Tips rest several key players, lose

  • By Nick Patterson / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, March 14, 2007 9:00pm
  • Sports

EVERETT – The Everett Silvertips have been all about firsts this season. First in the U.S. Division, first in the WHL, first in the Canadian Hockey League poll, and so on.

But Wednesday night the Tips found themselves a last to go along with all those firsts. It took 70 games, but Everett finally became the last team in the league to suffer a losing streak.

A short-handed Everett team fell 3-1 to the Prince George Cougars, giving the Tips back-to-back losses for the first time this season.

Everett had a chance to pull off the rare feat of going an entire season without a losing streak – every other team in the league has lost at least three in a row at some point. But while several key players rested, including star center Peter Mueller, the Tips came up four days short.

“It all comes down to pride,” Everett right wing Dan Gendur said. “We want to win as many hockey games as we can, whether they mean something or not. Tonight wasn’t that good a display out there, but we just need to regroup and do better against Tri-City (on Friday).”

Wednesday’s loss was hardly a surprise for the Tips. Everett, which already has clinched up the league’s best regular season record, held six regulars out of the lineup and used four call-ups. All four call-ups saw substantial ice time.

Meanwhile, Prince George, which also has nothing to play for because its locked into third in the B.C. Division, rested leading scorer Devin Setoguchi and top defenseman Ty Wishart. Even the normally boisterous Everett Events Center crowd was subdued as Wednesday’s game had the feel of an exhibition.

The most significant news for the Tips didn’t even occur in Everett. Spokane lost 5-3 at Chilliwack, meaning the Tips will face the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs.

And although Everett is now in the midst of its first losing streak, it has little significance for a Tips team that’s just trying to get as healthy as possible for the playoffs.

“That wasn’t important at all,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said about losing back-to-back games. “If it was important, we would have dressed a different lineup.”

Dana Tyrell and Greg Gardner each had a goal and an assist to lead Prince George (33-29-3-5). Jared Walker also scored and Scott Bowles made 15 saves in goal for the Cougars.

“I thought we played hard,” Prince George coach Drew Schoneck said. “Our goaltender made a couple huge saves there early in the first to keep us in it. We got that first goal and I really thought we got our confidence going. But they were missing some key guys tonight.”

Kyle Beach scored the lone goal for Everett (53-14-1-2), which was coming off a 5-3 loss at Tri-City on Saturday. Leland Irving made several sparkling saves among his 20 to keep the Tips within sight in a game where they had a significant disadvantage in experience.

“It’s hard to judge how we played because you have a different set of criteria,” Constantine said. “You’re trying to stay healthy and trying to keep the habits right.

“There’s still parts that are bothersome,” Constantine added. “The turnover to start the second period (leading to Prince George’s second goal) is the exact thing we’re trying not to do, so we’re not in the mood to be very tolerant of things that are clearly wrong. Our power play wasn’t very good at all. So there’s parts of it you don’t like, but we came through it without any injuries, which is good news for our team right now.”

Everett’s young players acquitted themselves well, but they got into penalty trouble early in the first period, and the Cougars took advantage with a five-on-three power-play goal at 7:55, Walker forcing in a rebound.

Everett had its chances when the teams were at full strength, but Bowles stoned Brandon Campos and Beach on free opportunities, and Lukas Vartovnik stickhandled himself wide when open in front.

Prince George then doubled its lead on the first shift of the second period. A mere 23 seconds in, Tyrell picked up a loose puck in the corner and whipped a pass out front to Gardner, who snapped a shot into the corner to make it 2-0.

Everett gave itself life with 8:53 remaining when a strange bounce behind the Prince George net allowed Beach to poke the puck home with Bowles out of position.

But the Cougars put the game away with 1:20 left when Tyrell scored into an empty net.

Slap shots: Everett’s missing players included four who were given the night off: Mueller, right wing Moises Gutierrez, and defensemen Dane Crowley and Jonathan Harty. Left wing Brennan Sonne (spleen) and defenseman Taylor Ellington (neck) were out injured. … Everett had a pair of roster additions who were in the lineup in 1990-born left wing Tyler Eskesen and 1991-born right wing Kellan Tochkin. Eskesen will be with the team through the weekend. Tochkin returned to his midget team, which has playoff games this weekend. … While several Tips were given the night off, one was back as Jesse Smyke returned after missing four games with a concussion.

Cougars 3, Silvertips 1

Prince George 111-3


First Period-1, Prince George, Walker 27 (Durand, Hunt), 7:55 (pp). Penalties-Hohmann, Prince George (interference), 4:51; Alexander, Everett (hooking), 6:24; Hlookoff, Everett (hooking), 6:42; Burt, Everett (interference), 10:09; Rapac, Prince George (high sticking), 14:28.

Second Period-2, Prince George, Gardner 16 (Tyrell, Hunter), 0:23. Penalties-Patterson, Prince George (interference), 2:01; Zetariuk, Everett (hooking), 2:59; Sagert, Prince George (hooking), 4:37; Tochkin, Everett (tripping), 9:34; Eskesen, Everett (cross-checking), 13:25.

Third Period-3, Everett, Beach 29 (Gendur, Hlookoff), 11:07. 4, Prince George, Tyrell 30 (Gardner), 18:40 (en). Penalties-Redden, Prince George (holding), 5:01; Mihalik, Prince George (hooking), 5:25; Hamill, Everett (checking from behind), 11:35.

Shots on goal-Prince George 5-7-11-23. Everett 5-5-6-16. Power-play opportunities-Prince George 1 of 7. Everett 0 of 6.

Goalies-Prince George, Bowles 12-8-1-0 (16 shots, 15 saves). Everett, Irving 33-9-1-2 (22 shots, 20 saves).


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