EVERETT — There was no shortage of entertainment for 3,107 fans who witnessed the Everett Silvertips’ comeback effort against the defending-WHL-champion Kelowna Rockets Wednesday night at Xfinity Arena.
The Tips ultimately fell 6-5 in overtime to the Western Conference and B.C. Division-leading Rockets, though Everett did manage to erase a four-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime in the last of its four regular-season meetings with the Rockets this year.
While the players and coaching staff were able to take solace in the fact they ultimately earned a point in the standings, Tips head coach Kevin Constantine said that type of game was not the recipe for his team’s success.
“That’s not even close to the formula we want,” he said. “I don’t base that on the score or the comeback or getting behind. I base it on (the fact) we have a certain way of playing. We have to outwork teams, be disciplined and be detailed, and we were none of that.”
The U.S. Division-leading Silvertips (35-20-3-2, 75 points) fell to Kelowna for the only time this season. That stat comes with a caveat, however, as the Rockets were missing three players to the World Junior Championships in the first two meetings between the teams.
Everett appeared finished when it allowed four second-period goals and entered the third trailing 5-1. Constantine pulled starting goaltender Carter Hart for backup Mario Petit, who was impressive in stopping all seven shots he faced in the third as the offense rallied in front of him.
Patrick Bajkov cut the deficit to 5-2 with his tap-in off an assist from Yan Khomenko at 6:51 in the third, and linemate Matt Fonteyne poked in a rebound from a scrum in front of the net to make it 5-3 at 9:18.
Kelowna responded by calling its timeout.
Dario Winkler scored the fourth goal on a rebound on the power play at 11:17, and Connor Dewar scored the short-handed equalizer when he outraced Kelowna defenseman Lucas Johansen to the puck and managed to knock it past Rockets goaltender Michael Herringer at 13:58.
“He kind of knocked me over and took his goalie out,” Dewar said. “I just kind of swung around and knocked it in the net.
“It takes a lot of character to come back, but I wish we would have played a full 60 (minutes).”
That was the common sentiment among the organization afterward, particularly after Justin Kirkland scored the game-winner with a wrister past Petit at 1:24 in overtime.
“The first 40 were just brutal on our part,” Tips forward Carson Stadnyk said. “We weren’t playing our game at all. We were too soft. We weren’t winning any battles. They were winning everything and we came out in the third and it was very nice to get the comeback obviously, and get the one point, but that’s no way to play every game.”
The Tips appeared to take a 2-1 lead at 8:17 in the second period. But Bajkov’s would-be goal was waved off as Cole MacDonald was whistled for goaltender interference.
Calvin Thurkauf converted on the other end with five seconds remaining on the power play and gave the Rockets the 2-1 lead at 10:12.
“That was a bit of a game-changing moment,” Constantine said. “At that point we scored that goal, it’s 2-1 us. They go down and score on the penalty and it’s 2-1 them. They got a lot of momentum from that.”
Things snowballed from there.
Less than two minutes later, Tyson Baillie scored his second goal of the night to make it 3-1 when Cal Foote’s slap shot form the right circle bounded right to Baillie all alone to the left side crease.
Thurkauf then took a pass at the blueline and outraced the defense for his second goal of the period to push the lead to 4-1 at 15:40, and Tomas Soustal made it 5-1 when he took a puck from behind the net and stuck it past Hart’s right pad at 18:35.
That was all for the Rockets until Kirkland’s goal in the extra session.
Baillie scored Kelowna’s first goal when he took advantage of an Everett turnover in the Silvertips zone and converted a slap shot past Hart’s left shoulder for a 1-0 lead at 7:36 in the opening period.
Devon Skoleski secured a pass at the blueline and skated in on the breakaway only to be taken down by a Kelowna’s Lucas Johansen. Skoleski was awarded a penalty shot and beat Herringer to tie the game 1-1 at 18:14 in the first.
The Silvertips return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday with a home game against Kamloops.
Rockets 6, Silvertips 5
Kelowna 1 4 0 1—6
Everett 1 0 4 0—5
1st Period—1, Kelowna, Baillie 35 7:36. 2, Everett, Skoleski 7 18:14 (PS). Penalties—Stadel Kel (major-fighting), 1:57; served by Gerth Evt (major-fighting), 1:57; Johansen Kel (hooking), 18:14.
2nd Period—3, Kelowna, Thurkauf 13 10:12 (PP). 4, Kelowna, Baillie 36 (Foote, Southam), 11:27. 5, Kelowna, Thurkauf 14 (Gatenby), 15:40. 6, Kelowna, Soustal 15 (Kirkland, Linaker), 18:35. Penalties—Chartier Kel (hooking), 0:54; Christiansen Evt (tripping), 4:58; MacDonald Evt (inter. on goaltender), 8:17; Stephens Kel (interference), 16:07.
3rd Period—7, Everett, Bajkov 15 (Khomenko), 6:51. 8, Everett, Fonteyne 13 (Bajkov), 9:18. 9, Everett, Winkler 5 (Laurencelle, Khomenko), 11:17 (PP). 10, Everett, Dewar 10 (Martin), 13:58 (SH). Penalties—Pfeifer Evt (holding), 3:05; Foote Kel (cross checking), 10:02; Davis Evt (hooking), 12:05.
OT Period—11, Kelowna, Kirkland 25 (Thurkauf, Gatenby), 1:24. Penalties—No Penalties
Shots on Goal—Kelowna 11-14-7-2-34. Everett 9-4-8-0-21.
Power Play Opportunities—Kelowna 1 / 4; Everett 1 / 3.
Goalies—Kelowna, Herringer 22-9-1-0 (21 shots-16 saves). Everett, Hart 33-19-1-2 (25 shots-20 saves); Petit 2-1-2-0 (9 shots-8 saves).
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