A fatal mistake at an inopportune time doomed the Tips in this one.
The score was tied when, with 1:15 remaining in regulation, Victoria’s Austin Carroll tried to chip the puck off the boards to himself at his own blue line. In the process, he was tripped by Everett defenseman Micheal Zipp, giving the Royals a power play.
To that point Everett, which tied it earlier in the period, seemed the likelier team to break the deadlock. But Victoria took advantage of the power play, working the puck around to get the Tips into scramble mode, and Axel Blomqvist was able to set up Ben Walker for a shot into a gaping net with 35.2 seconds remaining. Everett didn’t have enough time to try and get it back.
It’s been an eerily similar script at Comcast Arena in recent days. Everett has lost five straight at home, and in the past three the Tips outshot their opponent by a wide margin (34-21 tonight) despite missing key personnel, but had trouble putting the puck into the net (four goals total in the three games).
But at least there were signs of some other secondary scoring for Everett tonight. The goals both came from the second power-play unit and from unlikely sources. Logan Aasman was goalless in all 35 of his games this season before tipping an airborne puck in during the second period tonight. And 16-year-old rookie Patrick Bajkov got his first career WHL goal isn the third.
There was much crowd reaction to Zipp’s penalty. Some of it was displeasure with the call. But I suspect some of it was also reaction to knowing it could be the game’s decisive moment, and it was.
First star: Walker. One goal, it was the game winner, also had good short-handed chances.
Second star: Austin Lotz, Everett. 18 saves may not be a lot, but they included maybe the best save I’ve seen all year on a miracle diving glove stop, as well as turning aside three breakaways.
Third star: Patrik Polivka, Victoria. 32 saves, a solid performance.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Cole MacDonald, Everett. Two primary assists as the point man on Everett’s No. 2 power-play unit, looks comfortable back in a full-time defensive role.