Pressure is nothing new for Silvertips

  • Nick Patterson / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, April 7, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

EVERETT – The pressure’s on for the Everett Silvertips.

The Silvertips trail the Vancouver Giants 2-1 in their best-of-seven Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinal series. If Everett loses tonight’s Game 4 at the Everett Events Center, the Silvertips face the daunting task of having to win three straight to advance, with two of those games in Vancouver.

Therefore, the Silvertips are treating tonight’s contest as a must-win game.

“It’s definitely a must-win,” Everett defenseman Mitch Love said. “Statistics tell you that Game 3 is one of those games where a team seems to get an advantage by winning Game 3. Obviously Game 4 for us is a must-win or our backs are against the wall. So we’ve got to come out here in the jungle and do something special because we need a big win.”

Added captain Bryan Nathe: ” (Game 4) is really important. You never want to be down two games in a series, so I think all the guys know the importance of this game coming up. Hopefully we get a ‘W’ out of it.”

With the must-win status comes an added amount of pressure. But that’s nothing new for the Silvertips, who have already been under some pressure in this series.

“We knew it was a must-win on Saturday night (in Game 2) when we were down 1-0,” Everett goalie Jeff Harvey said. “We won that one so we feel confident. But it’s going to be a battle for 60 minutes again.”

Indeed, the Silvertips feel like they’ve been under pressure the entire season.

“We’ve never approached this season other than one game at a time,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “We’ve just gone out to play our next first period and our next period and that’s how we’ll approach this one. We’ve been under pressure for the whole season because we had to scramble back from 0-4-1 just to get ourselves in the playoff picture, then trying to set a record for most wins (by an expansion franchise), then we spent the whole last week of the season trying to win a division. So we’ve been under pressure for a long time. I don’t think that’s much of a factor for us.”

Down the stretch the Silvertips performed admirably when under pressure. Everett won on its first attempt at breaking the WHL record for wins by and expansion team, blowing out Portland 6-2. And when the Silvertips fell behind in the race for the U.S. Division title, they came up with three straight wins, including the clinching 2-1 victory at front runner Tri-City.

“There’s always pressure this time of year,” Harvey said. “It’s the playoffs, there’s pressure to perform well and we’ve dealt with it well all year. I don’t really see a problem for our team. We’ve just got to go out and play the same type of hockey we’ve been playing all series, but just capitalize on our chances.”

One other thing that may put pressure on Everett is the status of left wing Tyler Dietrich, who did not practice Wednesday and is very doubtful for today’s game.

Dietrich, one of Everett’s most creative offensive players, took a hit to the head late in Game 2 and had to be helped from the ice. He did not play in Game 3.

“From that hit that he took at the end of the game, his neck is just tight as can be,” Constantine said. “His neck and his back are so sore that he’s not ready.”

Constantine said Dietrich would be re-evaluated on a game-by-game basis.

Slap shots: Fans traveling to Friday’s Game 5 in Vancouver have the opportunity for a unique doubleheader. The start time was changed from 7:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. so that the game doesn’t conflict with the Vancouver Canucks’ NHL playoff game against the Calgary Flames. The Vancouver-Calgary game will be shown on the big screen at Pacific Coliseum following the Silvertips-Giants game. … The Seattle Thunderbirds, in an effort to create a greater home-ice advantage, have reached an agreement with KeyArena to curtain off the upper bowl for their home games. KeyArena’s capacity will drop from 11,133 to 6,324. … Red Deer defenseman Dion Phaneuf was named the WHL Player of the Week. Phaneuf had two goals and two assists as Red Deer took a 2-0 series lead against Moose Jaw. … Kamloops head coach Dean Clark, who took over as interim director of hockey operations midway through the season, signed a two-year contract to remain in both positions. The club holds an option for a third season.

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