KENT — The Seattle Thunderbirds’ new home wasn’t much kinder to the Everett Silvertips than their old one Saturday night.
However, there may be hope for the Tips.
In the first ever game at ShoWare Center, Everett suffered the same fate in Kent it so often suffered in Seattle, losing to the T-birds 4-3.
But unlike KeyArena, where the Tips found every possible way to lose a game in the third period the past five seasons, Everett nearly pulled off a stunning late comeback, scoring three times in the final five minutes to set up a harrowing finish for the sellout crowd of 6,125.
“It was a really fun atmosphere to play in,” said Everett’s Shane Harper, who scored twice and nearly squeezed in the tying shot as the clock expired. “I never got to play in a first game in an arena before and it was nice to be the team playing in it. They got an early jump on us and it was hard for us to battle back. We almost did, but it was a little too late.
“We never had real good luck in KeyArena. Hopefully we’ll have better luck here.”
Brenden Silvester scored the first goal in ShoWare Center history, Jeremy Boyer, Gregg Scott and Sena Acolatse also scored, and Jacob DeSerres made 28 saves in goal for Seattle (16-20-1-2).
“It was unreal,” Silvester said of the first game at ShoWare Center. “It’s a great facility. Just being out here is a whole lot better than Key, which looks a little empty. Being in this rink it was packed and it was loud.”
There was one black mark on the opening night as two full water bottles were thrown onto the ice during play after Seattle had an apparent goal disallowed. Despite the flying debris, play was allowed to continue.
Dale Hunt scored Everett’s other goal and Thomas Heemskerk made 32 saves for the Tips (17-16-5-0).
Everett star winger Kyle Beach didn’t return following a fight he instigated late in the second period. Beach suffered a broken nose and is not expected to miss time.
Everett was looking for its luck to turn against Seattle. The Tips were 4-19-0-1 with three ties in five-plus seasons against the T-birds at KeyArena.
But for 55 minutes it looked like those demons had followed the Tips down I-5. Everett gave up far too many power plays — midway through the third period Seattle had nine power plays to just two for Everett — and critical mistakes helped the T-birds take a 4-0 lead into the final five minutes.
However, the Tips staged a dramatic comeback, with Hunt snapping the shutout on a disputed five-on-three goal and Harper scoring twice with Heemskerk pulled to set up a frantic final 35.3 seconds. Harper had another chance with just seconds remaining, but he didn’t get all of his shot from a tight angle and the puck floated just over the crossbar.
“I thought it was the hardest we’ve played since the break,” Everett coach John Becanic said. “We had complete control of the game until the officials took over.
“I’m not disappointed with our effort and our energy tonight,” Becanic added. “Obviously discipline is an issue, and I don’t know how much of it was us being undisciplined and how much of it was officiating.”
ShoWare Center wasn’t the only thing making its debut Saturday as Heemskerk, acquired earlier in the week in a trade with Kootenay, made his first appearance for the Tips. Heemskerk looked confident and composed in making 32 saves, but there was only so much he could do with the Tips facing that many power plays.
Silvester scored the first goal in arena history 7:23 into the second period, putting a wraparound attempt under Heemskerk after an extended period of Seattle pressure.
Boyer scored on the power play two minutes later, then Scott and Acolatse tallied early in the third to seemingly end it. But that didn’t end up being the case.
Slap shots: With Heemskerk ready to go, the Tips reassigned goaltender Kraymer Barnstable to Nipawin of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Barnstable did not see the ice in the four games in which he served as a backup. Kent Simpson is expected to be back from the U-17 World Hockey Challenge for Wednesday’s home game against Tri-City, which will leave the Tips with a decision to make regarding which two goalies to keep on the roster. … Seattle was missing three key players to international commitments. Captain and defensive lynchpin Thomas Hickey was playing for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, center Jim O’Brien was playing for the U.S. at the same tournament, and goaltender Calvin Pickard was at the U-17s.
Thunderbirds 4, Silvertips 3
@5. NHL box :First Period—No goals. Penalties—Ellington, Everett (holding), 1:06; Dillon, Seattle (elbowing), 3:38; Mistelbacher, Everett (roughing), 7:16; LeBlanc, Seattle (roughing), 7:16; Maxwell, Everett (hooking), 8:07; Mistelbacher, Everett (fighting), 9:32; LeBlanc, Seattle (fighting), 9:32; Beach, Everett (slashing), 11:37; Haber, Seattle (cross checking), 15:43; Burt, Everett (interference), 18:28.
Second Period—1, Seattle, Silvester 5 (Acolatse, Lockhart), 7:23. 2, Seattle, Boyer 8 (Scott, Rai), 9:33 (pp). Penalties—White, Everett (10-minute misconduct), 7:23; Van de Velde, Everett (hooking), 9:26; Beach, Everett (instigator-fighting-10-minute misconduct), 13:14; Haber, Seattle (fighting), 13:14; Tochkin, Everett (hooking), 16:23.
Third Period—3, Seattle, Scott 11 (Rai, Boyer), 4:26 (pp). 4, Seattle, Acolatse 3 (LeBlanc, Lockhart), 5:19. 5, Everett, Hunt 3 (Alexander, Harper), 15:08 (pp). 6, Everett, Harper 15 (Maxwell, Tochkin), 17:56 (pp). 7, Everett, Harper 16 (Bartek), 19:24. Penalties—Maxwell, Everett (roughing), 1:25; Burt, Everett (roughing), 4:18; Wells, Seattle (high sticking), 11:17; Dillon, Seattle (elbowing), 13:27; Chaffin, Seattle (holding), 14:38; Bartek, Everett (hooking), 15:37; Dillon, Seattle (tripping), 17:10.
Shots on goal—Everett 12-8-11—31. Seattle 8-17-11—36. Power-play opportunities—Everett 2 of 6. Seattle 2 of 10.
Goalies—Everett, Heemskerk 7-7-2-2 (36 shots, 32 saves). Seattle, DeSerres 6-11-0-0 (31 shots, 28 saves).
Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog