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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

End of the road

Spokane's J.P. Szaszkiewicz checks Everett's Dane Crowley into the boards. 
 (J. Bart Rayniak / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane Chiefs gave the Everett Silvertips all they had. It just wasn’t enough.

Everett downed Spokane 4-1 in Game 6 of the teams’ opening-round Western Hockey League playoff series on Sunday night at the Arena, winning the best-of-7 series 4-2.

The game was tight all the way, as the final two goals for Everett were empty-netters in the final 1 minute, 33 seconds. So, the final score wasn’t indicative of a series which was hotly contested throughout.

“I have a lot of respect to all the guys in there,” said an emotional assistant captain Chris Bruton, nodding toward the locker room. “We gave it our all the whole year… it’s just a heartbreaker.”

Spokane was the fourth seed from the U.S. Division entering the playoffs but had its moments against the top-ranked team in the WHL and the Canadian Hockey League, giving the Silvertips a scare.

“It feels great,” said Derek Ryan, the Spokane product who completed his WHL career with the loss. “We played our hearts out and we’ve got nothing to hang our heads about. They played great. They’re a great team, so we tip our hats to them.”

Once again, controversial officiating was at the center of Sunday’s game. Everett had complained about disputed goals in Games 3 and 4, while Spokane had its own in Game 5.

Spokane was also left shaking its head in this game, though the Chiefs responded better to the adversity than they did on Saturday night in Everett.

Everett led 2-1 after the first period – the go-ahead and winning goal coming in the final seconds on a controversy which had two facets.

First, the initial call was notable – a double-minor high sticking call against Spokane’s J.P. Szaszkiewicz on incidental contact with 2:23 remaining in the period. The call gave Everett an uncommon four-minute power play.

Everett used the man advantage to then score another disputed goal with just 4.3 seconds left in the first. The Silvertips were still on the power play due to the double penalty. A two-minute minor would have put the teams at even strength before the goal.

Secondly, the goal came when Everett’s Kyle Beach pounded away at a rebound while the puck was at the near post and goaltender Dustin Tokarski appeared to have it covered. There was no whistle, though, and it was ruled to have crossed the goal line.

Spokane didn’t collapse as it did in Game 5 after a disputed goal – and more adversity was still coming its way. The Chiefs were hit with five penalties (to one for Everett) over a 6:41 span that eventually resulted in a 5-on-3 of 1:20.

The Chiefs also had a couple of potential calls that weren’t made by the officials during that stretch which drew the ire of the fans.

Spokane killed off the 5-on-3 – thanks in large part to Tokarski – but expended a lot of energy doing so and it showed in the third as they tried to tie the game.

“Obviously, that’s always going to tax your key guys,” said Spokane coach Bill Peters. “It’s always the same guys going out there, especially in a 5-on-3. It just burns your guys out.”

Yet the Chiefs refused to focus on the calls as the difference in the series. They missed some open nets, hit some posts, and committed penalties at bad times. Still, they were looking at the positive – especially for the future.

“They’ve got lots of young talent,” departing 20-year-old Evan Haw said of the returning Chiefs. He played through a severe knee injury the final 30 minutes. “They’re one of the best younger teams I’ve seen in a long time.”

Silvertips 4, Chiefs 1


First Period—1, Evt, Mueller 3 (Mistelbacher) 7:32; 2, Spo, Bowman 2 (Zimmerman, Roman) 9:13 (pp); 3 Evt, Beach 3 (Fransoo) 19:56 (pp). Second Period—None. Third Period—4, Evt, Dailey 2 (Potuer, Gutierrez) 18:37 (en); 5, Evt, Sonne 1 19:53 (en).

Power-play Opp.—Everett 1 of 8; Spokane 1 of 6. Saves—Everett, Irving 8-6-12—26. Spokane, Tokarski 8-11-6—25. A—4,649.