KENT — Nolan Volcan scored two goals to propel Seattle over Everett, 2-1, in the rivals’ final regular season matchup.
Here are the three takeaways:
The final 15 games of the regular season is when Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams prefers to start to set his lines in stone.
Sure, there’s always some tinkering. But the variation of Everett’s lines late in the season, largely due to injuries, has struggled to find consistency with its forward combinations.
“It’s going to be a lot of manuevering,” Williams said. “At this time of year, you’re hoping to get in some rhythm with lines, and we can’t get that right now. It’s tough for our guys.”
The Silvertips added 19-year-old forward Max Patterson to the injury report after he sustained an upper-body injury in the Silvertips’ 2-0 win over Tri-City on Friday. It leaves Everett without its top two centers down the stretch, with Riley Sutter still recovering from a lower-body injury suffered on Dec. 29 against Prince George.
Connor Dewar, whose natural position is left wing, has played the majority of the season up the middle out of necissity. With Patterson recently on the shelf, winger Bryce Kindopp has played plenty of shifts at center lately.
“I thought Bryce did a really good job there and I thought Dewey did a really good job there, as he’s done all season,” Wiliams said. “They’re not playing their right positions, but they’re giving their best efforts.”
Tuesday’s upcoming matchup against Portland will leave Everett even more shorthanded, as Martin Fasko-Rudas is en route to Slovakia for nationwide exams tied to high school graduation. He’ll return for Everett’s home-and-home against Victoria over the weekend to close out the regular season.
A ‘playoff atmosphere’
Saturday was the final regular season matchup between Everett and Seattle this year, but with the standings the way they are entering the final week of the season, it likely won’t be Everett’s final visit to the Showare Center.
The Silvertips are deadlocked with Vancouver at 96 points with three games remaining in the season, but Everett holds the tiebreaker with a greater goal differential (+93 for Everett compared to +62 for Vancouver). Goal differential is the third tiebreaker for playoff spots, but the Silvertips and Giants are tied in wins (46) and head-to-head records (both teams are 2-2-0 against each other).
If Everett does end up edging Vancouver, it will likely match up with its archrival in the first round of the playoffs. Seattle is seven points ahead of Kamloops for the final Western Conference wild card spot.
The Silvertips have won a lot of tight games lately — three of the Silvertips’ last five games have been decided by a goal and their 3-1 win in Spokane on March 5 required three third period goals to obtain the win. Games like Everett’s narrow loss to Seattle on Saturday was valuable experience, despite missing out on the two points.
“When you play two heavy teams like Tri-City and Seattle, it wears on you,” Williams said. “Like I told (the players), I was proud of our effort. But nothing you could do there. That’s what you have to expect when you get down to the postseason. It comes down to a turnover here, a miscommunication there and not burying your chances. It’s that tight of a game.”
Dewar concurred with Williams’ statement, adding it’s valuable for Everett’s core of young players.
“I think it’s good for the young guys to get a feel for playoff atmoshere and playoff intensity,” Dewar said. “It’s a lot more detailed and you want to manage the puck. I think the young guys are getting good experience with that.”
Making yourself at Holmes
Robbie Holmes hasn’t popped in terms of gaudy point totals since being acquired from Regina at the trade deadline.
But he’s provided a physical presence and a willingness to get greasy in the corners and in high-danger areas. He was rewarded with a heads up goal on Saturday, knocking down a puck from the air down to his stick when crashing the net and tapping in the Silvertips’ lone goal.
“I thought he got better as the game went on,” Williams said. “I thought he came out a little slow and didn’t manage pucks well. I talked to him after the first and I thought his game started to get to the harder areas. (He) did a really good job on the walls and (he) did a good job netfront.”
Holmes owns nine points (three goals, six assists) in 23 games with Everett after posting 16 points in 24 games with Regina, a team in rebuilding mode.
Horton’s three stars
1. Nolan Volcan: Took over when he needed to, potting both of Seattle’s goals in the narrow win.
2. Roddy Ross: Wasn’t overly tested, but his 46 saves kept Seattle in the game.
3. Robbie Holmes: Scored Everett’s lone goal on a heads-up play.