By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips finished off their 2012-13 regular season in grand fashion Sunday evening.
And in the process they gave a glimpse of what may be in store for the future.
Everett’s youth led the way in a rare offensive explosion as the Tips closed out the season with a 7-5 victory over the Tri-City Americans at Comcast Arena.
Rookie Tyler Sandhu scored a hat trick as Everett matched a season high for goals. The Tips did their damage early as they erupted for five in the first period en route to a 6-1 lead.
“We just really wanted it,” Sandhu said. “We knew we did something wrong (blowing a late lead in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Victoria). We wanted to go into the playoffs with a strong mindset. So tonight we were really bringing it, and we’re going to bring it in the playoffs, too.”
Tri-City made things interesting late by capitalizing on its power plays, but Everett’s advantage was too large to overcome.
Landon Oslanski, Carson Stadnyk, Reid Petryk and Mitch Skapski also scored for Everett (25-40-3-4), while Joshua Winquist pitched in with three assists. Daniel Cotton earned the win in goal with 24 saves for Everett, which begins its best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series against the top-seeded Portland Winterhawks on Friday in Portland.
“You always want to go in on a high note,” Winquist, who finished the season as Everett’s leading scorer with 51 points in 51 games, said about the importance of ending the season with a win. “It sucks going into the playoffs losing your last game, so hopefully we can build on this momentum.”
Malte Stromwall scored twice to lead Tri-City (20-27-2-3), which ended its season on a five-game losing streak. Zachary Yuen, Connor Rankin and Jesse Mychan also scored for the Americans, while Luke Lee-Knight made 17 saves in net.
Sunday’s game had no bearing on either team for the playoffs. Everett was already locked into the Western Conference’s eighth seed. Tri-City had already clinched the fifth seed and will play Spokane in the first round.
As a result, both teams fielded young teams and gave those youngsters plenty of ice time. Everett’s youth responded as five of the seven goals were scored by players in their 16-year-old or 17-year-old seasons.
None of those youngsters had a bigger impact than Sandhu. The 16-year-old winger scored all three of his goals in the first 28 minutes as Everett built its commanding lead. Two of those goals came as he crashed the net hard for rebounds.
“That was really nice,” Sandhu said about his first career hat trick. “I got a little help, obviously, from Josh and (Manraj Hayer). I just went to the net and I got a couple bounces.”
Sandhu finished the season with 19 goals, the most among 16-year-olds in the Western Conference.
Everett, which has been at the bottom of the league in goals scored all season long, had a cathartic outburst in the first period, putting five pucks in the net to take a 5-1 lead. The five goals were the most Everett has scored in a period all season, and the Tips hadn’t scored five goals in an entire game since a 5-1 home victory over Seattle on Jan. 18.
Sandhu began the proceedings just 1 minute, 31 seconds into the game when he was found all alone in front by Winquist. Oslanski made it 2-0 at 7:12 when he intercepted an outlet pass and wristed a shot in from the right circle. Then Stadnyk made it 3-0 at 8:31, slipping the puck under Lee-Knight on a breakaway.
Tri-City briefly interrupted the deluge at 10:53 when Yuen fought off a challenge in the slot and fired the puck under Cotton. But Everett kept coming, with Sandhu tipping in a rebound from out of the air at 17:11 and Petryk punishing the Americans for a defensive turnover at 18:30.
So what was the source of Everett’s unexpected first-period outburst?
“I’m not too sure, but it was pretty awesome,” Winquist said. “Everybody enjoyed it. Everything just seemed to go in for us, and it was nice.”
Sandhu then finished off his hat trick 8:00 into the second period with his second high-speed rebound goal of the game, making it 6-1.
That seemed to clinch it for Everett, but the Americans took advantage of its power plays, converting three times in the game’s final 28 minutes to make the Tips sweat a bit at the end.
With nothing to play for, Everett fielded a lineup that included three call-up 15-year-olds in center Matt Fonteyne and defensemen Kevin Davis and Noah Juulsen. For Juulsen, a native of Abbotsford, B.C., who was a fourth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft, it was his WHL debut. … Tri-City, played one skater short and dressed just five defensemen as veterans Mitch Topping (lower-body injury), Drydn Dow and Michal Plutnar were all scratched.
Silvertips 7, Americans 5
Tri-City 1 2 2— 5
Everett 5 2 0 — 7
First Period—1, Everett, Sandhu 17 (Winquist, Hayer), 1:31. 2, Everett, Oslanski 17, 7:12. 3, Everett, Stadnyk 8 (MacDonald, Soumelidis), 8:31. 4, Tri-City, Yuen 9 (Bulbuc), 10:53. 5, Everett, Sandhu 18 (Winquist, Hayer), 17:11. 6, Everett, Petryk 16, 18:30. Penalties—Oslanski, Everett (hooking), 3:53.
Second Period—7, Everett, Sandhu 19 (Hayer, Winquist), 8:00. 8, Tri-City, Stromwall 20 (Mychan, Feser), 12:05 (pp). 9, Everett, Skapski 2 (Betker, Oslanski), 13:21. 10, Tri-City, Rankin 32 (Bowles, Messier), 16:03. Penalties—Filbrandt, Tri-City (hooking), 4:02; Tomchuk, Tri-City (cross checking), 8:43; Zipp, Everett (tripping), 11:03; Betker, Everett (high sticking), 16:26; Zipp, Everett (high sticking), 17:15; Walter, Tri-City (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.
Third Period—11, Tri-City, Mychan 19 (Yuen, Feser), 7:33 (pp). 12, Tri-City, Stromwall 21 (Feser, Williams), 15:44 (pp). Penalties—Betker, Everett (cross checking), 6:30; Mychan, Tri-City (major-fighting-game misconduct), 10:30; Zipp, Everett (fighting), 10:30; Oslanski, Everett (roughing), 13:58.
Shots on goal—Tri-City 7-12-10—29. Everett 9-8-7—24. Power-play opportunities—Tri-City 3 of 6. Everett 0 of 4.
Goalies—Tri-City, Lee-Knight 11-9-0-0 (24 shots, 17 saves). Everett, Cotton 10-19-0-2 (29 shots, 24 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.