Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Everett, Portland win OT thrillers; set up Western Conference semifinal

TUESDAY’S GAMES:


In Kent, Wash., F Nic Petan scored from the right faceoff circle with 58.8 seconds left in the first OT period to give the Portland Winterhawks a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland won the series, 4-2, to advance to the second round for a sixth straight year. The Winterhawks will open with games against the host Everett Silvertips on Friday and Saturday. The series will then head to Portland for games on Thursday, April 16 and Friday, April 17. Yes, the teams will get four days off as they change venues. . . . Portland F Miles Koules gave his guys a 4-3 lead on a wraparound at 11:25 of the third period. . . . Seattle F Scott Eansor forced OT when he scored his second goal of the game, and fifth of the series, at 18:20. . . . Eansor scored 14 times in 72 regular-season games. . . . Portland F Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice, his second goal providing a 3-1 lead at 3:23 of the second. . . . Portland D Shea Theodore scored at 6:37 and F Cory Millette tied it on a PP at 11:37. . . . Theodore also had two assists, as did F Matt Barzal. . . . Bjorkstrand had five goals in the series. . . . Portland G Adin Hill stopped 46 shots, 10 more than Seattle’s Taran Kozun. . . . Seattle was 1-for-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-for-2. . . . Attendance was 5,088. . . . Of the WHL’s eight first-round series, this was the most fun to watch via social media. The fans even feuded over the three-star selections.


In Spokane, F Brayden Low scored at 3:43 of the third OT period to give the Everett Silvertips a 2-1 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Everett won the series, 4-2, ending a string of seven consecutive first-round losses. It will meet the Portland Winterhawks in the second round. That series will open in Everett with games on Friday and Saturday. . . . Spokane is 0-7 with seven goals scored in its last seven home playoff games. . . . Low took advantage of a Spokane turnover in its zone to get a backhand through G Garret Hughson and into the net. . . . The goal was Low’s fourth of the series. In fact, he scored in each of the last four games. . . . Everett had a potential goal disallowed after video review when it was ruled that F Remi Laurencelle had deflected the puck into the net with a high stick. That came 1:15 into the second OT period. . . . Later in that period, Everett D Ben Betker had a shot glance off the cross-bar. . . . The Chiefs were 5.4 seconds from having their season end when F Kailer Yamamoto redirected a shot by F Adam Helewka to tie the game 1-1. . . . That sent the game to OT for the third time in the series. . . . F Kohl Bauml had scored for Everett, on a PP, at 10:11 of the first period. . . . Everett G Carter Hart continued his terrific play, this time with 53 stops, 17 of them in OT. . . . Hughson stopped 39. . . . Everett was 1-for-5 on the PP; Spokane was 0-for-1. . . . The Silvertips lost D Noah Juulsen to an undisclosed injury early in the game and, according to Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald, D Tristen Pfeifer didn’t play after the third period. . . . Mike Boyle, the radio voice of the Chiefs, missed this one due to the birth of his second son. Jay Stewart, a former play-by-play voice who is the Chiefs’ vice-president of sponsorships, filled in. . . . “No regrets," Don Nachbaur, Spokane’s head coach, told Chris Derrick of the Spokane Spokseman-Review. “We tried our best. We did our best. We made a lot of mistakes in the overtime and the game's about mistakes. But our effort was there. We just played the team that won the conference and played possibly one of the top teams in the Western Hockey League. We went nose-to-nose with these guys. A break here, a break there, we win the game, and I can say that about other games in this series, too.” . . . Attendance was 3,714.

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Jack Nicolle, who once owned a piece of the Regina Pats, died in a Regina hospital on April 1. He was 79. Nicolle, who had suffered a stroke five days earlier, owned a piece of the Pats, along with Huddy Bell, Morley Gusway, Bill Hicke and Ted Knight. . . . Nicolle was one of a kind. Oh, how I loved to listen to the man laugh. At one time, Nicolle owned part of Mutt and Jeff’s Bar & Grill, along with then-Saskatchewan Roughriders stars Jeff Fairholm and Dave Ridgway, and I sometimes would stop by just to chat and to laugh. . . . Regina is much richer for having had Nicolle, but is much poorer now that he is gone.
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G Evan Sarthou of the Tri-City Americans will play for Team USA at the 2015 IIHF U-17 World championship in Switzerland, from April 16-26. Sarthou, 17, is from Black Diamond, Wash. He was 11-15-2 with seven shutouts with the Americans this season. He had a 3.10 GAA and a .906 save percentage. His six shutouts were one shy of the team’s single-season record that is held by Carey Price.
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D Josh Morrissey of the Kelowna Rockets, who has been out with a leg injury since Feb. 28, is back practising and he isn’t wearing a non-contact jersey. The Rockets won’t say whether he’ll play Friday when they open at home against the Victoria Royals. Initially, it was thought he might be out until at least April 20. . . . Warren Henderson of Kelowna Capital News also reports that Rockets F Tyrell Goulbourne will play Friday after sitting out two games with an undisclosed injury, while F Justin Kirkland is still out.
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F Reid Duke of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who hasn’t played since Feb. 13, is back practising, but it’s not known if he’ll play Friday in the series-opener against the visiting Regina Pats. . . . When Duke does return, the Wheat Kings’ lineup will be gaining a point-a-game forward, as he had 51 points in 52 games when he was injured.
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F Coda Gordon of the Swift Current Broncos has joined the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. Gordon, 20, played 258 games with the Broncos. He put up 244 points, including 98 goals. He was a sixth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2012 NHL draft, but was never signed. . . .
D Dillon Heatherington of the Swift Current Broncos has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Springfield Falcons, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Heatherington, 19, had 15 points, including one goal, in 48 games with the Broncos this season. He also was a member of the Canadian team that won the World Junior Championship. In 247 career games with the Broncos, he has 87 points, 13 of them goals. The Blue Jackets selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2013 draft.
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THE COACHING GAME:

The OHL’s Sarnia Sting has fired head coach Trevor Letowski and chosen not to renew the contract of assistant coach Andy Delmore. Former NHLer Derian Hatcher, who is one of the Sting’s new owners, is the team’s new head coach. . . . Hatcher and F David Legwand of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators purchased the Sting earlier this year. . . . The Sting lost a first-round playoff series in five games to F Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters.
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Jason Stephens is the new GM/head coach of the junior B Golden Rockets, who play in the Kootenay International Junior League. Stephens, from Red Deer, is a coaching veteran familiar in Alberta hockey circles. This season, he was the head coach of the Red Deer Aero Chiefs minor midget AAA team. He spent more than four years as head coach of the Sylvan Lake Admirals, a senior men’s AAA team. Stephens also is the head coach of the Canada’s national inline hockey team. . . . Stephens takes over from Ty Davidson, who resigned following the end of this season. Davidson later signed on as head coach of the KIJHL’s Sicamous Eagles.
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