VICTORIA, B.C. — Someday the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals will look back at Game 6 of their best-of-seven Western Hockey League playoff series and recognize the role they played in a game that likely will live forever in the annals of CHL playoff hockey.
First, however, the Tips will give thanks that Cal Babych was biding away his time with the Coquitlam Express of the BCHL when Everett was unable to acquire a forward at January’s trade deadline.
Babych roofed a breakaway shot past Victoria goalie Griffen Outhouse in the fifth overtime as the Tips knocked off the Royals 3-2 in sudden-death and eliminated the Royals in six games before an announced crowd of 4,613 fans at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Sunday.
“I saw the three guys on me and I saw there was some room,” said Babych, who played with four other WHL teams in his career before the Tips listed him in January. “So I shot it and hoped for the best. It went in.”
Should have tweeted these earlier, but things happen. Like rushing to the ⛴ and inconsistent wifi over int'l waters. pic.twitter.com/nONko2dXuo
— Jesse Geleynse (@JesseGeleynse) April 3, 2017
The win propels the Tips into the Western Conference semifinals for the third consecutive year. They take on the same Seattle Thunderbirds team that eliminated them last season, beginning with Game 1 at 7:35 p.m. Friday at Xfinity Arena.
The Tips surpassed the club record for the longest game at 3:43 in the third overtime, and both teams broke the WHL record for longest game at 16:56 in the fourth overtime.
Then, with 6:31 gone in the fifth overtime, the game became the longest in CHL history, surpassing the 146:31 previously achieved by Victoriaville and Hull of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 1999.
“Overtime is such uncharted territory because you don’t even know how to coach,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “You coach based on experience and you don’t play overtime. I just know I’m glad it wasn’t 3-on-3. That’s all I know and we’re not very good at that. … I’m glad overtime is 5-on-5 and our guys just hung in there.”
Babych finally ended it at 11:36 in the fifth overtime, concluding a series-clinching contest that lasted 151:36 and nearly six hours of real time.
“It’s something I was working for all year and then obviously no one expects a game to go eight periods,” Babych said. “But I’m just glad that it’s over and we won.”
A Noah Juulsen shot from the point deflected off Victoria defenseman Marsel Ibragimov into the net and tied the game 2-2 at 1:36 in the third period.
That was the final goal for the next 110 minutes as both goaltenders took over.
The third and fourth overtimes were fraught with chances for both teams. Victoria outshot the Tips 21-20 during those frames, but neither team found the net.
“Obviously it could have gone either way,” Constantine said. “So many chances, so many shots — both goalies were fantastic. We had glorious opportunities and so did they, so you never know. You have no idea what’s going to happen.
“It was a helluva shot, though, to finish it by Cal.”
Everett’s best chances to win it early came in the first overtime. Patrick Bajkov had a look six minutes in with Outhouse on the ground and an open net, but Bajkov sent the puck wide. Dominic Zwerger later had a great look from the slot, but couldn’t slip it past Outhouse.
The script flipped a bit in the second overtime as Victoria held an 8-4 shot advantage and Everett needed a toe save from Hart to force the third overtime.
“Once you get past the first overtime or maybe midway through the first overtime, you’re just playing on whatever habits your season has produced for you,” Constantine said. “And you’re not going to be as good at those, but that foundation, if you have a really solid foundation from the way you play the game during the year, you’ll stay reasonably close to those habits under pressure.
“Obviously playoffs and fatigue are as high a pressure moment as you can get and not that we were in any way perfect with all of our habits, but their work during the season gives them the opportunity to have that kind of success.”
The Tips trailed 2-1 after two periods before Juulsen tied it with his first career playoff goal.
Outhouse came up with several key saves in a late-period flurry, including a kick save on a backhanded attempt by Connor Dewar, to keep the game knotted up and force overtime for the second consecutive game.
Like they have for much of the series, the Tips opened the scoring. It came in the second period when Brian King won a faceoff in the Victoria zone and chipped the pick toward Babych, who tipped it past the surprised Outhouse for the 1-0 lead at 6:31.
However, the Royals answered less than two minutes later, at 7:43, when Regan Nagy redirected Vladimir Bobylev’s shot from the left circle past Hart to tie the game.
Following an Everett holding penalty, Mitchell Prowse unleaded a slap shot from the left point and Jared Dmytriw tipped it over Hart’s shoulder to give Victoria the lead at 16:44.
Outhouse finished with 72 saves on 75 shots. Hart made 64 saves on 66 shots.
Babych’s two goals in Game 6 match the two he scored in 12 regular-season with Everett.
“Personally I’ve never been past the first round so that’s huge for me,” Babych said. “But for the team I think there are great things to come.”
Silvertips 3, Royals 2, 5 OT
Everett 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1— 3
Victoria 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0—2
1st Period—No Scoring.Penalties-Florchuk Vic (tripping), 5:40; Tuulola Evt (cross checking), 6:11; Reddekopp Vic (cross checking), 6:11; Christiansen Evt (tripping), 9:14; Prowse Vic (hooking), 12:25.
2nd Period—1, Everett, Babych 1 (King), 6:31. 2, Victoria, Nagy 2 (Soy, Bobylev), 7:42. 3, Victoria, Dmytriw 2 (Prowse, Nagy), 16:44 (PP). Penalties-Tuulola Evt (inter. on goaltender), 9:07; Hannoun Vic (inter. on goaltender), 11:55; Christiansen Evt (holding), 15:28; Nagy Vic (high sticking), 19:31.
3rd Period—4, Everett, Juulsen 1 1:36. Penalties-Anderson Evt (inter. on goaltender), 5:22.
OT Period—No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
2nd OT Period—No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
3rd OT Period—No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
4th OT Period—No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
5th OT Period—5, Everett, Babych 2 11:36. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal—Everett 14-5-11-11-4-13-7-10-75. Victoria 7-9-9-6-8-14-7-6-66.
Power Play Opportunities-Everett 0/4; Victoria 1/4.
Goalies—Everett, Hart (66 shots-64 saves). Victoria, Outhouse (75 shots-72 saves).