EVERETT — When Kevin Davis’ shot went in to end an epic shootout the Everett Silvertips piled off the bench, but they didn’t go to Davis. Instead, they made a beeline to mob a goaltender who just turned in a performance for the ages.
Austin Lotz stopped 14 of the 15 shootout attempts he faced as the Tips escaped with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday night at Xfinity Arena.
“That was probably the longest one I’ve ever been in,” Lotz said. “It was fun, though.”
The game had the makings of a disaster for Everett. After building a 2-0 lead in the first period the Tips spent the rest of the game on their heels. Still, the Tips all but had the game won before the Blazers tied it up with just one second remaining in regulation. Then in overtime Kamloops put the puck in the net, only to have the goal disallowed after a lengthy video review.
Then it was a goaltending battle of the highest order in the shootout as Lotz and Kamloops netminder Connor Ingram matched one another save for save — the first 24 shooters were all denied. Michael Fora looked like he may have won it for Kamloops in the 13th round, only for Carter Cochrane to answer for Everett to keep the shootout alive.
Then in the 15th round Lotz denied Patrik Maier, bringing Davis to the ice. Davis beat Ingram with a shot to the glove side to end the game. Coincidentally, both Cochrane and Davis hail from Kamloops.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Lotz said. “I’m still caught off-guard, I can’t believe how many shots there actually were both ways. You’ve got to give credit to Ingram, too, he played great. We just got lucky enough to score one more than them.
“They tried to sneak a couple five-hole that I actually thought went in, but somehow I got a leg on it.”
Carson Stadnyk and Ivan Nikolishin scored the goals and Nikita Scherbak had two nice assists for Everett (14-2-2-1), which won in a shootout for the second straight night. Lotz made 30 saves during the game.
Deven Sideroff scored the last-second goal that forced overtime for Kamloops, and Mike Winther also scored for the Blazers (9-10-2-2). Ingram made 21 saves during the game.
“I think we deserved the win,” Lotz said. “They played a great game as well. We kind of felt we got stabbed in the foot with that last goal. They deserved the goal, and after the disallowed one it felt like we snuck away. But we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
Everett played a strong first period, and the Tips parlayed that into a 2-0 lead.
Everett opened the scoring on the power play 4:45 into the game. Scherbak drew the defense to free up Ben Betker for a shot from the point, and Betker’s hard wrister was tipped past Ingram by Stadnyk to make it 1-0.
Then the Tips made it 2-0 with 1:25 remaining in the period. Scherbak made a hard one-touch pass from the corner out front to Nikolishin cutting across the slot. Nikolishin made a quick move before slipping the puck past Ingram to make it 2-0.
Kamloops stepped up its play in the second period, but the Blazers couldn’t find the net as Lotz made a big save on Winther on a short-handed two-on-one. Everett had chances on the power play late in the period, but couldn’t capitalize, and it remained 2-0 going into the third.
Then it was all Kamloops in the third as the Blazers outshot the Tips 17-3 and controlled the puck the entire period. Kamloops got within on on the power play with 8:06 remaining as Winther banged home a rebound after Lotz couldn’t hold Sideroff’s shot from the high slot.
Then with time winding down and Ingram pulled for an extra attacker, an Everett icing gave Kamloops a faceoff in the Everett zone with 22.3 seconds remaining. Everett called a timeout, but Kamloops won the ensuing faceoff. After a couple of attempts were blocked, the puck wound up on Josh Connolly’s stick with space at the right point. He fired a shot that wound up going off traffic at the far post and into the net with exactly one second remaining. Sideroff was credited for the goal.
In overtime the Blazers thought they won it when Cole Ully put the puck past Lotz. However, the goal was immediately waived off for being kicked in, and after a lengthy video review the original call stood, setting up the dramatic finale.
Silvertips 3, Blazers 2 (SO)
Kamloops 0 0 2 0 — 2
Everett 2 0 0 0 — 2
Silvertips won shootout 2-1
First Period—1, Everett, Stadnyk 10 (Betker, Scherbak), 4:45 (pp). 2, Everett, Nikolishin 7 (Scherbak, Stadnyk), 18:35. Penalties—Connolly, Kamloops (tripping), 3:39; Benjafield, Kamloops (fighting), 14:31; Wharrie, Everett (fighting), 14:31; Betker, Everett (tripping), 16:00.
Second Period—no goals. Penalties—Kamloops bench (too many men, served by Loewen), 7:47; Harrison, Kamloops (high sticking-high sticking), 16:30; Fora, Kamloops (cross checking), 19:09.
Third Period—3, Kamloops, Winther 5 (Sideroff, Needham), 11:54 (pp). 4, Kamloops, Sideroff 11 (Connolly, Fora), 19:59. Penalties—Kamloops bench (too many men, served by Kryski), 3:40; Clouston, Kamloops (fighting), 6:20; Aasman, Everett (fighting), 6:20; Betker, Everett (holding), 7:07; Pfeifer, Everett (high sticking), 10:53.
Overtime—no goals. Penalties—none.
Shootout—Everett 2 (Scherbak NG, Nikolishin NG, Millar NG, Bajkov NG, Stadnyk NG, MacDonald NG, Bauml NG, Low NG, Aasman NG, Fonteyne NG, Juulsen NG, Betker NG, Cochrane G, Wegleitner NG, Davis G); Kamloops 1 (Shynkaruk NG, Ully NG, Winther NG, Kryski NG, Sideroff NG, Shirley NG, Needham NG, Revel NG, McVeigh NG, Connolly NG, Benjafield NG, Harrison NG, Fora G, Loewen NG, Maier NG).
Shots on goal—Kamloops 4-10-17-1—32. Everett 11-6-3-3—23. Power-play opportunities—Kamloops 1 of 3. Everett 1 of 6.
Goalies—Kamloops, Ingram 2-4-0-2 (23 shots, 21 saves). Everett, Lotz 10-2-1-1 (32 shots, 30 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.