The last time a WHL championship series game took place in Everett was May 5, 2004. The arena wasn’t called Angel of the Winds Arena like it is today. It wasn’t even Comcast Arena, it was still referred to as the Everett Events Center.
That was a Wednesday night when the 2003-04 WHL season drew to a close, as the Medicine Hat Tigers defeated the Everett Silvertips 4-2 before a sellout crowd to claim the league title in a four-game sweep.
Because of the sweep, there were only two games played in Everett in that year’s championship series. This year we know we’re getting three.
The WHL championship series between the Tips and the Swift Current Broncos switches to Everett this week after Games 1 and 2 took place over the weekend in Swift Current. The teams split the first two contests in the best-of-seven series, which means in the 2-3-2 format all three games scheduled for Everett will be played. Those games are set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights at Angel of the Winds Arena.
We saw a pair of one-goal games over the weekend. Everett goaltender Carter Hart shined in Game 1 as the Tips prevailed 2-1 despite being outshot 35-25. Then in Game 2 Everett dominated early, building a 3-0 first-period lead, but was unable to hold it as the Broncos won 4-3 in overtime.
The first two games gave us a good look at what to expect from the teams in Games 3, 4 and 5. It’s a classic confrontation of speed versus strength, as Everett appears to be the better skating team, while Swift Current has the size advantage. Both teams shortened their benches considerably, running in essence two-and-a-half lines and two defensive pairings in the first two games. And both teams’ goaltenders made huge saves that preserved their team’s victory.
The loss in Game 2 ended Everett’s perfect road record in the playoffs — the Tips are now 8-1 away from home. So one can argue whether coming back home, where Everett is 5-4 in the postseason, constitutes an advantage for the Tips. Swift Current is 5-5 on the road in the playoffs (versus 8-4 at home).
On the other hand, this series is following the same pattern as the previous three series for Everett. The Tips split the first two games in each of their first three playoff series. Everett followed with three straight victories in both the first and second rounds to dispatch Seattle and Portland, then took three out of four to win in six games against Tri-City in the Western Conference finals.
So how will Everett fare in its three home games in the WHL championship series? Win all three and the Tips are champs. Lose all three and the Ed Chynoweth Cup goes home with the Broncos. Win one or two and the series heads back to Swift Current. Predict your tally here, and make sure you vote early as the poll will close Tuesday prior to the start of Game 3: