Silvertips edge Thunderbirds on last second overtime goal
EVERETT – In what is a potential first-round playoff match up, the Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips played a game full of post season intensity Saturday night.
For 64 minutes, Seattle goalie Roddy Ross and Everett’s Dustin Wolf failed to blink. Neither had allowed a goal, both were on the good end of a couple of hit posts and both had steered their clubs to overtime. The Thunderbirds had a golden chance in the overtime period when defenseman Owen Williams made a move to free himself up for a shot that hit one of the aforementioned posts and rebounded to safety.
The game seemed destined to go to the shootout, but Everett’s Bryce Kindopp would then get a puck in front of the Seattle net and score to win the game 1-0 with just .4 of a second left on the Angel of the Winds scoreboard.
“I’m really happy with the guys and how they played,” Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette said. “They battled hard and I thought we played very well tonight. It’s obviously an emotional game out there with two rivals going at it and a really good hockey game.”
Seattle (25-28-6-2) got another great performance from Ross in net as he stopped 40 shots and while he won’t get credit for his first career WHL shut out, he did keep the Silvertips off the scoreboard in regulation.
His best saves came midway through the third period when Kindopp had two chances in close, but Ross got his pad on both to preserve the scoreless tie.
“In this building when you know you’re going to need some saves, he was there for us,” O’Dette said of Ross. “Both goalies were going toe to toe there, and he was good for us.”
Everett (44-14-2-2) was backstopped by Wolf, who kicked out all 32 Seattle shots for his seventh shutout of the season.
The point in the standings earned by the Thunderbirds was big as the Kamloops Blazers lost at home Saturday. That allowed Seattle to extend its lead to six games in the race for the Western Conference’s wild card spot.
“Not too worried about what they’re doing,” O’Dette said of Kamloops. “We’ve got to just keep focusing on our game and playing good hockey games one game at a time and see where the chips fall.”
Despite it being a loss it was a gusty effort for the Thunderbirds who didn’t arrive home from Friday’s game in Kamloops until six on Saturday morning, after an all-night bus ride. There were no signs of fatigue as the Thunderbirds matched the division leading Silvertips all night.
“We had a lot of jump,” O’Dette added. “I thought we played the right way to stay fresh. For the most part our puck management was pretty good. We didn’t get hemmed in our end too much where it taxed us. I don’t know what the penalties were, but we kept that somewhat in check and we didn’t have to kill as much, which helps when you’re trying to conserve some energy.
Both clubs would get four power-play looks but neither were able to cash in on them.
Not only did Seattle have jump from the start, but the Thunderbirds left everything on the ice, which was demonstrated in two key plays.
With about ten minutes left in the game, Seattle defenseman Jake Lee threw his body in front of an Everett shot. The puck hit him hard, leaving him stunned and in pain on the ice. He went to the bench hunched over but would not miss a shift.
In the overtime period, Kindopp had an early chance as he got behind the Seattle defense. Nolan Volcan turned on the jets to catch the Everett forward and laid him out with a big, clean hip check to break up the play.
“That’s T-Bird hockey right there,” O’Dette said. “Sacrificing yourself for the team, that’s what it’s all about. That’s how you win hockey games in playoff type situations. All those little plays are magnified, and those plays helped us get the point.”
If the playoffs were to start Sunday, the Thunderbirds would play the Silvertips in the first round for the second straight year. After dropping the first six games in the season series, Seattle has won two of the last three while earning five out of six points.
A series that looked like a sure rout earlier in the year, now has the potential to be tight.
“I think we’re playing a little better every time against these guys,” O’Dette said. “I think tonight was our best effort against them and we’re gaining some confidence. We know we can play some competitive games against these guys but there’s a long way to go and we’re taking them one game at a time.”
Like Friday night, the Thunderbirds have little time to dwell on Saturday’s events.
The travel will be easier, but they will complete their three-in-three weekend with a five o’clock start at the accesso ShoWare Center against the Tri-City Americans.
“We played really well,” O’Dette said. “We left it all on the ice and it should be a nice confidence booster heading into tomorrow.”
• Matthew Wedman and Noah Philp each saw scoring streaks stopped on Saturday. Wedman had points in his previous 11 contests and Philp in his previous 10.
• Saturday was the second straight game between the two clubs to go to overtime and third overall. They had split the previous two decisions.
• For Ross, Saturday was the second night in a row that he faced 40 or more shots after his 42 save performance Friday night in Kamloops.
• Kamloops will also be in action again on Sunday. They will be in Langley to play the Vancouver Giants in a game that will get underway an hour before Seattle hosts Tri-City.