The Updated Game Story
EVERETT – For 44 days the Everett Silvertips led the U.S. Division.
On Friday, the Seattle Thunderbirds reclaimed the top spot in the standings in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 shootout victory before the 7,206 fans at Xfinity Arena.
Seattle (37-23-3-0) and Everett (36-21-4-3) are each tied with 79 points, but the Thunderbirds claimed the official division lead by virtue of more victories.
A late tying goal by Everett’s Connor Dewar set up a scoreless overtime and no fewer than seven shooters were needed to decide a victor. Seattle’s Nolan Volcan scored on the Thunderbirds’ seventh shot and Seattle goaltender Landon Bow saved Matt Fonteyne’s tying attempt to send the T-Birds off the bench to swarm their netminder.
“We’re in a bit of a slump and we tried to get out of it,” Everett defenseman Cole MacDonald said. “We just tried to stick to the details and get our game back. It was close tonight and we had a bunch of chances to score. We just didn’t get the luck. We had chances to score in the shootout, but that’s hockey. That’s how it goes.”
Everett forwarad Remi Laurencelle took Everett’s fifth shot and deked Bow, who managed to get his stick on the puck and knock it away.
“He made a good move and beat me and luckily I got a piece of it,” Bow said. “I just got my stick down there and hoped that something good would happen.”
The Tips had held the division lead over the preseason favorite T-Birds thanks to six wins in the team’s first seven match-ups. Friday’s defeat was Seattle’s only win in five games at Xfinity Arena this season. The two teams conclude their 10-game regular-season tilt next Friday at ShoWare Center in Kent.
Bow was often spectacular en route to 40 saves. The lone blemish came on Dewar’s putback of MacDonald’s point shot at 17:15 in the third tied the game and forced overtime.
“Their goaltender played well tonight – we just have to get more bodies in front of him and hope that way that pucks get through,” Everett defenseman Noah Juulsen said. “We need to get more traffic in front of him. He’s a big goalie and he’s a good goalie.”
Neither team converted in the extra time despite several good looks from each side.
Dewar’s goal was the first tally since the opening period. Seattle scored first when Nick Holowko carried the puck through the neutral zone and to the mouth of the goal before he fed a cross-crease pass to Ryan Gropp, who flicked it into the open net for a 1-0 lead at 8:44 in the opening period.
Everett, after being outshot 10-7 in the first period, outshot Seattle 17-6 in the second frame.
“I thought we were tentative in the first period and I think the guys were nervous about how big a game it was,” Everett head coach Kevin Constantine said. “We got untracked in the second and had some glorious chances that we missed, but we hung in there and both goalies were good.”
Holowko’s goal wasn’t the only first-period incident. Everett’s Spencer Gerth and Seattle’s Luke Osterman dropped gloves at 2:28 and were each given five minutes for fighting. The bout was likely a continuation of the one the two held during Everett’s Feb. 6 visit to Kent when the two were separated before either threw a punch.
The Tips clanged three attempts of the post in the first period, and squandered a two-man advantage at 10:37 in the second. Everett had several good looks, but Bow came up strong each time.
“We had really good chances and I thought it was the best we had done in a 5-on-3 this year,” Constantine said. “You gotta finish it, but in terms of moving the puck around and the choices you have to make, I thought we made great offensive choices – we just didn’t finish. I wasn’t upset with the 5-on-3 other than we just didn’t score.”
Everett was 0-for-5 on the power play while Seattle was 0-for-3. The second statistic was a minor feat for the Tips as the T-Birds are second in the league in both categories.
Hart finished with 26 saves in the losing effort.
Seattle has now won six straight and 10 of its last 11 games. The Tips will look to bounce back tonight at home against the Tri-City Americans at 7.
I thought it was telling that Constantine said the team was tentative in the opening period. The Tips were very aware of how important this game is in terms of hanging another banner at Xfinity Arena. Everett hasn’t looked tentative often this season and generally plays its best against its best opponents. Look no further than a 3-0-1 mark against defending WHL champ Kelowna and a 6-1-1-1 record against Seattle.
Both Everett and Seattle have seven games remaining including one final match-up next Friday in Kent.
Everett did struggle at times to get the puck out of its own zone, but once it did the Tips generated all kinds of chances.
Bow was very impressive, though the Tips led him off the hook at least once during the 5-on-3 when Carson Stadnyk came up empty off a pass in front of an open net with Bow out of position. The overage goalie has stymied the Tips the last two times the teams have played and has allowed one goal in the last 125 minutes against Everett.
Bow also stopped all seven of Everett’s penalty shots. Carter Hart matched Bow through six shooters before Volcan fired the game-winner past Hart’s right shoulder.
Constantine lauded the effort of Everett’s third line – consisting of Brandon Ralph, Devon Skoleski and Brian King – as having the best shift of the opening period. Ralph had a look that hit the post.
The Turning Point
There were many. I’ll go with Laurencelle’s near-goal in the fifth round of the shootout when Bow somehow managed to get his stick on the puck and keep it out of the net.
1. Seattle G Landon Bow: The netminder had 40 saves and saved all seven penalty shots while narrowly missing his second straight shutout against the Tips.
2. Everett G Carter Hart: Hart had 26 saves and six stops in the shootout.
3. Everett F Connor Dewar: The rookie got himself in position and was rewarded when he scored Everett’s only goal off a rebound late in the third period.
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