By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips boosted their playoff hopes Saturday with a crucial 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent.
And Everett’s cause may have been helped in more ways than one.
The T-birds received two suspensions from Saturday’s game in the fallout of an ugly incident that occurred late in the game — suspensions that could indirectly aid Everett’s efforts.
“It was probably one of the best hockey games I’ve ever been in,” said Tips winger Dawson Leedahl, who scored the game-winning goal. “Tempers were flaring. It’s hockey, it happens, it’s fun.”
Everett heads into the final week of the regular season in eighth place in the Western Conference. Saturday’s victory pulled the Tips within one point of Seattle as they seek the seventh seed. And now the T-birds will have to hold off Everett while short-handed.
In the final two minutes of Saturday’s game, a melee erupted after Everett defenseman Mirco Mueller hit Seattle’s Alexander Delnov hard into the boards. Seattle defenseman Evan Wardley hit Mueller in retaliation, prompting the melee which included Seattle goaltender Brandon Glover, who had just headed back to the Seattle bench in favor of an extra attacker, crossing the ice to fight Everett netminder Austin Lotz.
Wardley was given a charging major and a game misconduct and Glover was charged for leaving the crease, instigating, fighting and also received a game misconduct. Mueller was not penalized and Lotz was penalized for fighting.
“I don’t understand it,” was Everett general manager Garry Davidson’s reaction to the incident. “Delnov came down the wall, Mueller took him out solid, there was no penalty called. I know (Delnov) got banged up on it, but it was just a good, hard, hockey hit. Then they came after Mueller.
“They’re battling for a playoff spot, too. I don’t understand the thinking of it. A couple guys lost their cool and they’re paying for it now.”
After assessing the situation, the league suspended both Wardley and Glover. Wardley was given a two-game suspension for his fourth game misconduct of the season while Glover also was suspended two games for his game misconduct. The T-birds were also fined $500 for the goalie fight. Everett was not handed any penalties.
The suspensions mean Seattle is forced to play two of its final three games without Wardley and Glover. Glover’s absence is particularly vital. The overager has been Seattle’s workhorse No. 1 all season long. With Glover unavailable, the T-birds have to rely on 16-year-old rookie Danny Mumaugh, who has played sparingly.
And with the margins razor thin, the Tips will take any advantage they can get in their battle to make postseason play.
Saturday’s game may have been a road game for the Tips, but it didn’t always sound like it. A tremendous traveling contingent of Everett fans made the trip to ShoWare Center in Kent to support the Tips, and there were times when they made as much noise as the home supporters.
“There was a good crowd,” Leedahl said. “It was nice of them to come out. We could hear them every time we scored or if we were coming onto the ice. We’ve got the best fans in the league.”
Said Davidson: “There was a substantial number of Silvertips fans in the building, no question about. I noticed it, so I’ve got to think the players noticed it. That’s a positive thing, when you’re in a building like that and getting that kind of support. Especially for young players who can elevate their game on emotion by getting that kind of support. We see that at home, obviously. They’re a real positive influence on our young players.”
Fonteyne, Juulsen signed
Everett received commitments from two prospects when the Tips announced Tuesday they’ve signed 15-year-olds Matt Fonteyne and Noah Juulsen to WHL education contracts.
Fonteyne, a center who hails from Wetaskiwin, Alberta, was selected in the third round of the 2012 bantam draft. He had 16 goals and 18 assists in 34 games for the Leduc Oil Kings of the Alberta Midget Hockey League, finishing tied for 10th in the league in scoring.
Juulsen, a defenseman from Abbotsford, B.C., was Everett’s fourth-round pick in 2012. He had six goals and 19 assists in 35 games with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget League.
Everett has now signed four players from the 2012 bantam draft: Fonteyne, Juulsen, defenseman Kevin Davis (first round) and goaltender Nik Amundrud (third round).
Davis, Fonteyne and Juulsen have completed their midget seasons and joined the Tips this week. Fonteyne will spend one week in Everett, Davis and Juulsen are slated for two weeks. Davidson said he’d like to get the trio into a game this weekend, but it would depend on Everett’s playoff circumstances.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.