EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips gave the Portland Winterhawks a sterner test than anyone expected.
But ultimately the Winterhawks were too much for the Tips to handle.
Everett’s season came to an end Monday night as the Tips fell 5-1 to Portland in Game 6 of their first-round WHL playoff series.
Oliver Bjorkstrand had two goals and two assists as Portland overwhelmed an exhausted Everett team to win the best-of-seven series 4-2. Seth Jones also scored twice as the Winterhawks gave one final demonstration of why they won the Scotty Munro Trophy for the league’s best record.
“We worked hard,” Everett winger Reid Petryk said. “We showed good character, I think. But it’s a tough one. They’re a good team.”
Portland’s also a team that was expected to blow right through the Tips without breaking a sweat. Eighth-seeded Everett was an overwhelming underdog against top-seeded Portland. The Winterhawks finished with more than twice as many points as the Tips during the regular season (117-57) and won the season series 9-1. The playoff series was almost universally predicted to end in a Portland sweep.
But a young and inexperienced Everett team, which was also deprived two of its top six forwards because of injury, found a way to take two games off the best opposition the league can muster.
“I don’t think anybody gave us much hope of getting to Game 6 against them,” Everett interim coach Garry Davidson said.
“I was pretty excited about the way our guys dug in and managed to win two of the games,” Davidson added. “We certainly would have liked to have gotten one more to get a chance at them in Game 7. But they came out and played a very good game against us. They wouldn’t give us the puck all night long. They were very good tonight.”
Taylor Leier scored the other goal for Portland, which advanced to face either Spokane or Seattle in the second round. If Seattle wins its series against Kelowna the Winterhawks will face the seventh-seeded T-birds. If Seattle loses, Portland faces the fourth-seeded Chiefs.
Mac Carruth earned the win in goal with 12 saves.
Reid Petryk scored the lone goal for Everett. Austin Lotz turned in another heroic performance in goal for the Tips, making 47 saves to keep the score respectable.
“They really hung in there,” Jones said about the Tips. “They did everything they could, and they had a lot of guys step up for them.”
For a moment it looked as though the Tips might actually make a run at forcing a Game 7. Everett struck first while short-handed just 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the game. An ill-advised pass back to the point by Ty Rattie was picked off by Petryk, who broke away and put a shot under Carruth to give the Tips a 1-0 lead.
But that merely delayed the inevitable. The Winterhawks tied it at 7:16 when Jones muscled his way through stick checks in the slot and put a backhander over Lotz’s shoulder to make it 1-1. Portland then took the lead at 14:58, Bjorkstrand forcing home a rebound following Derrick Pouliot’s shot off the rush.
The Winterhawks scored two more in the second period. It could have been 10 as Portland put 20 shots on goal and had just as many quality scoring chances. But a combination of last-ditch defending and spectacular Lotz saves kept the puck out of the net for 15 minutes.
However, the constant Portland pressure wore the Tips down and eventually led to Everett penalties, and the Winterhawks scored twice on the power play late in the period to earn reward for their domination. Bjorkstrand put a deflected shot into the top of the net at 15:14, then Jones one-timed a deflected puck in the slot into the top corner at 18:43. Portland led 4-1, and the Tips were running on fumes from chasing the Winterhawks all over the ice.
“About the 25- or 30-minute mark you could really see we were struggling with keeping up with their pace,” Davidson said. “That’s the biggest difference, they play at a much higher tempo and pace than we do. And when you’re defending all night long the way we were, that drains a lot of energy.”
Portland could have made the final scoreline ugly in the third period, outshooting Everett 15-1. But Lotz was at his acrobatic best, only allowing Leier’s redirect in front at 3:47.
Monday’s game was the first of the series in which Everett sniper Joshua Winquist did not find the net. Winquist finished with six goals in the series. … Everett 15-year-old defensemen Kevin Davis and Noah Juulsen, who had been called up since the final weekend of the regular season, returned home Sunday for school purposes and were not available Monday. Davis appeared in three games during the series, including both Everett victories. Juulsen did not appear in the series. … Monday’s game was Everett’s first in April since 2007. The Tips didn’t manage to get out of March from 2008-12 as they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs each year.
Winterhawks 5, Silvertips 1
Portland 2 2 1 — 5
Everett 1 0 0 — 1
First Period—1, Everett, Petryk 3 (Bauml), 2:14 (sh). 2, Portland, Jones 1 (Peters), 7:16. 3, Portland, Bjorkstrand 2 (Pouliot, Leier), 14:58. Penalties—Betker, Everett (tripping), 1:10; Pouliot, Portland (roughing), 6:47; Oslanski, Everett (roughing), 6:47; Baker, Portland (tripping), 17:29.
Second Period—4, Portland, Bjorkstrand 3 (Wotherspoon, De Leo), 15:14 (pp). 5, Portland, Jones 2 (Wotherspoon, Bjorkstrand), 18:43 (pp). Penalties—Iverson, Portland (interference), 9:58; Nikkel, Everett (slashing), 13:49; Leipsic, Portland (roughing), 17:56; Betker, Everett (roughing), 17:56; Lotz, Everett (hold stick), 17:56.
Third Period—6, Portland, Leier 2 (De Leo, Bjorkstrand), 3:47. Penalties—Iverson, Portland (goaltender interference), 4:52; MacDonald, Everett (tripping), 15:34; Oslanski, Everett (slashing), 19:36.
Shots on goal—Portland 17-20-15—52. Everett 8-4-1—13. Power-play opportunities—Portland 2 of 5. Everett 0 of 3.
Goalies—Portland, Carruth 4-2 (13 shots, 12 saves). Everett, Lotz 2-4 (52 shots, 47 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.