SPOKANE — It’s been done before.
Those are words the Everett Silvertips are keeping in mind as they face elimination from the Western Hockey League playoffs Friday night at the Spokane Arena. They are down 3-0 to the Spokane Chiefs in their Western Conference semifinal.
Even entering Wednesday’s game, Silvertips captain Connor Dewar said the players were drawing confidence from the fact that series comebacks happen in sports.
“Through all sports, there’s a lot of comebacks throughout playoffs,” Dewar said Tuesday. “We’ve kind of looked back at some sports history and teams coming back, and also drawing experience from the past year. We’ve had weekends where we’ve been swept back-to-back and had a good response.
“That’s kind of where we’re drawing our confidence from right now.”
Just two teams have overcome a 3-0 deficit in WHL playoff history. The first to accomplish that feat was Spokane in 1996 in the first round. The second was Kelowna, which ousted Seattle after falling behind 3-0 in 2013.
In the professional ranks, there’s been some notable examples of teams rallying from 3-0 holes. The 2004 Boston Red Sox famously erased a 3-0 deficit to knock off the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series en route to the franchise’s first World Series title in 76 years. In the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers upended the Boston Bruins in seven games after falling behind 3-0 in the 2010 conference semifinals, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied from a 3-0 deficit to knock off San Jose in the first round in 2014, the same year Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup.
This isn’t the first time the Silvertips were counted out, Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said.
“We’ve had a good team all year. I’ve said that since the start of the season,” Williams said. “We started (the regular season) 0-2 and everyone wrote us off, and this group kept proving everyone wrong. It’s an opportunity to keep proving people wrong. We’re not a team that’s going to sit here and roll over. Our job is focus on Friday night and get a win and try and get a win after that.”
Raw shot totals suggest the Silvertips were a couple bounces or a couple juicy rebounds away from this being a series. Everett has out-shot the Chiefs in each of the three games and 93-60 overall. That was a good recipe for success for the Silvertips during the regular season, with Everett compiling a 27-8-1-4 record when out-shooting its opponents.
“I give a lot of credit to our forwards and defensemen,” Williams said. “We’ve held this team to about 20 shots per game. That’s a hard thing to do against a club like that. It’s just about burying some of (our) chances. That comes and goes at times. When it’s going in, it feels like we’re shooting at a soccer net, and when it’s not, it feels like it’s a mini-hockey net.
“We had some really good looks tonight. Maybe if we get a couple of those the gates open a little bit, but it’s kind of been a little bit of a battle all year finishing those opportunities.”
The Silvertips better hope the floodgates open soon. If not, their season will end with nothing but wonder about what could have been.