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WHL Playoffs: Big third period keeps Everett alive in Championship Series

Playing his last home game as a Silvertip, Carter Hart makes a big save during Game 5 (Christopher Mast/Silvertips)

EVERETT – With their backs to the wall for the first time all season, the Everett Silvertips responded and stayed alive.

It wasn’t easy as the Silvertips saw the Swift Current Broncos erase an early two-goal lead and gain momentum heading into the final 20 minutes of play. Everett had blown leads in two of the series losses but Friday would score four times in the third period to pick up a 6-3 win in Game 5.

The win cut the Broncos lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2 as it moves back to Swift Current for a Game 6 on Sunday.

“I thought our guys were resilient,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “It’s something we’ve talked about all year with our group. I thought our effort was there and our execution was there. It was desperate hockey for our club and something we stressed.”

Tied at two in the third period, Everett got a lucky bounce and capitalized.

Swift Current’s Giorgio Estehpan ripped a shot past Silvertips goalie Carter Hart but instead of finding the net, the puck found the iron and rebounded out to safety.

Just over 40 seconds later, Everett’s Sean Richards rumbled through Swift Current defenders and ripped a shot past goalie Stuart Skinner to give the Silvertips a 3-2 lead. With the building rocking, a Swift Current turnover two minutes later would lead to Everett extending the lead.

The puck was thrown out from behind the Broncos net, into the slot. The only player there was Everett’s Riley Sutter. He took two strides and let loose a wrist shot that found the net and gave Everett a 4-2 lead.

“We just turned the puck over,” Swift Current head coach Manny Viveiros said about his team’s performance in the third period. “We had the puck and we turned it over. That’s what it led to, we had full possession of the puck and we turned it over. I don’t know how much more I can break that down.”

The Broncos would be able to cut the Everett lead back to one on Noah King’s first WHL goal at 12:51 of the period. That led to some anxious moments for the home crowd but Connor Dewar would assuage their fears with two empty-net markers late to seal the victory.

Everett needed a good start Friday and got it six minutes into the game from its struggling power play. Defenseman Wyatte Wylie pinched in from the point and buried a pass from Dewar for his second of the playoffs.

The Silvertips extended their lead later in the period, at 16:07, when Matt Fonteyne let go of a shot from the slot that Skinner could not control. It was Fonteyne’s third of the series as the Silvertips captain played his last game in Everett.

“It was pretty cool to salute the fans after,” Fonteyne said. “They’ve done so much for all of us…it’s pretty special to play here five years and to get a win in the last game is something I’ll never forget.”

Needing a momentum swing, the Broncos would get it with just over two minutes left in the opening period while on the power play. Glenn Gawdin tapped in a goal after a tic-tac-toe passing play from Giorgio Estephan and Alexi Heponiemi.

Gawdin would score his second at 6:37 of the second period when he was left alone deep in the Everett zone. He got the puck, waited out Carter Hart and calmly tied the game by sliding the puck in the net. It was the fifth goal of the series for the Broncos captain.

Hart was also playing his last game in Everett and turned aside 21 Swift Current shots in his Angel of the Winds Arena finale.

After giving up a lead for the third time in the series, the Silvertips headed to the dressing room during the second intermission looking to avoid another tough loss.

“It was a calm talk,” Williams said of his message to the team. “We just said to go play our game. I liked the way we were playing to that point…It was just 20 minutes of hockey where we needed to throw everything at them. We had to go and set the pace and I thought they did that right from the get go.”

The Silvertips held off the Broncos this time to earn a trip back to Swift Current to try and extend the series. For the Broncos, they end the week by taking two of the three games in Everett and have a chance to win the Championship in front of their fans.

“Very happy the way our kids came in here and responded,” Viveiros said. “We’re very happy we’re going home for a Game 6 with a chance to clinch and there’s nothing negative other than we lost a game tonight. It’s done and over with and we’re looking forward to getting back home.”

Game 6 will be played Sunday evening at 6 P.M.