Everett came ever so close to earning home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but the Tips came up just short by falling to Portland 5-4 in a shootout Sunday evening in the final game of the WHL season.
The Tips went into the final game knowing they would face the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the playoffs. However, which team had home-ice advantage was still to be determined as Everett had a one-point lead on the T-birds going into the season's final day.
Seattle won 6-1 at Tri-City, then the Tips took the defending league-champion Winterhawks all the way to a shootout. But the Winterhawks prevailed in the shootout 2-1. Therefore, Everett and Seattle finished tied with 88 points, and the T-birds held the tiebreaker because they had two more wins.
Game 1 of the first-round series between fourth-seeded Seattle and fifth-seeded Everett is Saturday in Kent. The rest of the best-of-seven series will be played at alternate sites.
Joshua Winquist scored two goals for Everett to achieve yet another individual honor. Winquist finished the season with 93 points, tying the franchise single-season record set by Zach Hamill in 2006-07. Winquist, who already surpassed the franchise single-season goals record, extended that record to 47. Winquist also scored his 100th career WHL goal, finishing with 101.
Taylor Leier scored twice to lead Portland (54-13-2-3), which finished the season winning 28 of its final 29 games. Alex Schoenborn and Nicolas Petan also scored, while Adin Hill earned the win in goal with 17 saves. The second-seeded Winterhawks face seventh-seeded Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs.
Dawson Leedahl and Matt Pufahl scored the other goals for Everett (39-23-7-3), which came a hair away from ending the season on a 10-game winning streak. Austin Lotz played just the first period in goal for Everett, stopping 10-of-12 shots. Fifteen-year-old call-up Carter Hart played valiantly in relief, stopping 30 of 32.
Everett lost key center Jujhar Khaira to injury early in the game. The nature or severity of the injury was not known.
Portland took control of the game with two goals in three minutes midway through the first period. Leier opened the scoring at 9 minutes, 4 seconds when he poked home a rebound following a faceoff win. Then Schoenborn made it 2-0 at 12:19, cutting toward goal and firing past Lotz.
But Everett battled back in the second. Leedahl tipped a shot from the point in 1:45 to get the Tips on the board, and Winquist fired a one-timer past Hill at 7:25 to tie it up. Portland regained the lead at 11:47 when Brendan Leipsic fed Petan on an odd-man rush, but Everett tied it again at 14:10 when Pufahl's shot from the point found its way through traffic and into the net.
The Tips took their first lead 5:24 into the third as he was the beneficiary of Ivan Nikolishin's steal and feed. But Portland made it 4-4 while short-handed at 8:13, Petan setting up Leier.
Everett held on the rest of the way, including killing off a penalty in overtime, but the Tips couldn't earn that decisive second point in the shootout.
Winterhawks 5, Silvertips 4 (SO)
Everett 0 3 1 0 — 4
Portland 2 1 1 0 — 5
Portland won shootout 2-1
First Period—1, Portland, Leier 36 (Pouliot, Cederholm), 9:04. 2, Portland, Schoenborn 18 (Iverson), 12:19. Penalties—Pouliot, Portland (tripping), 0:10.
Second Period—3, Everett, Leedahl 8 (Pufahl, Hayer), 1:45 (pp). 4, Everett, Winquist 46 (Betker), 7:25. 5, Portland, Petan 35 (Leipsic), 11:47. 6, Everett, Pufahl 15 (Low, Bajkov), 14:10. Penalties— Viveiros, Portland (delay of game), 1:40; Aasman, Everett (checking to the head), 3:17.
Third Period—7, Everett, Winquist 47 (Nikolishin), 5:24. 8, Portland, Leier 37 (Petan), 8:13 (sh). Penalties—Rossignol, Portland (tripping), 7:26.
Overtime—. Penalties—Davis, Everett (holding), 0:16.
Shootout—Portland 2 (Pouliot G, Turgeon NG, Bjorkstrand NG, Petan G); Everett 1 (Bajkov NG, Winquist G, Hayer NG, Nikolishin NG).
Shots on goal—Everett 10-6-4-1—21. Portland 12-14-13-5—44. Power-play opportunities—Everett 1 of 3. Portland 0 of 2.
Goalies—Everett, Lotz (12 shots, 10 saves), Hart 0-1-0-1 (32 shots, 30 saves). Portland, Hill 4-0-0-0 (21 shots, 17 saves).
Silvertips vs. Thunderbirds
Game 1: Everett at Seattle, Saturday, March 22, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2: Seattle at Everett, Sunday, March 23, 4:05 p.m.
Game 3: Everett at Seattle, Tuesday, March 25, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4: Seattle at Everett, Friday, March 28, 7:35 p.m.
Game 5 (if necessary): Everett at Seattle, Saturday, March 29, 7:05 p.m.
Game 6 (if necessary): Seattle at Everett, Monday, March 31, 7:05 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): Everett at Seattle, Wednesday, April 2, 7:05 p.m.