EVERETT – No matter what the circumstances, it seems that everything is going the Everett Silvertips’ way.
Zach Hamill scored 9 minutes, 47 seconds into overtime, and the Everett Silvertips defeated the Portland Winter Hawks 3-2 Wednesday in front of 5,431 at the Everett Events Center in Game 4 of their Western Hockey League playoff series.
Everett took a commanding 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is Friday in Portland.
“We’re just going to take it one game at a time,” said Hamill, downplaying the 3-1 lead. “Portland’s a really good hockey team. I’m 100-percent sure they’re not going to quite. They’re going to come out harder every single game.”
Everett played as well as it has in the series in the first two periods, taking a 2-0 lead and creating several other good scoring chances. But the Tips were unable to hold onto the lead as third-period goals by Michael Funk and Brendan Mikkelson tied it up and forced overtime.
But in overtime, the fates that favored Everett’s defense in Game 2 and 3 victories found the Tips’ offense this time around. Cody Thoring kept the puck in the zone along the boards and shot from the point. The shot was knocked down in front by a Portland defender and Brady Calla tipped the puck toward Hamill, who swept it past Portland goaltender Blake Grenier for the game winner, his second straight game-winning goal.
“I was just coming off the forecheck and I saw Thoring shoot the puck at the net and I kind of just went for the rebound,” Hamill said. “The puck popped out and I just put it in.”
Karel Hromas and Kyle Annesley scored power-play goals in the second period for Everett and Michael Wall made 38 saves in goal.
Everett is 6-0 in overtime in playoff franchise history.
“Playoff overtime hockey is so much drama,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. But it’s good to get the win, obviously.”
Blake Grenier made 32 saves for Portland.
“We didn’t play well the first two periods,” Portland coach Mike Willamson said. “We played tight because of the importance of the situation. But we played well in the third and showed a lot of character coming back. Quite often what happens is a bounce. Anything can happen in overtime and that’s what happened.”
An action-packed first period failed to produce any goals, despite golden opportunities for both teams. Wall stoned Dan DaSilva, who was all alone after Everett defenseman Shaun Heshka was forced to leave the ice after losing his helmet. And Everett defenseman Ivan Baranka was all over the ice creating chances, including a shot that smacked off the post.
Everett then took control of the game in the second. First, just 25 seconds in, Hromas redirected a nice cross-crease feed from Torrie Wheat into the top of the net, making it 1-0 with his first of the playoffs. Then at 8:30 into the period, Annesley was able to poke a loose puck in the crease into the net after Ryan Blatchford fed it into the crease, making it 2-0 with his first of the playoffs.
As has been Everett’s habit in the series when leading in the third period, the Tips sat back and attempted to defend the lead. However, unlike in Games 2 and 3, this time it cost them.
First at 3:16, Dubinsky made a nice move to elude Wheat in the corner and although his shot was blocked, Funk came flying in and sniped a shot into the corner, cutting the lead to 2-1 with his first of the playoffs. Then at 12:10, Mikkelson one-timed a shot from the center point through traffic and into the net, tying it at 2-2 with his first of the series.
It seemed that Everett had regained the lead at 13:55 when, on the power play, Wheat appeared to put the puck into the top of the net. Referee Andy Thiessen originally awarded the goal, but the Portland players protested vociferously, pointing at the puck laying on the outside of the net. Thiessen met with his linesmen and waived off the goal, and the game went into overtime.
Slap shots: Everett’s revolving-door lineup received more action Wednesday. On the way out: defenseman Mitch Love, who suffered an injury in a knee-to-knee collision with Dubinsky in Game 3, and left wing Tyler Dietrich, who rested his ankle after playing for the first time in two months in Game 3. Back in: left wing Michael Wuchterl and defenseman Taylor Ellington, who each missed the first three games of the series with concussions. Also, defenseman Randy King was scratched in favor of forward Matt Sawa.
Silvertips 3, Winter Hawks 2
First Period-No goals. Second Period-1, Everett, Hromas 1 (Wheat, Leavitt), 0:25 (pp). 2, Everett, Annesley 1 (Blatchford, Hamill), 8:30 (pp) Third Period-3, Portland, Funk 1 (Dubinsky, McLeod), 3:16. 4, Portland, Mikkelson 1 (DaSilva, Coburn), 12:10 (pp) Overtime-5, Everett, Hamill 2 (Thoring, Calla), 9:47. Shots on goal-Portland 9-9-18-4-40. Everett 11-7-11-6-35. Power-play opportunities-Portland 1 of 4. Everett 2 of 6. Goalies-Portland, Grenier 1-3 (35 shots, 32 saves). Everett, Wall 3-1 (40 shots, 38 saves).