The Everett Silvertips are stingier than Uncle Scrooge.
They went into Saturday’s game against the Kamloops Blazers having allowed 2.17 goals per game, the lowest figure in the 60-team CHL. They had surrendered two or fewer goals in 25 of their 35 games. They had given up only 14 goals in their 35 first periods.
Of course, the Silvertips don’t score many more goals than they give up.
So there were the Blazers, who have outscored Everett by 30 goals this season, with a 3-1 lead and looking like money in the bank six minutes into the third period at the Sandman Centre.
But a funny thing happened to the Blazers on their way to deposit the points — the WHL’s U.S. Division leaders scored the game’s last three goals, winning it 4-3 when defenceman Noah Juulsen stuffed the puck through goaltender Connor Ingram just 46 seconds into overtime.
The Blazers began the extra session — teams play 3-on-3 — by moving into the Everett zone but weren’t able to create anything. As the Silvertips gained possession and moved into the neutral zone, centre Matt Fonteyne passed to Juulsen, who is one of the WHL’s best defencemen, as he skated on the left side against Kamloops centre Matt Needham.
“At the time I was thinking about going for a change,” said Juulsen, an Abbotsford native who was a first-round selection by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s 2015 draft. “Fonteyne gave me a nice pass in the middle of the ice so I thought I would try to go down and finish the game.
“I drove it wide and just stuffed it to the net and it slid through his five-hole.”
Needham was quick to tip his hat to the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Juulsen, who has four goals.
“He’s a big, strong guy,” Needham said. “It’s a 3-on-2, you have to give him one play. I figured the outside was the best option. There was no way he was going to cross the net.
“It’s a good play by a good player . . . you have to give it to him.”
Kamloops head coach Don Hay agreed with his captain.
“Juulsen’s a good player. He made a good play at the end there,” Hay said. “He took the puck to the net and he got rewarded.”
The Silvertips did a lot of that in the third period as they outshot their hosts, 18-3.
“We stopped skating,” Hay said. “We just stopped doing the things that had made us successful. We’ve got to overcome that. We’ve got to work our way through those things.”
It’s no secret that the Silvertips play the WHL’s most-structured game. It is hard to create anything against them, but the Blazers were more than holding their own in the third period.
Right-winger Deven Sideroff had given Kamloops a 2-1 lead when he rifled a power-play shot through goaltender Mario Petit, who was making only his second start of the season, at 16:28 of the second period.
When centre Matt Revel whistled a shot from the left wing over Petit’s right shoulder at 5:28 of the third period, well, things were looking good for the home side.
But Kamloops defenceman Ryan Rehill took a roughing penalty at 6:38 and Fonteyne, a grandson of former NHLer Val Fonteyne, scored his career-high ninth goal on a rebound one minute later.
Prior to that goal, the Blazers’ penalty-killing unit, the WHL’s best, had gone 15-for-15 over seven-plus games.
Just five minutes later, it was Everett forward Carson Stadnyk splitting Rehill and partner Luke Zazula and beating Ingram to forge the 3-3 tie.
“I thought we were playing a real good game until after we scored,” said Hay. “We were playing well . . . we had a 3-1 lead. It was like a chess match out there. They’re a hard team to play against because they really do a good job checking. I thought we matched them.
“Then we had two bad plays with the puck. We didn’t clear on the penalty kill, and then we didn’t get the puck deep off a rush. They countered and took it right to our net.”
Left-winger Collin Shirley had opened the scoring, with his team-leading 24th goal, at 1:52 of the first period. Everett left-winger Brandon Ralph got that back at 17:19 with his second goal this season.
Each team was playing its third game in four nights, but while the Blazers were at home the whole time, Everett (22-12-2) was putting on some miles. The Silvertips won 2-1 in overtime in Kelowna on Wednesday, then returned home and beat the Rockets 3-1 on Friday, before heading back this way.
“They played at a higher level in the third period,” Hay said. “You have to continue to create offence and continue to get shots, and we stopped doing that and played too much in our own end.”
Still, the Blazers can gain something from the fact that they hung in there against a solid team, and Hay knows that they can learn from the experience.
“They’re a good team and they don’t do many things to hurt themselves . . . they don’t shoot themselves in the foot,” Hay said.
The Blazers completed a post-Christmas stretch of five games in seven nights with the loss — they went 1-3-1. They now are 18-14-5 and remain in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card playoff spot. In the B.C. Division, Kamloops is seven points behind Prince George with the Cougars (23-13-2) to play here on Wednesday night. The game is to televised by Shaw.
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 3,656. . . . Kamloops was 1-for-1 on the power play; Everett was 1-for-4. . . . Petit, an 18-year-old from Iles des Chenes, Man., finished with 14 saves as he posted his first WHL victory. . . . Ingram turned aside 34 shots in another stellar performance. . . . The Blazers scratched F Gage Quinney, D Dallas Valentine and D Dawson Davidson, all of whom have undisclosed injuries and won’t play tonight either. They also scratched D Patrik Maier, who is with Slovakia at the World Junior Championship in Helsinki. . . . Maier will fly into Cranbrook next week and join the Blazers as they make their way from Portland to Medicine Hat. . . . D Travis Verveda, 18, is expected to arrive in time to skate with the Blazers on Monday. He has been with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . The Silvertips, who are 9-0-0 against Kamloops over the past two-plus seasons, and Blazers hadn’t met since Nov. 26, 2014, when Everett won 2-1 at home. They will be back in Kamloops on Jan. 20.
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Whoa Noah! Silvertips win in OT
The Everett Silvertips are stingier than Uncle Scrooge.