Please excuse yourself from the lack of sleep, the long day at work, the never-ending sloth of traffic, or the disappointing grade on that term paper to relish everything that happened on Monday:
- Team USA (yeah, those ladies who stopped in Everett) won a gold medal in overtime
- Kris Jenkins won a championship at the buzzer
- We had a WHL Playoff series end in Game 7, in overtime
And you wonder why we all love sports?
It’s for moments like those. They’re dopamine-drenched, feel-good, warm-fuzzies we often rehearse in our brain under the “what if THAT could happen” category?
And now we get the second ever Everett Silvertips vs. Seattle Thunderbirds playoff series. Total drive time: 45 minutes (without traffic, of course). Everett to Kent, Kent to Everett. Whether you go green or bear blue, we all coexist under the same Pacific Northwest umbrella (one that has flourished with the nearest NHL team two hours away in the Vancouver Canucks).
Quite fitting that one local media outlet previewed the series with two guys in one studio. At the same time.
At hand: zero overnight hotel stays and just 45 minutes of travel between I-5 and I-405. Anybody associated with this series and an automobile loves the extended family time (my wife and 16-month old son, Lukas, included).
By the way of stakes:
- The Tips are bidding for their first appearance in the Conference Finals since 2005-06.
- The T-Birds are bidding for their first appearance in the Conference Finals since 2002-03.
By the numbers:
- Silvertips record: 6-2-1-1 in the series.
- The Thunderbirds have lost only once in regulation since Feb. 8, capturing the U.S. Division title.
- Verdict: 7 of 10 games were decided by two goals or less.
- Both clubs have combined for 53 home wins, regular season and playoffs.
- Both clubs finished in the top 3 for fewest goals allowed per game in the WHL.
Two Silvertips game winners were decided with less than three minutes left in regulation. Another one ended in the seven millionth round of a shootout.
It has two first round NHL Entry Draft selections:
- Noah Juulsen, named WHL second team All-Star.
- Mathew Barzal, named WHL first team All-Star.
A goaltender on each end has captured a WHL Goalie of the Month nomination:
- Carter Hart, named WHL first team All-Star.
- Landon Bow, 1st in WHL shutouts (7)
Let’s just put the predictions aside (those are for the pundits outside these walls) and consider that for all the contributing pieces (because there were many, for both teams), we have the building blocks of a series to remember. For a long time.
Games 1-2 in Kent make for a breezy commute for dedicated Tips road trip diehards, but the set of Games 3-4 (and 6, if necessary) is where the essence of “showtime” is needed for Snohomish County.
If you have a soul for hockey in these parts, you need to be in downtown Everett. If you have a thirst for the entrancing elements of playoff hockey, you need to be in downtown Everett. If you carry the weight of pride – not just for the Silvertips, but for the achievements of Snohomish County in general – you need to be in downtown Everett.
(By the way, www.everettsilvertips.com/playoffpromos is where you get your tickets, if you haven’t crossed that off your list.)
SILVERTIP REWIND: In come the Winterhawks, and out they go with a Silvertip four-game sweep. Three wins came in the absence of Carter Hart. In place: Mario Petit and crew kept the Winterhawks tied or trailing for all but 2:16.
The ancient Chinese proverb remarks, “one finger cannot lift pebble.” Welcome to 2015-16 Everett Silvertips hockey.
Much to the credit too of head coach Kevin Constantine and assistants Mitch Love and Brennan Sonne, the Tips allowed a paltry 2.3 goals allowed per game (for much of this season: lowest in the entire CHL) got past them in the regular season. They don’t trip over their own feet, by way of a league record low 8.9 minutes in penalties taken per game. To borrow a phrase from Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff, “everybody ropes, everybody rides.” They outscored Portland 15-6 in the series.
By the end of it, countless additional contributions to help sweep the Winterhawks for the first time since the Clinton administration, Wayne Gretzky’s last season, and the rise of N*Sync.
To conclude four games against Portland, stick tap to the Silvertips faithful who made the trek down I-5 to Moda Center. We saw, heard, and enjoyed the engulfing pro-Silvertips support. Those who wear green certainly travel well. I tend to operate in a vacuum at times, but it was impossible to ignore the contrasting cheers at times during Game 4.
RADIO: Game 1 is Friday, with air time at 7:00pm in Kent (Fox Sports 1380/Tips App/WHL Live). Al Kinisky will be with yours truly, while Kellan Tochkin will take over color analysis for parts of the series (while big Al tends to business).
As a guy holding play-by-play responsibilities, it’s enticing theatre waiting to be described.
Let’s enjoy this one.
Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton is in his first season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips. Tweet at him here.