EVERETT — A bevy of scoring options is typically needed for deep playoff runs.
The Everett Silvertips, without their top scorer Connor Dewar due to injury, demonstrated that well on Saturday in a 4-3 win over Tri-City in Game 2 of a Western Hockey League first-round playoff series at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“This time of year, you have to have depth,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “If you don’t have depth you don’t move on too far in playoffs.”
After Krystof Hrabik’s power-play goal at 10:51 in the first period, Martin Fasko-Rudas knotted the score with a power-play goal of his own, deflecting a shot from the right point from Artyom Minulin past Tri-City goaltender Beck Warm.
The Slovakian forward has come on strong, scoring in Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series and four goals in his last two games of the regular season, including a hat trick against Victoria in the finale.
“It was a big power-play goal for us,” Williams said.
Then it was a defenseman Jake Christiansen, whose first goal of the playoffs put the Silvertips up 2-1. Bryce Kindopp left him a drop pass at the top of the left circle and the 19-year-old blueliner clapped a one-timer over Warm’s right shoulder at 9:02 in the second period.
“(Artyom Minulin) made a great breakout pass there and (Kindopp) put it right in my wheelhouse,” Christiansen said. “If it was a little in front or behind, I probably wouldn’t have shot it right away, but he put it right in my wheelhouse. It was perfect. Great pass by him.”
After that, it was a pair of rookies generating offense for the Silvertips, just 19 seconds after Christiansen’s tally. After a costly turnover by the Americans behind their own net, 16-year-old Jackson Berezowski fed Gage Goncalves in the slot, who snapped it blocker-side for his first career playoff goal.
“I thought that gave us the jump we needed to finish off the period,” Williams said.
Williams said he was happy with effort from the aforementioned pair of rookies in their second career playoff game.
“They skated really well, those two guys, and I thought they were rewarded off of that,” Williams said. “I thought (Berezowski) played an exceptional game. I thought he was hard on pucks and fast on pucks. And I thought (Goncalves) did a really nice job of getting to the net and streaming pucks.”
To put a bow on a momentous second frame, a pair of midseason acquisitions made it 4-1 at the at the 18:23 mark. Max Patterson, who was acquired in November from Swift Current, received a drop pass from Kindopp at the right point and flung a pass to Robbie Holmes, acquired at the deadline from Regina, who pinched down and tapped it past Warm for his first goal of the playoffs.
“He’s been dynamite,” Williams said of Holmes. “He’s been one of our best two players the first two games for us. The things he does out there, his intangibles, with how hard he plays, how heavy he is on the walls, he hard he goes netfront … His leadership the last two games has really showed.”
The Americans kept it interesting in the third because of some penalty trouble on Everett’s end. With Warm pulled from the 17:30 mark on, Wyatte Wylie was called for a hooking penalty at 18:30, and with Berezowski and Don Schmiemann already in the box for corresponding roughing penalties, Aaron Hyman capitalized on the two-man advantage with a slapshot goal from the top of the right circle to cut the lead to only one.
Nolan Yaremko scored an unassisted, shorthanded goal at 2:36 in the third period after shooting a puck off Ian Walker’s skate and into Everett’s net to trim the lead to two.
“I thought we quit playing in the third,” Williams said. “I thought we weren’t playing to win, we were staying on our heels instead of our toes. … That’s a team, they’ve never quit. They’ve hung in games and they’ve done a good job of it. At the end of the day in playoffs, you don’t care how you get the win. You get the win and you move on.”
Everett goalie Dustin Wolf stopped 28 of 31 shots to earn his second career playoff win.
Warm made 35 saves for the Americans.
The officials also put their stamp on the game, especially after some physicality ensued with Tri-City trying to spark a comeback attempt, with 34 penalties being issued over the 60 minutes. As a result, special teams was a huge factor.
“We played a lot of 4-on-4 and normally this time of year they let players play a little harder,” Williams said. “I thought our guys did a good job of controlling their emotions and playing in check.”
Williams said that it was determined before the game on Saturday that Dewar couldn’t go. He he did not skate out after being named the first star of the game and was not made available for postgame interviews after leaving the bench to go the dressing room during the third period on Friday.
“We just thought we’d rest him today,” Williams said. “I’d probably think he could go Wednesday.”
A cross-check from Americans’ defenseman Schmiemann resulted in a line brawl late in the second period, resulting in 10 total penalties, six of which were 10-minute misconducts.
Christiansen was right in the thick of it and recounted what he was thinking and his reaction to the play.
“I thought that was going to be the end of it,” Christiansen said of the initial cross-check on Zack Andrusiak. “But then someone went after one of our players, and I know my ‘D’ partner flew in and I flew in. I don’t know what happened behind me.
“That’s a big thing for our team to stick in it all together. Not one guy didn’t have a guy. It was huge for us.”
Kindopp steps up
Kindopp assisted on two of Everett’s three second period goals on Saturday night, which may have been due to a spark from his head coach.
“I wasn’t happy with Bryce’s play in the first period. I thought he was well above average,” Williams said. “I called him in and challenged him and told him he needed to be a leader. He’s an assistant captain here and a third-year guy. He needed to play the game right.
“I thought in the second and third he elevated (his play). … He’s been a horse for us all year and one of our more reliable players for sure. But this time of year, we need our best players to be our best and I thought he had a lackluster 20 minutes. In the last forty, he picked it up.”
With Dewar out, Williams moved Reece Vitelli to center Everett’s top line of Kindopp and Fasko-Rudas (at least to start the game). To fill Vitelli third-line, Goncalves moved up to play center, despite being more comfortable on the wings.
“We always tell our guys that they need to play all positions and they need to be able to play defense,” Williams said.
A rookie account
Berezowski played a decent role in Game 2 as a 16-year-old rookie. It’s didn’t take him long to adjust to the playoff intensity, he said.
“I think after my first shift during the first game I kind of settled in, then you just have to realize it’s like any other game.”
The series pivots to the Toyota Center in Kennewick for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is on Wednesday with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop.
Josh Horton covers the Everett Silvertips and AquaSox for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter (@joshhortonEDH) or reach out to him over email (firstname.lastname@example.org).