In case you somehow missed it, the Everett Silvertips beat the Tri-City Americans 3-1 Thursday in Game 4 to move within one win of their second-ever WHL Western Conference championship.
The Tips can clinch with a Game 5 win tonight at Angel of the Winds Arena. Everett has won all six road games so this postseason.
To what does head coach Dennis Williams attribute that success?
“Maybe it’s the good meals that James Stucky, our equipment manager, gets us on the road - I’m not sure,” Williams said with a grin. “Whether it’s home or way, we’ve said all year we have to hit the reset button no matter where we are.”
My Herald colleague Nick Patterson is filling in for me today at Tips headquarters and will have a column appearing in Saturday’s paper. Nevertheless, I wanted to mention a few observations from Thursday’s game.
1. Carter Hart was locked in all night long. Yes, the Americans did beat him once early in the third period to cut Everett’s lead to 2-1, but you got the sense that wasn’t going to matter. Hart turned in a vintage performance that included three penalties killed in the second period.
“(Hart) is excellent every game,” Everett forward Riley Sutter said of his roommate. “We’re very confident when he is between the pipes and he’s been making big saves all year, and he hasn’t changed when it comes to the playoffs.”
The Tips also did a tremendous job getting in shooting lanes to keep the Americans off the scoreboard.
“There were a couple huge blocks for some guys, and that’s what it takes to win,” Hart said. “They want to win bad and they’re sacrificing their bodies on the line and coming up with some huge blocks in the game.”
2. Tri-City’s best chance to tie came late in the third when Dylan Coghlan’s shot from the slot hit the crossbar behind Hart and bounced out. In fact, that was the lead of Andy Eide’s story.
“It took a couple of weird bounces,” Hart said. “It bounced over top of my shoulder and hit the cross bar, (and) I thought ‘holy cow.’ But when you’re playing hard and playing the right way you’re going to get lucky bounces like that. We definitely played really hard tonight.”
3. Everett’s third line came through again. Reece Vitelli, who had just two goals in 70 regular-season games, tallied his fourth of the postseason and now has seven points in 14 postseason games.
Vitelli’s linemate, Martin Fasko-Rudas, suffered an undisclosed injury late in Thursday’s game and was replaced by Spencer Gerth.
“(Gerth did a) great job,” Williams said. “After the game I called him out for playing really well. He… hasn’t played a lot of minutes in the series so much, and he did a really nice job for sure.”
Williams did not have an update on Fasko-Rudas’s condition after the game and didn’t tell Nick much on Friday. If the Slovakian rookie cannot play Saturday, the Tips would presumably dress either Ty Westgard or Dawson Butt in the 12th forward slot.
4. The Dewar-Sutter-Pilon line continues to shut down Tri-City’s Rasmussen-Geekie-Olson line. The Everett trio has combined for seven goals and eight assists while holding its Americans counterpart to five goals and two assists. Rasmussen has scored just once during five-on-five play and Geekie has not scored since Game 1. Both players came into the series averaging three points per game in the postseason.
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