EVERETT – To have any chance of winning their second-round Western Hockey League playoff series against the Kootenay Ice, the Everett Silvertips needed everything to go right.
Instead, everything went wrong, bringing the Silvertips’ season to a close.
Everett saw its season come to an end as the Silvertips fell 4-3 in overtime Tuesday night before a crowd of 5,571 at the Everett Events Center.
“That was a tough one,” Everett right wing Alex Leavitt said.
Nigel Dawes scored at the 18 minutes, 24 second mark of overtime to give Kootenay, the WHL’s regular season champion, a 4-0 sweep against the Silvertips.
For the second straight night Everett was less than two minutes away from victory. But with 1:53 remaining, Dale Mahovsky pushed a seemingly harmless shot on net from the right boards that Everett goaltender Michael Wall reached his glove for but missed, forcing overtime.
Each team had chances to score in overtime as both hit the inside of the post. But the Ice finally prevailed when Martin Sagat tracked down a loose puck in the right corner and immediately fired a pass out front, where Dawes one-timed it in at the far post to end the series.
“Everything went right 90 percent of the time, but that other 10 percent happened to fall in key moments,” Leavitt said. “It was little things like at the end of power plays and penalty kills when the line combinations aren’t what they’re supposed to be, and they capitalized. The little key situations was where we didn’t play Silvertip hockey and that’s why the series went 4-0 in their favor.”
Adam Cracknell and Ryan Russell also scored and Jeff Glass made 36 saves in goal for Kootenay, which will play the winner of the Seattle-Kelowna series for the Western Conference title.
“The worst thing that could have happened was we scored those two quick goals without really having to work for them,” Kootenay coach Cory Clouston said. “I think we got a little bit complacent and thought it would be easy. It sure wasn’t. Everett showed a lot of character.”
Karel Hromas, Kyle Annesley and Leavitt scored and Wall made 44 saves in net for Everett, which fought back despite falling behind 2-0 a little over 3 minutes into the contest.
“As soon as we went down 2-0 I had a flashback to Game 5 of the Swift Current-Medicine Hat series last year where we lost the game 8-0 and were eliminated,” Leavitt said. “But it just shows the difference in the character of the team I’m playing with this year compared to the team I was playing with last year. We got down 2-0 and could absolutely have packed it in and gotten slaughtered. But the boys showed a lot of heart.”
It looked like Kootenay was going to put the game – and the series – away early, scoring on its first two shots of the game. Cracknell picked the puck off Tyler Dietrich in the right circle and fired a shot into the far corner to give the Ice the lead just 55 seconds in, and Russell sniped a shot from the high slot in off the crossbar to make it 2-0 at 3:37.
But Everett refused to quit and the Tips tied it before the first period was over. First, Dietrich turned the tables by stealing the puck in the Kootenay zone from Mike Busto and dropping a pass to Hromas, who spun to the front of the net and put a forehand shot into the top of the net, cutting the lead to one at 12:14. Then at 17:58, Curtis Billsten made a move around Busto and although he was unable to get a shot off, the puck sat in the crease where Annesley pulled it out and roofed his shot to tie it.
Everett then took the lead with 8:02 remaining in regulation. Sagat had just smacked an Everett post on a three-on-two break, and the rebound sent Leavitt streaking the other way down the left. Leavitt cut to the center behind a charging Billsten, then slid a shot through traffic that got through Glass, giving Everett a 3-2 lead.
But just like Game 3, the Tips were unable to hold that lead at the end.
Slap shots: Everett played without regular season leading scorer Torrie Wheat. Wheat was a late injury scratch. Both of Everett’s injured overagers, Dietrich and captain Mitch Love, tried to gut it out and play Tuesday. Dietrich, who had played just once during the playoffs since fracturing his ankle in early February, was able to play. Love, who missed six of the previous seven games with a bruised knee, tried to warm up, but was unable to go. … Everett had as many shots in the first period Tuesday (19) as it had in the entire 73:35 of Monday’s overtime game.
Ice 4, Silvertips 3 (OT)
First Period-1, Kootenay, Cracknell 5, 0:55. 2, Kootenay, Russell 3 (Sagat, Taylor), 3:37. 3, Everett, Hromas 2 (Dietrich), 12:14. 4, Everett, Annesley 2 (Billsten, Thoring), 17:58. Second Period-No goals. Third Period-5, Everett, Leavitt 6, 11:58. 6, Kootenay, Mahovsky 7 (Cole, Cherewyk), 18:07. Overtime-7, Kootenay, Dawes 4 (Sagat, Taylor), 18:24. Shots on goal-Kootenay 13-9-15-11-48. Everett 19-5-9-6-39. Power-play opportunities-Kootenay 0 of 7. Everett 0 of 4. Goalies-Kootenay, Glass 8-2 (39 shots, 36 saves). Everett, Wall 4-7 (48 shots, 44 saves).