EVERETT — Unhappy with his team’s effort Saturday in a 5-4 overtime loss to Winnipeg, Everett Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams challenged his players to turn things around in less than 24 hours.
After Sunday, consider him a happy coach.
The Silvertips knocked off the Spokane Chiefs, 2-0, in Western Hockey League action at Angel of the Winds Arena, snapping Spokane’s three-game winning streak and earning two points against a U.S. Division rival.
Losses haven’t compounded much in the Williams era. Since he took the reins as the Silvertips’ head coach in 2017-2018, Everett is 36-14-1 following a loss.
“I thought it was a good response by our group,” Williams said. “When we talked last night, we weren’t overly excited about last night’s effort. … Our group has always been a resilient team when we face a little bit of adversity like that.”
Wyatte Wylie put the Silvertips up 1-0 with a power-play goal at the 6:08 mark in the second period. The overage defenseman and Snohomish County native snapped a shot past Chiefs goaltender Campbell Arnold, who was screened effectively by Everett forwards Martin Fasko-Rudas and Bryce Kindopp. The goal came just 10 seconds into the man-advantage opportunity. Gage Goncalves and Cole Fonstad were credited with assists.
That’s all scoring the Silvertips needed.
The Chiefs pressed hard in the third period, out-shooting the Silvertips 12-2 over the final 20 minutes, but Everett goaltender Dustin Wolf made a number of key saves to keep his shutout intact. Wolf finished with 22 saves to earn his third shutout of the season and the 13th of his WHL career, passing Michael Wall for third on the Silvertips’ all-time career shutout list.
Untimely penalties from the Silvertips didn’t make their star goaltender’s life any easier down the stretch, though.
Michal Gut was sent to the box for holding 15:49 into the third period. Just seconds after Everett killed off that penalty, 17-year-old defenseman Ronan Seeley was whistled for delay of game after he attempted to clear the puck from his own defensive zone and unintentionally flicked it out of play.
Everett’s penalty kill staved off the second power-play chance with aplomb, and even added an insurance goal while short-handed. Gianni Fairbrother flung the puck into Spokane’s empty net from his own defensive zone with Arnold on the bench for an extra skater with 36.1 seconds remaining.
“We never panicked,” Williams said of the third-period onslaught. “They stayed cool, they stayed calm, they stayed collected and they got their heads up and cleared the puck 200 feet. That’s not easy, especially with that type of team (Spokane) out there. My hat is off to that group there.”
Williams added that overage forward Max Patterson was key in the faceoff circle down the stretch. Patterson won two of four draws while Everett was short-handed late in the third period.
The win, while reassuring, didn’t come without some caveats.
On Sunday, Spokane was playing the final leg of a three-games-in-three-nights stretch, all on the road. The Chiefs were also without their star defenseman and New Jersey Devils first-round pick in 2018, Ty Smith, who was out of the lineup for an undisclosed reason.
Additionally, Spokane tilted the ice in the third period as Everett fell into a lull late, a habit Williams hopes to correct.
“I’d like us to finish off the third a little better,” Williams said. “I thought we weren’t playing to win in the third. (Spokane) is a team, as you’ve seen the last two games, that has tied the game up in under a minute, and has done that against us before.”
Even with the passiveness in the final period, the Silvertips blocked a number of Spokane shots to keep the puck from getting to dangerous areas, which made for a happy goaltender.
“We dominated the game up until the third period and then we kind of sat back a bit,” Wolf said. “But our guys did a great job of getting in front of pucks and this was our best game in terms of blocking shots that hopefully we can build upon.”
The Silvertips host the Saskatoon Blades at 7:35 p.m. Friday in the only meeting between the two teams this season. Friday will be former Silvertips player and assistant coach Mitch Love’s first game at Angel of the Winds Arena since taking the Saskatoon head-coaching job before the 2018-2019 season.
Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for the Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @JoshHortonEDH