Silvertips fall short in quest for No. 1 seed

SPOKANE — All the Everett Silvertips needed was a point.

The Spokane Chiefs chose not cooperate.

Everett fell short in its bid to win the U.S. Division championship and earn the Western Conference’s top seed to the playoffs, falling 3-2 to Spokane on Sunday night in the final game of the WHL’s regular season.

Everett came into the game tied for first with the Tri-City Americans. Tri-City owned the tiebreaker, meaning the Tips needed to at least get to overtime in order to capture first place.

But Spokane’s Mitch Holmberg snapped a 2-2 tie midway through the third period, and Everett was unable to threaten the rest of the way.

Everett finishes in second place in the U.S. Division and takes the conference’s No. 3 seed into the playoffs. The Tips will face defending league champion Kelowna in the first round, with the first two games on Friday and Saturday in Everett.

Tyler Johnson and Jared Spurgeon also scored for Spokane (45-22-3-2), which was already locked into the No. 4 seed and was playing without leading goal scorer Kyle Beach because of injury. James Reid made 18 saves in goal for the Chiefs.

Kellan Tochkin and Tyler Maxwell scored for Everett (46-21-3-2), which twice came from a goal down to tie it. However, the Tips were unable to claw back a third time.

Thomas Heemskerk made 20 saves in goal for the Tips, who finished with the second-best record in the conference. However, Vancouver earned the automatic No. 2 seed in the first round by being the B.C. Division champion, even though Everett finished with a better record.

The game went into the third period tied 2-2 and the Tips tried to hold on for their point. However, at 9 minutes, 47 seconds, Holmberg took advantage of a Radko Gudas turnover and beat Heemskerk one-on-one, giving the Chiefs the advantage.

Everett controlled play during the first 10 minutes, forcing several good saves out of Reid.

Then Spokane received its first power play and cashed in. Heemskerk made a pair of good saves, but couldn’t make the final one on a scramble in front, Johnson putting it home to make it 1-0 12:20 into the game.

The Chiefs controlled the rest of the period, with Heemskerk making some important saves, including one that required a video review to confirm as no goal.

Everett tied it 6:08 into the second period. Just after a Tips power play expired, Chris Langkow’s wraparound attempt went to Tochkin out front, and Tochkin scored to make it 1-1.

Spokane regained the lead 2:04 later with another power-play goal, Spurgeon scoring after Johnson’s shot rebounded off the back boards.

But the Tips tied it again at 16:55. Radko Gudas flipped a clearance in the air that got behind the Spokane defense, and Maxwell put away the breakaway with a move to his backhand, making it 2-2.

Chiefs 3, Silvertips 2

Everett020 — 2

Spokane111 — 3

First Period—1, Spokane, Johnson 36 (Brassart, Ulmer), 12:20 (pp). Penalties—Cowen, Spokane (boarding), 2:51; Langkow, Everett (holding), 11:01.

Second Period—2, Everett, Tochkin 28 (Langkow, Harper), 6:08. 3, Spokane, Spurgeon 8 (Johnson, Wahl), 8:12 (pp). 4, Everett, Maxwell 33 (Gudas, Froese), 16:55. Penalties—Theriau, Everett (high sticking), 2:45; Kichton, Spokane (hooking), 4:02; Rissanen, Everett (checking from behind), 7:35.

Third Period—5, Spokane, Holmberg 4, 9:47. Penalties—Gudas, Everett (high sticking), 0:15; Bardaro, Spokane (hooking), 3:54; Froese, Everett (roughing), 15:11.

Shots on goal—Everett 9-5-6—20. Spokane 10-3-10—23. Power-play opportunities—Everett 0 of 3. Spokane 2 of 5.

Goalies—Everett, Heemskerk 24-12-2-2 (23 shots, 20 saves). Spokane, Reid 38-16-3-2 (20 shots, 18 saves).

A—9,204.

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