EVERETT — For much of the third period it seemed like it was the Everett Silvertips who were going to produce the tie-breaking goal.
But one moment of indiscretion proved fatal for the Tips.
A penalty with 1 minute, 15 seconds remaining presented one last chance to the Victoria Royals, and the Royals converted to snatch a 3-2 victory Tuesday night at Comcast Arena.
Everett had more of the puck throughout the game, outshooting Victoria 34-21, and the Tips seemed the likelier team to score after they tied it 2-2 midway through the third.
But with 1:15 remaining Victoria’s Austin Carroll was trying to chip the puck off the boards to himself at his own blue line, and Everett defenseman Micheal Zipp tripped him up in the process, handing the Royals one last chance to win it.
And win it the Royals did. Victoria worked the puck around, causing the Tips to get into scramble mode, and that opened up the opportunity for Alex Blomqvist to set up Ben Walker for a shot into a gaping net with 35.2 seconds remaining.
“The later in the game you go, the more every situation is magnified, good or bad,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “It’s those pressure kind of situations you have to play in and you have to be good at. You have to enjoy them and want to be in those situations. Taking a penalty at that time, that’s a tough time because you don’t have any chance to recover, as we saw. It’s what we’re trying to work on and grow and improve on as a team and as players.”
Taylor Crunk and Steven Hodges scored the other goals for Victoria (26-13-0-2), which won its fifth straight. Patrik Polivka earned the win in goal for the Royals, making 32 saves.
“We played a really systematically safe game, a really strong team game, I thought for a full 60 minutes,” said Hodges, who in addition to his goal also assisted on the game winner. “We were lucky to get that power play at the end and get it into the net, since earlier in the game we weren’t doing much on our power play. The power play was the difference, and that was our plan going into the game.”
Logan Aasman and Patrick Bajkov scored for Everett (23-12-4-0). For both players it was their first goal of the season, and for Bajkov it was the 16-year-old rookie’s first in the WHL. Their goals, which both came as a part of Everett’s No. 2 power-play unit, were a silver lining for a Tips team desperate for secondary scoring with overage forwards Joshua Winquist and Manraj Hayer out because of concussions.
Austin Lotz finished with 18 saves in net for the Tips. His saves included a miracle diving stop with his glove, as well as turning aside three breakaways.
The teams play again this afternoon in Victoria.
Tuesday’s game followed a familiar script for the Tips at Comcast Arena, where Everett has lost five straight. In the past three home contests, when the Tips were missed key personnel because of injuries and international duty, Everett still managed to outshoot its opponent by a wide margin. But Everett only put four pucks in the net in those three games as the cutting edge in front of goal, particularly with Winquist and Hayer out, was missing.
“I thought there were some offensive situations that we were unprepared for, that we could have done a little more with,” Constantine said. “When you receive a puck in hockey you should be prepared for your next option before you get the puck. There were some situations where we could have turned things into two-on-ones and three-on-twos and found some things offensively, and I don’t think we were ready for that.
“I don’t have a problem with that, every guy brings a different skill level to the game,” Constantine continued. “We try to work not he mental side of being prepared for the situations that arrive. But that’s the nature of players who don’t have those kind of gifts, either. Those are things that Manny Hayer and Josh Winquist do in a very natural way. Our guys are learning and developing and in some cases young and inexperienced, so that’s a process they’re going through trying to learn those things. In the meantime your big concern is you play hard and with some detail, and for the most part I thought we played extremely hard.”
Everett had the shots in the first period, outshooting Victoria 13-5, but it was the Royals who found the goal. Lotz had just made an amazing flying glove save to deny Victoria on a back-door rebound during a Royals power play. However, shortly after, Crunk put a wrister into the top corner straight off a faceoff win with just one second remaining on the advantage, giving Victoria a 1-0 lead at 14:42.
The Tips tied it with a power-play goal of their own 4:22 into the second period. Cole MacDonald’s shot from the point was saved up into the air, and Aasman was able to tip the airborne puck into the net, knotting it at 1-1. The goal ended a lengthy goal drought for Aasman as he was goalless in his first 35 games of the season.
Victoria regained its lead with 2:12 remaining in the period. Good work by Austin Carroll in the corner freed him up to whip a pass out front. Hodges did a good job controlling the pass before slipping a backhander under Lotz to make it 2-1.
Everett tied it again at 6:56 of the third. MacDonald’s shot from the point deflected off a defender’s skate right to Bajkov in the slot, and Bajkov put it in to make it 2-2. Aasman was then in free twice on the same shift shortly after, but was denied by Polivka both times. Then Lotz made a flashy glove save to deny Carroll on a breakaway, but he couldn’t stop Walker on the winner.
Royals 3, Silvertips 2
Victoria 1 1 1 — 3
Everett 0 1 1 — 2
First Period—1, Victoria, Crunk 4 (Fisher), 14:42 (pp). Penalties—Betker, Everett (checking to the head), 12:43; Leedahl, Everett (interference), 19:35.
Second Period—2, Everett, Aasman 1 (MacDonald, Stadnyk), 4:22 (pp). 3, Victoria, Hodges 7 (Carroll, Palmer), 17:48. Penalties—Skapski, Victoria (holding), 2:37; Stadnyk, Everett (checking from behind), 11:23; Schacher, Victoria (interference), 14:57.
Third Period—4, Everett, Bajkov 1 (Leedahl, MacDonald), 6:56 (pp). 5, Victoria, B. Walker 17 (Blomqvist, Hodges), 19:24 (pp). Penalties—Betker, Everett (kneeing), 2:58; Schacher, Victoria (interference), 5:08; Skapski, Victoria (elbowing), 11:37; Zipp, Everett (tripping), 18:45.
Shots on goal—Victoria 5-8-8—21. Everett 13-12-9—34. Power-play opportunities—Victoria 2 of 5. Everett 2 of 4.
Goalies—Victoria, Polivka 17-9-0-1 (34 shots, 32 saves). Everett, Lotz 16-10-1-0 (21 shots, 18 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.