EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips are facing a new foe for the first time this postseason — elimination.
The Swift Current Broncos knocked off the Tips 1-0 in Game 4 of the WHL championship series Wednesday before 5,081 fans at Angel of the Winds Arena.
The victory was the third straight for Swift Current in the series as the Broncos took a 3-1 series lead. Swift Current can clinch its first WHL title since 1993 with a victory in Game 5 Friday at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“I don’t know if it’s any more motivation,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “I’m proud of our effort and our approach each and every day, but we’re not going to go down without a fight out there. We’re going to compete, we’re going to battle and we’re going to do what we can to try to extend the series.”
Broncos goaltender Stuart Skinner recorded the 32-save shutout for his league-best fifth blanking of the postseason.
Colby Sissons scored the game’s only goal with a power-play goal in the second period. The Swift Current defenseman carried the puck into the neutral zone and fired a wrister over Everett goaltender Carter Hart’s shoulder for the 1-0 lead at 14:35 in the second.
“It was a little bit of a broken play in the neutral zone,” Sissons said. “It was just a 3-on-2 and I had some space in the middle. I just tried to get the puck on net and luckily it went in.”
Patrick Bajkov, Everett’s top regular-season point producer, played Wednesday despite being a game-time decision. Bajkov missed most of the third period and the entire overtime session in Tuesday’s 3-2 Tips loss in Game 3.
Though Everett outshot Swift Current 32-19, the Tips struggled to create good scoring chances.
The Tips had a good look at 14:15 in the third when a Garrett Pilon shot bounced into the slot and led to a pileup in front of Skinner, who covered the puck.
“I think we’re doing all the right things, trying to funnel pucks through and get guys (to the net),” Pilon said. “I think that is the main key to the series for both teams, is getting second and third chances.”
For most of the game the Broncos were successful in keeping Everett’s shots to the outside and allowing Skinner to see the puck.
“They did a good job blocking shots,” Williams said. “They’ve been good all series on it and we have to continue to try to get second and third chances on Skinner.”
Everett came up empty on four power-play chances in the second period including a 5-on-3 situation. Twice Swift Current’s Beck Malenstyn secured shorthanded breakaways, but Hart stopped both shots.
Everett finished the game 0-for-5 on the power play and has not scored on 13 straight man advantages after scoring on its first chance in the series back in Game 1 at Swift Current.
“Our best penalty killer is our goaltender and Stuart has been really good,” Swift Current coach Manny Viveiros said. “We want to be aggressive on loose pucks, but the kids are digging in. We don’t want to be taking too many penalties. At this time of year you wind up running into a short bench after that and kids get tired after a while.”
Sissons’ game-winner came after Everett’s fifth and final power play expired. It was the second straight night the Broncos scored the game’s first goal and Swift Current took the 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
However, unlike Tuesday’s Game 3, the Tips were unable to draw even.
“I was really proud of our guys,” Williams said. “We responded (to Game 3) the way we wanted to. We just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Everett killed three penalties, including a 5-on-3 during a scoreless first period. The Tips thought they had taken a 1-0 lead at 17:34, but the officials immediately determined Riley Sutter batted the puck into the net and waved the goal off.
“We just gotta reset,” Everett defenseman Kevin Davis said. “I really liked how we played tonight and we just have to have a good response game.”
Game 5 begins at 7:35 p.m. Friday. Win or lose it will be the final time the Tips skate at Angel of the Winds Arena this season. If necessary, Games 6 and 7 are scheduled for Sunday and Monday in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
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