KENT — Every week the Everett Silvertips end at least one practice by taking penalty shots from center ice.
On Friday it was a penalty shot goal from Connor Dewar that changed the course of the game as the Tips defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 7-3 in Game 4 of their WHL Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series before 4,175 fans at ShoWare Center.
With less than a minute to go in the opening period, Everett was nursing a 2-1 lead and killing a penalty. Dewar was hauled down from behind on a shorthanded breakaway attempt and calmly buried the ensuing penalty shot to give Everett a two-goal advantage heading into the second period.
“I was pretty tired, pretty exhausted after that shift, so I thought if I had a chance to shoot, I’d take it,” Dewar said. “I was trying to get a breakaway to score, but obviously on the penalty kill to draw one and have it go 4-on-4, that’s still a win.”
Everett added two more goals in the second period to assume a 5-1 lead, and has now pushed Seattle, its archrival and postseason nemesis to the brink of elimination.
Everett has never beaten Seattle in three previous playoff series, and the Thunderbirds have defeated the Tips in the second round in each of the past two seasons. The Tips lead this series 3-1 and have an opportunity to close it out at home tonight in Game 5 at Angel of the Winds Arena.
On Friday five different Tips players found the net for the first time in the series, including forwards Dewar, Sean Richards, Riley Sutter and Ethan O’Rourke, and defenseman Kevin Davis.
O’Rourke’s goal gave Everett a 5-1 lead in the third period and came off a faceoff win by Spencer Gerth. O’Rourke, Gerth and Bronson Sharp comprise Everett’s fourth line.
“This time of year that’s exactly what you need to win,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “You can’t just rely on the same five, six guys. If you do that, you’re probably not going real far, so we need everyone to elevate their game and put some points up and help in that manner.”
The Tips pushed it to 4-1 at 3:55 in the second period when Richards redirected a centering pass from Matt Fonteyne, and O’Rourke roofed a wrister past Hughes at 13:08 for the 5-1 lead.
But Seattle made it interesting.
Dillon Hamaliuk cut it to 5-2 at 1:36 in the third period when he finished a feed from Matthew Wedman. Then Wedman split the Everett defense and flicked a wrister over Carter Hart at 6:41 to cut the Thunderbirds’ deficit to 5-3.
“Playing against these guys, there are a lot of momentum shifts,” Dewar said. “We know these guys never quit. They’re the defending champs for a reason, and they have a lot of character over there.”
Sutter slammed home a second opportunity at 15:37 that restored Everett’s three-goal lead and Fonteyne added an empty-netter at 17:15.
The Tips never trailed as they scored twice in a 38-second span to take an early 2-0 lead in the first period.
The first came when Patrick Bajkov crashed the left post on the power play and buried a rebound past Liam Hughes at 12:10.
Then, before the goal announcement was completed, Davis scored between Hughes’ legs at 12:48 off a 3-on-2 Everett rush.
But the Thunderbirds cut the lead in half on the next shift when Nolan Volcan potted a rebound past Hart at 13:12.
The Tips pushed their lead to 3-1 when Dewar buried a penalty shot at 19:26 and Everett took the 3-1 lead in to the first intermission.
“It was a really individual effort by Dewey to get that, to beat his man to the net and outmuscle him,” Williams said. “He was right at the end of his shift and it’s a huge two-goal lead going into the second. I thought our penalty kill was good today and I thought our power play scored a good goal there and had some other really good looks. It’s something we continue to need to work on.”
Dewar had a goal and two assists while Davis, Bajkov, Fonteyne and Sutter all had a goal and a helper.
Hart finished with 28 saves and Hughes had 29 stops.
Everett finished with a 36-31 shot advantage and scored on one of its three power-play chances. Seattle was 0-for-2 on the man advantage.
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Silvertips 7, Thunderbirds 3
Everett 3 2 2 — 7
Seattle 1 0 2 — 3
1st Period—1, Everett, Bajkov 3 (Dewar, Davis), 12:10 (PP). 2, Everett, Davis 1 (Sutter, Vala), 12:48. 3, Seattle, Volcan 2 (Lee), 13:12. 4, Everett, Dewar 1 19:26 (SH PS). Penalties—Bajkov Evt (holding opp. stick), 2:56; MacLean Sea (hooking), 2:56; Wedman Sea (slashing), 11:53; Fairbrother Evt (holding), 19:00.
2nd Period—5, Everett, Richards 1 (Fonteyne, Bajkov), 3:45. 6, Everett, O’Rourke 1 (Gerth), 13:08. Penalties—Dewar Evt (roughing), 4:19; Philp Sea (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 4:19; Sharp Evt (elbowing), 7:44; Wedman Sea (roughing), 8:33; Wedman Sea (delay of game), 19:11.
3rd Period—7, Seattle, Hamaliuk 1 (Wedman, Bargar), 1:36. 8, Seattle, Wedman 1 (MacLean), 6:41. 9, Everett, Sutter 1 (Pilon, Dewar), 15:37. 10, Everett, Fonteyne 3 17:15 (EN). Penalties—No Penalties.
Shots on Goal—Everett 18-11-7-36. Seattle 14-8-9-31.
Power Play Opportunities—Everett 1 / 3; Seattle 0 / 2.
Goalies—Everett, Hart (31 shots-28 saves). Seattle, Hughes (35 shots-29 saves).