Versatile Kindopp key for Tips in Game 3 of Seattle series

With Sutter suspended, Kindopp will play an even bigger role against the Thunderbirds.

EVERETT — Bryce Kindopp has had his share of shining moments at ShoWare Center this season.

The Everett Silvertips winger potted the overtime game-winner in a 4-3 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds on Feb. 16, before scoring two goals, including the game-winner as Everett knocked off Seattle 3-2 on March 10. The February victory snapped an 11-game regular and postseason losing streak at ShoWare while the March win was Everett’s sixth win over Seattle in the 10-game regular-season series.

“I’m playing with great linemates and that helps a lot, and I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win,” Kindopp said. “It’s a team game and everybody is playing. You just go to the right areas and I think that’s about it.”

The Silvertips are hoping Kindopp can rekindle some of his ShoWare mojo tonight when the Tips and T-Birds square off at 7:05 p.m. for Game 3 of their WHL Western Conference quarterfinal series. The teams split two games last weekend at Angel of the Winds Arena and enter tonight’s game with seven-game series tied at a game apiece.

“There were some small details that maybe cost us a bit,” Kindopp said, referring to Everett’s 5-4 overtime loss in Game 2 Saturday. “We played a good game, but it’s always going to be a tough series so I think (we need) a quick response (tonight) and a good bounce-back game for us.”

Kindopp’s performance becomes all the more important following Monday afternoon’s news that center Riley Sutter will be suspended for one game after a knee-to-knee hit on Seattle’s Jake Lee on Saturday.

“With Suttsy out it gives someone else a chance to step up and fill a void with more minutes,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “Our team’s not built around one guy. We’re built as a group and we’ll pick up with him not being in the lineup and it will be a good challenge in our group.”

Sutter’s penalty came at the 18:00 mark of the second period and resulted in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for Sutter. The Tips killed that penalty, but allowed Seattle two power-play goals during the contest. Lee initially left the game, but he did return.

Kindopp is uniquely prepared to step up in Sutter’s absence since Kindopp has bounced between several different lines this season. He spent the first half of the season flanking Sutter with Connor Dewar on Everett’s second line, then got moved down to the third line when the Tips acquired Garrett Pilon. But Kindopp also played on the top line alongside center Matt Fonteyne and winger Patrick Bajkov when Sean Richards was suspended for four games in February.

Does the frequent shuffling bother Kindopp?

“No, not really — I go anywhere the coach needs me to go,” Kindopp said. “Every player is great to play with so it doesn’t really bother me. I just play tough and competitive hockey. It doesn’t really matter where I am, I’m always playing with great players so it doesn’t matter to me.”

Kindopp scored 24 goals this season and ranked fifth on the Tips roster. He added an impressive wraparound insurance goal in Everett’s 4-1 victory over Seattle in Game 1.

“It’s hard not to (keep putting him out there),” Williams said. “He gives you every reason, and more guys need to take a page from his book. He just goes about his business and comes in every day and competes to get better, and he’s a great teammate.”

Seattle is now 2-for-5 on the power play in the series after going 2-for-3 on Saturday. Both Game 2 goals came on point shot blasts by Austin Strand and Turner Ottenbreit. Those shots through traffic have been Seattle’s best offensive strategy for beating Everett goalie Carter Hart.

“Those guys hit pucks hard and we gotta commit to blocking pucks and being in the right lanes, and we can learn something off their power play with our group,” Williams said. “We need to shoot harder and get more guys over top (of the goalie) just like Seattle does. But at this time of year you have to have good defense and special teams have to be strong.”

Everett is just 1-for-9 on the power play and that came when Pilon tapped in a back-door feed during a 5-on-3. The Tips generated 31 percent of their goal-scoring on the man advantage during season.

Everett also holds a significant 95-59 shot advantage in the series, suggesting the Tips are creating a number of good scoring chances. Seattle goalie Liam Hughes has saved 87 of Everett’s shots and has a .916 save percentage in the series. That is an uptick from his regular-season percentage of .909. Meanwhile, Hart, the two-time defending WHL Goaltender of the Year has an .898 percentage — far below his record-setting regular-season percentage of .947.

Following Tuesday’s game the teams reconvene Friday at ShoWare Center for Game 4 beginning at 7:35 p.m.

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