EVERETT — Sunk in an impossible hole to climb out of, the Everett Silvertips gave their heart and soul just to delay what seemed to be inevitable.
But unfortunately for the Tips, against a Spokane Chiefs team on its game it still wasn’t enough.
Showing the type of heart and determination that was missing for stretches of the series, Everett took Spokane to the limit Friday night. But the Tips’ season still came to an end with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Chiefs in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.
Mitch Wahl’s redirect goal 12 minutes, 21 seconds into overtime completed a series sweep for the Chiefs.
But Everett turned in its best performance of the series Friday, playing with passion and scoring twice in the last eight minutes of regulation to overcome a 2-0 deficit and take it to extra time.
“I’m proud of them,” Everett coach John Becanic said of his players. “Down 2-0 it’s easy to quit. We lost to a real good hockey team, there’s no shame losing to that team. There’s only shame if we feel we didn’t put our best effort forward, and I think the boys the last two games played with every ounce of energy they had. We just came up a little bit short.”
Judd Blackwater and Levko Koper also scored for Spokane, and Dustin Tokarski continued his stellar play in net for the Chiefs, making 33 saves.
Graham Potuer and Jonathan Harty scored for Everett, which staged a rousing comeback to force overtime.
Shayne Barrie, making a surprise start in goal for Everett in place of Leland Irving, turned in a valiant performance with 32 saves.
“When you’re down 3-0, you’re just looking for something,” Becanic explained about the goaltending change. “We don’t have a lot of other bodies who can come in and make a difference, and Shayne was outstanding tonight. I would have loved to have gotten a win for him just for how hard he played today.”
The first-round exit is the earliest in Everett franchise history. It also was the fifth straight time the Tips exited the playoffs with four consecutive defeats. Everett finished the season with a nine-game losing streak total.
It looked as if Everett’s season a rebound with 8:54 remaining in regulation to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead.
But the Tips got what they needed with a quick reply, Potuer one-timing a shot from the point into the top corner 74 seconds later to give Everett new life.
Then with 2:37 remaining, Spokane’s Drayson Bowman was called for a double-minor for high sticking, giving the Tips a power play the rest of the way. With time winding down and Barrie pulled for an extra attacker, Shane Harper received the puck in the slot, waited for an opening, then fed Harty cutting to the middle. Harty slammed the puck home with 54.7 seconds remaining to tie the game and force overtime.
Everett then had a golden opportunity when, 15 seconds into overtime, Koper took a boarding penalty, giving the Tips a five-on-three. However, Everett was unable to convert, with Kyle Beach lifting a rebound against the post just as the five-on-four expired.
“It looked like our best players played so much at the end of the third period and the overtime you could see how much energy we had exhausted,” Becanic said. “We were on the ropes after the power play, we just didn’t have any energy left.”
Spokane began to spend large amounts of time in the Everett zone, and at the end of one of those stretches Jared Spurgeon threw the puck out front from the side boards, where Wahl just got a stick to it to gently guide it past Barrie and win the game.
Everett came out of the gate inspired, hitting everything that moved and forcing Tokarski to make several saves through traffic.
However, the Chiefs gradually worked themselves into the game, and although Barrie made several big saves to keep it scoreless, he couldn’t keep it out at 18:56. Blackwater got the puck behind the Everett net and had time to set up before wrapping around and forcing the puck under Barrie, giving the Chiefs a 1-0 lead.
Everett had a pair of golden opportunities to tie the game early in the second period. Zach Hamill beat his man, but batted a rolling puck just over the crossbar. Then Beach, skating in one-on-four, lasered a shot off the post.
However, the Tips were fortunate to escape the period without surrendering another goal. Spokane’s Chris Bruton lifted a shot off the crossbar from a scrum in front, and the Chiefs applied all kinds of pressure late without finding the net.
Slap shots: Everett made one lineup change as defenseman Chris de la Lande returned, with forward Eric English making way. That gave Everett seven defensemen and just 11 forwards. … Spokane kept faith with the same 20 players the Chiefs used in the first three games. … Former Silvertips Brennan Sonne and Ondrej Fiala were in attendance and were featured during the first intermission.
Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog