EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds will grow acquainted with each other the final third of the WHL season.
On Friday, the Tips won the latest installment of the rivalry with a 3-1 win over the T-birds before a raucous, sellout crowd of 8,164 fans at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“It’s easy to find energy when you’re tired, and of course the rivalry helps too,” said Everett forward Connor Dewar, whose third-period goal sealed the victory.
Everett’s win evened the season series at two games apiece. The teams will square off six more times before the end of the season beginning tonight at ShoWare Center in Kent as the teams complete their weekend home-and-home.
Friday’s victory was the eighth straight for U.S. Division-leading Everett (31-16-1-1, 64 points). The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Seattle (25-17-4-2, 56 points).
Tonight’s game doesn’t figure to get any easier. The Tips haven’t won at ShoWare Center since Game 1 of the 2016 Western Conference semifinals. Even with the loss the T-Birds remain third in the U.S. Division and eight points back of the Tips.
“They have guys up front that can really skate and move,” head coach Dennis Williams said. “They have big, strong heavy players back there that play physical as well and have a great makeup for their team.”
The victory moved the Tips four points in front of second-place Portland for the division lead. Portland fell 5-2 at Kamloops Friday.
Kelowna remains the Western Conference overall leader as the Rockets defeated the Medicine Hat Tigers in overtime Friday to stay a point in front of Everett. Kelowna also has a game in hand. The Rockets and Tips play a home-and-home series next weekend.
Matt Fonteyne, the reigning WHL player of the week, had a goal and an assist, while Bryce Kindopp and Dewar each found the net for the Tips.
Fonteyne now has 21 multi-point games this season and has tallied 24 points in his last nine contests. His recent play even has his teammates at a loss for words.
“I can’t (describe Fonteyne’s performance),” Dewar said. “I love playing with him and watching him every night. I’m lucky to be able to play with him.”
Carter Hart, the current WHL goaltender of the week, saved 20 of the 21 shots he faced.
The Tips outshot Seattle 33-21, including 25-12 over the final two periods.
Everett never trailed as it led 2-1 after two.
Dewar extended the lead when he played the puck off the boards to himself to create a two-on-one with Garrett Pilon. Dewar waited out Seattle defenseman Turner Ottenbreit, who went down to the ice, and stashed a wrister past T-birds goalie Liam Hughes for a 3-1 lead at 9:40.
“You just want to take what the defender gives you,” said Dewar, who 23 goals on the season. “If he slides you just wait it out. If there’s a pass you want to make it to the back door for the easy tap-in.
“I got the look I wanted,” Dewar added.
Seattle pulled Hughes with just under two minutes to play, but was unable to draw any closer in the final seconds.
Fonteyne previously broke a 1-1 tie with his wrister from the left circle on the power play just 34 seconds into the second period.
The Tips maintained their 2-1 lead after two.
“In the second and third we challenged our guys to elevate their speed, check with their legs more, reload and play the way we want to play,” Williams said. “We started to do that, and I thought we skated really well in the second and third.”
Everett struck first. Kindopp, bumped up to the top line with Sean Richards serving the first of a two-game suspension, buried a feed from Fonteyne at 9:25 for the 1-0 lead.
Shortly thereafter Seattle earned its first power play. Austin Strand’s wrister from the right circle beat a screened Hart as the Thunderbirds drew even at 11:50.
It remained 1-1 after one.
“I think we came out with a good couple shifts and then we kind of sat back a bit,” Dewar said. “We just want to play fast and set the pace, and I thought we were able to do that later in the game.”
Hughes, who missed the past five games with an upper-body injury, finished with 30 saves in a losing effort.
Both teams finished 1-for-4 on the power play.
Patrick Bajkov added an assist and is now two points behind Zach Hamill for the franchise record.
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Silvertips 3, Thunderbirds 1
Seattle 1 0 0 — 1
Everett 1 1 1 — 3
1st Period—1, Everett, Kindopp 14 (Fonteyne, Bajkov), 9:25. 2, Seattle, Strand 16 (Huo), 11:50 (PP). Penalties—Sutter Evt (tripping), 10:11; Williams Sea (slashing), 13:05; Pilon Evt (interference), 13:22; Huo Sea (tripping), 19:49.
2nd Period—3, Everett, Fonteyne 29 (Davis, Pilon), 0:34 (PP). Penalties—Tyszka Sea (roughing), 6:56; Ormsby Evt (roughing), 6:56; Wedman Sea (checking from behind), 8:05; Walker Evt (holding), 10:13.
3rd Period—4, Everett, Dewar 23 9:40. Penalties—Bajkov Evt (tripping), 1:24; Neuls Sea (hooking), 12:42; Malukhin Sea (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 15:39; Butt Evt (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 15:39; Andrusiak Sea (charging), 20:00.
Shots on Goal—Seattle 9-6-6-21. Everett 8-15-10-33.
Power Play Opportunities—Seattle 1 / 4; Everett 1 / 5.
Goalies—Seattle, Hughes 8-6-1-1 (33 shots-30 saves). Everett, Hart 18-3-0-1 (21 shots-20 saves).