Tips have Giant problem

  • By Nick Patterson / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, April 25, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

EVERETT – The fat lady hasn’t begun singing just yet. But she’s beginning to clear her throat.

Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

Giants defender Cody Franson (right) lays a vicious hit on the Silvertips’ Brady Calla during Tuesday night’s Game 3 at the Everett Events Center. Vancouver won the game 5-0, leaving Everett one game from elimination.

The Everett Silvertips find their season hanging tenuously from a thread after a demoralizing 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday night.

Everett suffered across-the-board breakdowns in matching the worst defeat in franchise history – the only other five-goal defeat was a 6-1 loss at Spokane early in Everett’s inaugural season.

The Tips now face a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven Western Conference championship series.

“This is an 11, man,” was how Everett captain Torrie Wheat rated the frustration of Tuesday’s loss.

“It seemed like they were putting pucks in the net sliding in under a pad, or off a guy,” Wheat added. “They had a couple nice plays too, but it seemed everything we threw at the net bounced away from the net and everything they threw at the net bounced into the net.”

Everett must now win four straight to keep its season alive. Based on Tuesday’s performances by both teams, the likelihood of that appears microscopic.

“What can you do?” Everett center Peter Mueller asked. “You go hard a couple shifts and it always seems they have the lucky bounces. It always seems like they put the puck in when they can. It’s frustrating watching three games go down the drain, knowing that one more is our season. We have to bear down deep, it’s gut check time.”

Gilbert Brule scored two goals for Vancouver, and Dustin Slade made 32 saves for his second straight shutout and fifth in 13 playoff games. Spencer Machacek, Jason Reese and Tim Kraus also scored for the Giants, who look every bit a worthy Western Conference champion.

“They’re a great team,” Wheat said. “If they beat us – hopefully we can make some sort of comeback – but if they get through us I’d put a lot of money on them winning the league for sure, probably the Memorial Cup.”

Matt Esposito made 21 saves in goal for Everett.

The Tips also lost another player to a concussion as defenseman Jonathan Harty was knocked out in the first period by a hit from Brule, who was also responsible for the concussion that knocked left wing Ondrej Fiala out of Game 1.

“I’ve spoken about the issue quite extensively now,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said when asked about the hit. “You guys can reach your own conclusions.”

The game snowballed out of control beginning at 1 minute, 25 seconds of the second period, when Machacek scored a soft short-handed goal to give the Giants a two-goal lead. Everett played well in the first period, despite falling behind 1-0. But after Machacek’s goal the Tips began taking penalties – five in a seven-minute span – and the Giants made Everett pay with a pair of power-play markers.

Esposito was thrust into the starting role when No. 1 goaltender Leland Irving went down with a groin pull the day before the series began. Tuesday night the Tips could have used Irving.

“I thought the first couple games we had pretty good goaltending,” Constantine said. “Tonight some went in that probably should have been stopped. I thought in terms of territorial play and chances we were as good tonight, or even a little better, than we had been. Slade was very good in net. We’ve got to find a way to score and we’ve got to get a little better goaltending than that.”

Once again Vancouver dominated the special teams. The Giants were 2-for-6 on the power play and are 5-for-18 in the series. In contrast, Everett went 0-for-6, is scoreless in 18 power-play chances in the series, and is rarely even able to get set up in the Giants zone.

The Giants have actually been more dangerous on Everett’s power play than the Tips have been. Machacek’s short-handed goal was Vancouver’s second of the series, with both goals being almost identical. This time Machacek skated the puck into the Everett zone on the right, fired from the circle and beat Esposito between his legs.

“I thought the first period was really an even period,” Vancouver coach Don Hay said. “The key goal for us was obviously the second one, the short-handed goal. We took advantage of our opportunities and I thought we did a good job checking and not giving them a lot of really good scoring opportunities.”

Everett has little hope of salvaging the series – only one team in WHL history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. But the Tips aren’t going to give up.

“I wouldn’t go to war with anyone else than these guys,” Mueller said. “I’m going to do everything I can, put my life on the line for these guys.”

At Everett Events Center



First Period-1, Vancouver, Brule 9 (Parker, Lucic), 5:05. Penalties-Festerling, Vancouver (interference), 2:21; Parker, Vancouver (hold stick), 16:13.

Second Period-2, Vancouver, Machacek 5 (Franson, Albers), 1:25 (sh). 3, Vancouver, Brule 10 (Machacek), 6:49 (pp). 4, Vancouver, Reese 4 (Albers, Franson), 13:18 (pp). Penalties-Brule, Vancouver (high sticking), 0:11; Smyke, Everett (elbowing), 6:22; Kress, Everett (hooking), 7:29; Mueller, Everett (elbowing), 9:23; Blum, Vancouver (hooking), 10:53; Lammers, Everett (slashing), 12:26; Thoring, Everett (holding), 12:53, Bartley, Vancouver (diving), 12:53; Hunt Vancouver (fighting), 13:19; Sonne, Everett (fighting), 13:19; Beach, Everett (slashing), 13:28; Repik, Vancouver (high sticking), 16:18.

Third Period-5, Vancouver, Kraus 3 (Repik), 4:45. Penalties-Hromas, Everett (holding), 6:29; Lucuc, Vancouver (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:55; Beach, Everett (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:55; Lucic, Vancouver (fighting), 14:01; Beach, Everett (fighting), 14:01; Scharff, Vancouver (delay of game), 19:40.

Shots on goal-Vancouver 5-13-8-26. Everett 9-10-13-32. Power-play opportunities-Vancouver 2 of 6. Everett 0 of 6.

Goalies-Vancouver, Slade 11-2 (32 shots, 32 saves). Everett, Esposito 0-3 (26 shots, 21 saves).


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