SPOKANE — Silvertips captain Connor Dewar was the last Everett player to leave the bench. He stared at the ice as the final buzzer and cheers rang out throughout the Spokane Arena.
It’s something he likes to do after losses. It’s fuel for next time out.
“It was a little bit of frustration,” Dewar said after the Silvertips’ 3-1 loss to the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday, now down 3-0 in a best-of-seven second-round series. “I was disappointed with myself on the last play. I made the turnover that allowed them to score that last goal.
“I like to always soak in the moment. Growing up, I never expected to play in front of thousands of fans. I like to enjoy and watch them celebrate as motivation for next game.”
There’s even more frustration when taking into consideration the Silvertips’ feelings after a crucial Game 3 loss. They didn’t feel as if they were outclassed or outworked, much like after a 3-1 Game 2 loss, an improvement after being blitzed 6-3 in the opening game of the series.
A favorable bounce here or a call there, and the Silvertips are back in it. But the scoreboard reflects only in absolutes, and thus, the Silvertips are on the verge of elimination.
“I thought we played a good hockey game,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “There’s nothing to sit here and hang our heads about. … We’ve held (Spokane) pretty good (after Game 1). We just have to score some. It’s not that we haven’t had chances. I thought we played a really good hockey game. I’m upset and emotional because I’m upset for (the players). They’ve worked hard. But the one thing is we won’t quit. Our plan is to come in Friday and we’re that caged animal with our backs against the wall and play hard.”
The decisive goal in Game 3 was one of some controversy.
Adam Beckman netted the game-winning goal at the 2:21 mark in the third period as Dustin Wolf couldn’t slide over to his right and stop his one-timer after he skated and capitalized on the sitting rebound.
The Silvertips appeared to argue on their bench that Luc Smith interfered with Wolf near the left post, but it wasn’t overturned. That play is not reviewable, according to WHL rules.
“(We were arguing) after the hit there, they fell deliberately on Wolfie,” Williams said. “I didn’t disagree he was shoved by (Martin Fasko-Rudas) there, but the second attempt was a motion that he fell deliberately on him instead of trying to avoid it. At all costs, you want to stay away from the other team’s goalie as much as you can. But at the end of the day, it’s not reviewable, so that was that.”
The Chiefs went up 1-0 in the first period after Ethan McIndoe redirected a shot from Filip Kral at the right point past Wolf at 7:42 on the power play, the Chiefs third goal in four tries up to that point in the series with the man advantage.
Robbie Holmes erased Spokane’s lead quickly, walking into the slot and snapping a shot past Chiefs goaltender Bailey Brkin for the equalizer just 1:57 later in the period.
“What a rip,” Williams said. “He’s been great. He’s been great all series and great all playoffs. … He brings it hard every shift and to see him cradle that puck and turn his hands around snap that (was huge) after they scored to go up 1-0 and the crowd was loud. But I give our bench a lot of credit. They didn’t panic.”
The Silvertips showed composure in the second especially, with their penalty kill thwarting two power-play chances to Spokane in the period to keep it tied.
The Chiefs were clicking at an astronomical 75-percent rate with the man advantage before those aforementioned kills. Spokane is now a more-than-respectable 3-for-6 on the power play for the series.
Everett wasn’t able to pull ahead, despite outshooting the Chiefs 13-6 in the second frame
Everett generated some promising chances while scrambling in the third, most notably a look from Jackson Berezowski in front of Spokane’s net after an entry feed from Max Patterson that Brkin turned away, but couldn’t pot the game-tying goal.
The Silvertips pulled Wolf for the extra skater at 1 minute, 16 seconds remaining, but the Chiefs forced a turnover after a draw in Spokane’s zone at 38 seconds and Jaret Anderson-Dolan sealed the game with an empty-net goal with 28 seconds remaining.
Riley Sutter suited up for the first time since Dec. 29 after missing a good chunk of the season with a significant lower-body injury. He started the game on Everett’s second line with Zack Andrusiak and Holmes, but eventually moved up to center a line with Dewar and Bryce Kindopp in the second.
The Silvertips will try and avoid elimination during Game 4 with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop on Friday night at the Spokane Arena.