), 1:08; Walters, Everett (holding), 12:50; Bartschi, Portland (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00; Harrison, Everett (roughing), 20:00.
Second Period—1, Portland, Reid 9 (Ross, Leipsic), 2:53. Penalties—Caron, Everett (boarding), 3:11; Pouliot, Portland (slashing), 3:47.
Third Period—2, Everett, Winquist 13 (Murray, Petryk), 19:09. Penalties—Lofthouse, Everett (tripping), 1:57; Ross, Portland (cross checking), 12:55; Caron, Everett (roughing), 12:55.
Overtime—3, Everett, Harrison 18 (Bauml, Caron), 1:07. Penalties—none.
Shots on goal—Portland 11-9-15-1—36. Everett 4-7-15-2—28. Power-play opportunities—Portland 0 of 4. Everett 0 of 1.
Goalies—Portland, Carruth 38-13-2-0 (28 shots, 26 saves). Everett, Simpson 15-28-1-5 (36 shots, 35 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter @NickHPatterson.