Silvertips coach: ‘We got beat by a great hockey club’

Everett likely will look back at games 2 and 4 as missed opportunities.

SWIFT CURRENT, Saskatchewan — The hallway outside the Everett Silvertips dressing room Sunday night was predictably somber.

The Tips saw perhaps their best season ever come to a close with a 3-0 defeat to Swift Current in Game 6 of the WHL championship series Sunday.

“They’re emotionally upset, and they should be,” head coach Dennis Williams said of his team. “It’s never fun closing out a season whenever it happens. It’s rough for a lot of guys that sacrificed and played a lot of hockey this year. Our 20-year-olds have been in the franchise for five years and it’s emotional for them right now, and it’s going to be a stinger, I’m sure.”

The Tips struggled in the first period Sunday and it ultimately cost them. Swift Current’s first goal came via power play less than seven minutes in. The Tips failed to clear the puck and goalie Carter Hart said he “got knocked over a little bit.” Consequently he was out of position and Giorgio Estephan had essentially an open net.

Then the Broncos pushed their lead to 2-0 with less than a second to go in the opening period. Williams indicated that he thought there was a slew foot penalty off the faceoff that went uncalled. Nevertheless, Aleksi Heponiemi cashed in just before the horn would have sounded.

That was more than enough, though Beck Malenstyn’s empty-netter completed the scoring with less than 10 seconds to play.

Swift Current goaltender Stuart Skinner shut out the Tips twice and finished with a .948 save percentage in the series. His .932 save percentage and six shutouts were both postseason bests. Hart, the WHL goaltender and player of the year, finished with a .919 percentage in the series and a .921 postseason percentage.

The Tips likely also will look back at Games 2-4 as missed opportunities. They led 3-0 after one period at Swift Current in Game 2 before falling 4-3 in overtime. Everett led 2-1 in Game 3 at home before allowing a shorthanded goal with less than five minutes to play in regulation, and went on to lose again in overtime. The Tips dropped a 1-0 decision in Game 4 as they surrendered one power-play goal.

Everett bounced back with a 6-3 win in Game 5 to bring the series back to Saskatchewan where the Tips ultimately saw their season end.

“It wasn’t for lack of effort,” Williams said. “It is a resilient group we got, and we got beat by a great hockey club.”

For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.

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