The Silvertips won Game 4, 4-1, to avoid elimination. The game story is attached here.
Here are the takeaways
In typical fashion the Silvertips forward line combinations varied throughout the game. But even when they were consistent, there was a different look than usual.
Everett’s starting line on Friday was Max Patterson centering Martin Fasko-Rudas and Robbie Holmes. The second was Riley Sutter centering Connor Dewar and either Gage Goncalves or Jackson Berezowski. The third was a completely new look: rookie Reece Vitelli centering Bryce Kindopp and Zack Andrusiak.
Andrusiak has typically lined up with Holmes and Patterson, and Kindopp has been Dewar’s linemate for most of the season. But in the interest of a deeper, more balanced lineup, Williams mixed them up.
“We needed to generate something,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said, “so we spread it out there.”
On the other bench, Spokane has been able to roll out four consistent forward lines for most of the series. Without Riley Sutter for Games 1 and 2 — or for the second half of the season, for that matter, the Silvertips haven’t had that luxury.
But it proved fruitful in Game 4, and it could carry into the rest of the series.
The Spokane Chiefs and their league-leading power play started the series 2-for-3 on the man advantage, but have turned in a 2-for-6 clip since it’s pivoted to Spokane.
The 4-for-9, 44.4 percent clip, is still outstanding for Spokane. But Everett has done a better job with its penalty kill in recent games.
“You have to give them shots, but you have to select what shots you have to give them,” Williams said. “They got some opportunities, but ones we thought Wolfie could handle, and he did well for us.”
One particular kill was impressive for Everett. Sutter was nabbed for interference on the goaltender at 10:35 in the period, with the score 2-1, Everett. Spokane’s lethal power play could hardly muster a shot, and the Silvertips even created a couple shorthanded opportunities of their own.
Goncalves flashes upside
Sometimes, especially this time of year, it’s forgotten that at its core, the Western Hockey League is a developmental league.
But then a young player executes a nice play and it’s a reminder of that reality.
Rookie Goncalves, playing with 19-year-olds Dewar and Sutter, slid a pass right to Dewar’s wheelhouse for the Silvertips’ third goal of the season. It was his fourth assist and sixth point of the postseason.
“He’s getting better and better,” Williams said. “That’s what you want to see with your younger players. You want to see progression and them getting better each night. At the beginning of the year, he was pretty quiet and that’s what you’d expect. He was trying to find his niche and it’s that feeling out process of what type of player he is.
“But as of late, in the second half, he’s played with a lot of confidence and is making plays. But more than anything, he hunts pucks hard. He finishes checks hard. He’s one of our little guys, but he’s not scared. He’s got bruises on him. When you don’t have bruises, you’re probably not in the right areas.”
The reward of playing up with Dewar and Sutter, two of Everett’s best players, was a nice honor for Goncalves. Williams said he was happy with how he lived up to the challenge.
Cleaning it up
Some errant passes outside of the Silvertips’ zone led to dangerous chances for Spokane, especially as the game went on Friday. In particular, two passes out of the corner were picked off quickly and led to one-on-one chances with Wolf, who was able to save both.
It’s something they could stand to readjust before Game 5.
“There was a couple of times we panicked with the puck with the lead and we weren’t managing (pucks),” Williams said. “Sometimes when you get those leads you want to play on your heals. You want to play on your toes and do what’s been working.
“But I thought our guys did a really good job. They were blocking pucks, doing all those intangibles you need this time of year to win in the playoffs. Kudos to them.”
General comments from Williams: “I thought we did a really good job of managing pucks behind their ‘D’ and skating tonight.”
Williams, continued: “A lot of those guys did a really good job with their leadership: The Dewar’s, the Kindopp’s, the Andrusiak’s, the Holmes’: they led the way with their energy and physicality and did a really good job.”“I thought our guys really responded and we were skating,” Williams said. “We stuck to the gameplan and it fell this way for us tonight. We can enjoy it today.
Williams on Dewar: “I thought (Dewey) really elevated his game tonight.”