EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips turned in a more complete performance in Game 2 on Sunday at Angel of the Winds Arena, but it wasn’t enough to upend the Spokane Chiefs, who took a 2-0 lead in the Western Hockey League playoff series with a 3-1 victory.
Here are the three takeaways:
When Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams was asked whether he thought his special teams where they needed to be in the series during the postgame media session, he turned and said, “Well, what do you think?”
His answer was an acknowledgement of his displeasure.
The numbers aren’t great thus far. The Chiefs have double the amount of power-play goals despite having half the chances, with a 2-for-3 success rate on the man advantage compared to Everett’s 1-for-6 clip.
If you dissect it further, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Silvertips may as well have been credited a power-play goal on Wyatte Wylie’s tally on Sunday, as his puck reached the back of the net right as the penalty expired.
The Silvertips’ penalty kill appeared to right the ship during Spokane’s first power play Sunday, forcing the Chiefs out to the perimeter and away from dangerous areas.
The second was a bit of bad puck luck, with a clear along the boards finding Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s stick. Anderson-Dolan skated into the high slot and picked up the primary assist on Eli Zummack’s game-winning goal. It’s not as unlucky as Spokane’s lone power-play goal on Saturday, in which a blocked shot fell right to Riley Woods’ stick and the overage forward buried it. But there’s a tinge of unfortunate circumstances there.
Still, it’s something the Silvertips need to clean up if they want to ward off elimination.
“Special teams has to be better,” Williams said.
Rookie defenseman sees increased minutes
Throughout the playoffs, Ronan Seeley’s playing time has been reserved for a miscellaneous shift here and there, typically later in the game during blowouts.
He was right in the mix Sunday, playing significant minutes from the opening puck drop to the final buzzer.
There’s a specific reason for that, Williams said.
“I didn’t like our ‘D’ last night,” Williams said. “We gave up six goals. I said to (assistant coach) Louis (Mass), ‘Hey, let’s get (Seeley) in there. And he did a really good job.
“I think sometimes you get going and there’s too much of a comfort level. There can’t be any complacency right now. Ronan came in and gave our ‘D’ a push and I thought our ‘D’ did a much better job. I don’t know if it was because Ronan was playing and giving them that extra push or because Ronan was in the lineup playing well. He was doing a good job with breakouts, escaping guys and finding guys up the ice.”
Seeley didn’t look outmatched against a transition-happy Spokane team, with terrific skaters up and down the lineup. The rookie blue-liner, whose strong suit is flinging passes and joining the rush, is more adept at the style of game Spokane prefers, as opposed to Tri-City’s more heavy, physical style in the opening round.
Williams hinted there will be more of Seeley as the series unfurls.
“I think his game fits this type of series a little bit better,” Williams said. “He can skate and make plays. I thought he played really well. I can’t wait to see him play like that next game.”
Veteran, rookie elicit praise
Robbie Holmes was struck with a puck in the face in the second period, leaving the ice and heading straight for the dressing room for examination.
He returned to the game after the second intermission with a full bubble cage, to protect his face from further damage, and did not relent with his patented heavy style of play in the final period.
Williams singled him out as far as who impressed him in Game 2.
“That’s your typical playoff hockey player,” Williams said. “You win a lot of series with a guy like him.
“People don’t realize how hard that is. When I came in there to check in on him (in the second intermission), he said he was fine, which is the typical Robbie Holmes answer. He came back and he played hard, he played heavy, he went to the net front. He didn’t deter from playing his game.”
2002-born rookie Jackson Berezowski also received unprompted praise from Williams. He was an integral part of the Silvertips’ lone goal on Sunday, skating in front of Chiefs’ goaltender Bailey Brkin and blocking his vision as Wylie’s slap shot sailed past him.
“He’s one of our best players in the two games,” Williams said. “I gave him credit in (the dressing room) again. He plays the game honest and he plays hard.
“We call that area (in front of the net) ‘The Nosebreak Alley.’ It’s tough to get there this time of year. Sticks, elbows, hands get up. But Jackson gets there, and that was a big reason why we scored that goal is because of his screen.”