KENNEWICK — Kevin Davis was the first name called by the Everett Silvertips in the 2012 WHL bantam draft.
The taciturn, smooth-skating defenseman was the initial piece of first-year general manager Garry Davidson’s vision to return the Tips to the glory of the early days of the franchise.
On Monday, Davis’s point shot through traffic beat Tri-City goaltender Patrick Dea at 5:58 in overtime to give the Tips a 6-5 victory in Game 6 and propel the Tips to their first WHL finals since their inaugural season in 2003-04.
“A lot of emotions — I’m so proud of this group,” Davis said. “To come back from (a) 5-2 (deficit) shows our character. I’m so proud of the guys. Let’s enjoy it and get ready for Swift (Current).”
Davis’ second goal of the game capped a furious third-period and overtime comeback before 3,030 fans as Everett erased a three-goal deficit in less than five minutes. It gave the Tips their second conference title in franchise history. They take on the Eastern Conference champion Swift Current Broncos in the finals beginning Friday on the road.
Fellow 2012 bantam draftee Patrick Bajkov scored twice. Matt Fonteyne, the third remaining overager of that class, tallied three assists in the win.
Davis also added an assist and Garrett Pilon and Connor Dewar each had a goal and an assist in the victory.
“A real gutsy effort by our group — we could have packed it in and gone home for Game 7,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “I thought our guys did a good job of staying with it. We had some opportunities there early in the game that we didn’t capitalize on, but our power play came through for us tonight. It hasn’t been very strong in this series, but like I told the guys it’s about the timing of power-play goals. It’s when you score them and obviously Kevin got us a big one in overtime.”
Tri-City led 3-2 after two periods, and third-period goals from Kyle Olson and Jordan Topping gave them a seemingly insurmountable 5-2 advantage at 8:52.
But Everett refused to go quietly.
Connor Dewar started the comeback when he stashed the puck inside the right post at 9:52 during a four-on-four situation, and Davis’s wrister from the slot at 13:53 cut the deficit to 5-4.
Pilon tallied the equalizer on the next shift at 14:29 when he forced a turnover, walked in and scored to make it 5-5 and force overtime.
Everett controlled the pace in overtime as it outshot Tri-City 5-1. The fifth one was the one that mattered as Davis’s shot beat Dea over the shoulder.
“We needed a little fire to get sparked under us and we were able to get that and we came out and were able to capitalize,” Bajkov said.
Michael Rasmussen gave Tri-City its first lead of the night at 3-2 via power play when he banged home a loose puck in the crease at 6:30 in the second period.
Everett took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, but the Americans needed just 1:19 to tie the game in the second. Juuso Valimaki controlled the puck in the slot and fed Olson for a one-timer at the left circle to make it 2-2.
The Silvertips scored first in all six games of this series. On Monday, Sean Richards carried the puck into the Tri-City zone, left a drop pass to a trailing Fonteyne, who found Bajkov streaking toward the right post for the tap-in and a 1-0 lead at 8:54 in the opening period.
Morgan Geekie tied it with a quick wrister from the right circle on the power play at 11:25. It was his first goal since Game 1 of the series.
Everett got that goal back at 18:23 via power play when Bajkov took a pass in the slot, dangled and beat Dea for his second goal of the night and a 2-1 lead.
Hart allowed four or more goals for the fourth time in the six-game series. Tri-City scored three times on its first nine shots and tallied its fourth on just its 16th shot.
Everett finished with a 42-23 shot advantage.
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