Playoff hockey is here! The Everett Silvertips took on the Seattle Thunderbirds at Angel of the Winds Arena tonight to kick off round one of the WHL playoffs, and the Silvertips looked every bit the top seed in the West that they are.
The first period opened like any playoff game should: high speed and hard hitting. Ottenbreit led the way for a Seattle team that did not let anyone get by without getting hit, although it was Everett generating the better scoring chances. Just over a minute in Donovan Neuls took a hooking penalty, but the Tips couldn’t generate much pressure with the man advantage. They were unable to find the back of the net until just over the halfway mark, when Matt Fonteyne sprung Garrett Pilon on a 2 on 1 up the right wing. Pilon fired a wrister over the glove of Hughes to make it 1-0.
The Tips got their physical game going with a huge hit that the Seattle bench wasn’t too pleased with.
“We need to make sure we’re on top of that in every period,” Bajkov said of the physical game. “Not just when we’re feeling good and confident.”
Williams would get a penalty for cross checking on the retaliation, but once again Everett couldn’t get any momentum on the power play. The first frame ended with a scrum behind the Seattle net that put Sean Richards in the box at the 20 minute mark.
Seattle began the second with a powerplay and proceeded to ice the puck and generate one shot before Everett scored shorthanded. Bajkov walked across the left circle into the slot untouched before roofing one over Hughes. The remaining 13 seconds of the Seattle powerplay were spent back in their own defensive zone.
The Volcan line appeared to be the only one generating any real chances for Seattle, until the 5:59 mark when Wedman lost a faceoff in the defensive zone to Fonteyne. It went right to Bajkov and he wristed one through traffic for his second goal in under 5 minutes.
Just over a minute later, Seattle got a much needed answering goal. Strand sent a weak wrist shot in from the right point and Andrusiak redirected it past Hart to get Seattle on the board. Unfortunately for them, Harsch took an interference penalty a minute later and sent Everett to their third power play. After struggling on their first 2 man advantages, Everett really applied the pressure this time around, though they still couldn’t find the back of the net.
Fonteyne talked a little bit about the power play after the game.
“We were trying to give it too much, so moving forward maybe just trying to keep it a little more simple.”
Fortunately for the Tips, their even strength game was going great. Everett lost a draw in the offensive zone, but Kindopp did a great job of staying with the puck, and after a neat little stick lift on Harsch, came around the left side of the net and flipped one in over the right shoulder of an unsuspecting Hughes.
Everett came out in the third ready to put the Birds away. Bajkov got the better of Ottenbreit twice in one shift, and Fairbrother threw a solid hipcheck on Neuls as he tried to enter the zone. The Tips managed to continue increasing their shot total lead while also becoming the more physical team in the third. Seattle never really managed to get back into this game in the final period.
The Silvertips dominated the game and won with a final score of 4-1, outshooting Seattle 46-26.
The Thunderbirds will try to even the series Saturday night at 7:05, back in Angel of the Winds Arena.