Everett, WA –
Stuart Skinner shut the door on the Everett Silvertips with a 32-save shutout in Game 4 on Wednesday night, giving his team a 3-1 series lead and putting his Swift Current Broncos on the verge of their first WHL Championship since 1993, when they came back to beat the Portland Winterhawks in seven games.
Skinner was quick to praise the team in front of him.
“I was really happy with how my team played in front of me, especially in the second period when they had a couple real good opportunities.”
He now has five shutouts in the playoffs, with four of them coming on the road. Skinner mentioned that he feeds off the negative crowd noise directed at him while away from his home rink.
“Just as when I played against Lethbridge, when the fans get on me, I get more dialed in and more focused. I think I then get more jacked up because of the atmosphere here and it helps me focus. The whole time I have just been having fun and I’m really happy with how I’ve been playing.”
Skinner was impressive, but he was helped by an unreal effort from his team in front of him who blocked countless shots and kept the Silvertips from having too many high quality opportunities.
Everett Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams praised how committed the Broncos were to getting into shooting lanes.
“They did a great of blocking shots. They’ve been good all series on it. We have to continue to try and get second and third chances on Skinner and we had some good looks as well,” Williams said.
The two teams have a day off before they take to the ice at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett for Game 5 on Friday. If Everett wins that game, they will head to Swift Current for Game 6 and a possible Game 7.
Colby Sissons netted the lone marker in the game as Carter Hart was solid in a losing cause for Everett, stopping 18 of 19.
There was no score in the first but both teams had their opportunities on the man advantage. Swift Current had a 41 second 5-on-3 that they nearly cashed in on when Wyatte Wylie deflected the puck away from a waiting Glenn Gawdin at the back post and with Hart out of position.
Everett had a power play of their own, but again struggled to create anything and had zero shots, while they allowed two the other way. The Broncos, who had just six shots in the first again looked energized on the penalty kill.
Swift Current head coach Manny Viveiros liked how his team did against Everett’s power play. They have now killed off 14 of 15 power plays Everett has had in the series so far.
“They know exactly what they are supposed to be doing out there and they are working hard. We are blocking shots and we are doing the things we want to be doing. We want to be aggressive on the puck. But again we do not want to be taking penalties. That shortens the bench and kids get tired after a while,” Viveiros said.
Yet another time in the last two games Everett’s fans were disappointed as a goal was waved off. Connor Dewar cut to the net and had his pass to the front deflect up. Riley Sutter was tangled up and got a glove on it, knocking it in. Referees Mike Campbell and Chris Crich immediately waved off the goal and it held up under review.
More power play chances were handed out in the second with Everett being the beneficiary of a 5-on-3 this time.
Ultimately the scoreless tie would be broken by Swift Current on their fourth power play of the game, seconds after Matteo Gennaro returned to the ice, giving them the advantage in players on the ice.
Sissons, as the rest of his teammates on the ice changed, drove at three Silvertips and wired a shot by Hart’s glove for his second of the series and fifth of the playoffs.
Everett would create some top notch chances finally on the power plays they had, but Skinner turned away one-timers by Matt Fonteyne, Connor Dewar and Patrick Bajkov, holding them scoreless.
Williams still liked how his team came out in Game 4, after losing twice in-a-row in overtime.
“I liked how we played. That’s what happens this time of year. It wasn’t a lack of effort. It’s a tough one. I was proud of our effort and I was proud of our tempo, compete and response. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We are in a bit of a rut,” Williams said.
We then entered the third period with Everett in an unfamiliar position, trailing late in the game.
The Silvertips mixed up the lines, putting Bryce Kindopp with Bajkov and Fonteyne and owned a majority of possession, but the Broncos team defense kept them well to the outside, with Skinner stopping the looks they did have.
Everett pulled Hart for the extra attacker with a face off deep in the Swift Current zone with two minutes left, hoping for the same last minute heroics Swift Current was able to pull out in Game 2. However, despite Garrett Pilon having a rebound right in front with just over a minute left, they could not even the score.
Skinner recalled making the stop on Pilon late in the game, with his team clinging to a one-goal advantage.
“I got that nice save at the end. It was kind of a broken play. I lost the puck for a second and he made a nice move. I had to go into goalie 911 mode there. I did my best and was able to come up with the save,” Skinner said.
The Silvertips were shutout for the first time since March 11th in Portland and blanked at home for the first time since December 4th, 2015.
They now face a huge mountain of a task with Friday’s Game 5 at home looming. They have to win three straight or have their season ended.
Williams delivered a positive message to his squad after they suffered their third straight one-goal loss. “I told our guys we will have an even stronger effort on Friday and learn from it.”
Everett finished 0-for-5 on the power play, while Swift Current went 1-for-4.
-Everett was led in shots by Pilon’s five, while Swift Current had Tyler Steenbergen lead them with four.
-Glenn Gawdin went 10-fo-22 at the face off dot for Swift Current, while Andrew Fyten was 3-of-10, Giorgio Estephan went 8-of-14 and Matteo Gennaro was 4-for-11.
-For Everett Riley Sutter was 14-for-25, Fonteyne went 13-of-23 and Reece Vitelli was 3-of-7.
-Friday is the last home game for Kevin Davis, Fonteyne, Bajkov and likely Hart and Pilon, as regardless there will not be another home game in Everett this season.
-Both Estephan and Gennaro were slow to get to the bench after taking tumbles, but both did not miss a shift.
-Bajkov played after appearing to suffer an injury in Game 3, but his status was a game-time decision and he did not look to be anywhere near full strength.