The Everett Silvertips brought a nine-game point streak into the weekend — and extended that streak with wins Friday and Saturday — but they couldn’t overcome a depleted lineup in the team’s third game in three nights, losing at Spokane 5-3 Sunday night.
The Silvertips started the weekend with a 5-0 rout at Tri-City on Friday before trouncing Seattle, 5-2, in Kent on Saturday.
The latter win came with some unfortunate circumstances.
Rookie import center Michal Gut was a last-second scratch before Saturday’s tilt with the Thunderbirds and 2001-born forward Hunter Campbell was injured during a fight with Seattle’s Cade McNelly. Neither made the trip to Spokane and their future availability was uncertain.
What’s more, Justyn Gurney was suspended for two games for a hit to the head on McNelly in the second period Saturday. Gurney served the first game of the suspension on Sunday and will miss the Silvertips’ next game with Seattle on Feb. 14.
Everett Silvertips forward Justyn Gurney has been given a two-game supsension for this hit last night on Seattle Thunderbirds Cade McNelly. Should note there was no call on the play originally. pic.twitter.com/TFN5CJNX4A
— Ben Dooley (@BenTDooley) February 9, 2020
With forward Dawson Butt still serving a 12-game suspension, and Tyson Phare and Gianni Fairbrother out with injuries, Everett suited just 16 of 18 skaters and just nine forwards on Sunday.
Silvertips overage defenseman Jake Christiansen scored two goals to lead the Silvertips in the loss to Spokane. Overage forward Leif Mattson potted a pair of goals for the Chiefs.
A win over Spokane on Sunday would have clinched a playoff spot for Everett, but the key race for the Silvertips is with the Portland Winterhawks for the U.S. Division title. Portland is nine points ahead, but Everett possesses a game in hand and the Silvertips and Winterhawks play four more times in the regular season.
Chasing down Portland is a tall task, undoubtedly, but not inconceivable for the Silvertips, who have won eight of their past 10 games in regulation.
With the win over Everett on Sunday, Spokane crept within seven points of Everett for second in the division standings, although the Silvertips have two games in hand on the Chiefs.
The Silvertips are also four points up on Kamloops in the conference standings with three games in hand, something that would be a factor in determining home ice during the conference finals.
Christiansen enters record book
Jake Christiansen entered the weekend with 12 goals this season. He ended the weekend with 17 and his name atop the Silvertips’ franchise record books.
After his second-period goal against Spokane on Sunday, Christiansen tied Landon Oslanski’s franchise record for single-season goals by a Silvertips defenseman, originally set in 2012-2013.
It took Oslanski a full 72-game season to reach 17 goals. It took Christiansen just 26.
Christiansen, who has six goals and 10 points over his past five games, started the season with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, but was reassigned after he couldn’t lock down an NHL entry-level contract.
Saturday’s drama escalates
Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams made some pointed remarks about the Seattle Thunderbirds after a chippy game on Saturday that included an open-ice hit on Seattle’s Cade McNelly late in the second period.
“The game was close up to that point,”Williams said after the Silvertips’ 5-2 win. “I don’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat. They were too worried about everyone else on the ice. We just told our guys to keep playing a full 60-minute game, keep making their ‘D’ turn, keep playing simple hockey (with) a we’re-on-the road mindset, stay out of the BS after the whistles and that’s what we did.”
On Sunday, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge, who was Everett’s director of player personnel until taking the Thunderbirds general manager job in 2018, shot back.
“Their comments post-game got me riled up,” La Forge told Andy Eide of 710 ESPN Seattle. “We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”
A rather timid rivalry game turned ugly after Gurney’s hit on McNelly. Gurney was not assessed a penalty on the ice, but was suspended two games by the Western Hockey League after the Thunderbirds submitted video of the play to the league offices, Eide said.
Oh, baby 😱😍@PuutioKasper couldn't have scored a nicer goal for his first as a Silvertip 🔥🔥
— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) February 9, 2020
1. Jake Christiansen — Christiansen scored five goals over the weekend and chipped in three assists.
2. Cole Fonstad — Fonstad turned in a five-point weekend with a goal and four assists.
3. Gage Goncalves — Goncalves scored a goal and added four assists.
Everett plays host to Seattle on Feb. 14 at Angel of the Winds Arena, the eighth of 10 meetings between the two teams this season.