EVERETT, WA – Defenseman Ryan Murray returned to the lineup for the first time since October 19 and recorded an assist in the game, but the Everett Silvertips dropped a 5-2 decision to the Spokane Chiefs in front of over 5,800 fans Friday night at Comcast Arena. Everett’s fourth loss to Spokane this year extended its losing streak to eight games going into Saturday’s home matchup with the Tri-City Americans.
JT Barnett had a goal and an assist to lead the ‘Tips offensively, while Josh Birkholz scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season. Murray played a regular shift for Everett in his first game action since a leg injury caused him to miss 19 straight games. The ‘Tips Captain will now leave the team to attend Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp in Calgary, where he will vie for a spot on Team Canada’s roster for the IIHF World Junior Championships.
The Silvertips came out strong in the opening minutes and got on the board first after creating a turnover. JT Barnett made a nice play at the blue line to keep the puck in then rifled off a shot before Josh Birkholz banged home the rebound to give the ‘Tips the lead. Brennan Yadlowski nearly made it 2-0 on a partial shorthanded breakaway later in the period, but his shot rang off the post. Spokane tied it up with five minutes left in the period when Anthony Bardaro scored seven seconds into a Chiefs powerplay and the game was even at one heading into the second frame.
Everett controlled the beginning of the second, but Spokane took the lead when Blake Gal fired a shot over the Kent Simpson’s shoulder to finish an odd-man rush. Bardaro scored his second of the game off a lead pass from Brendan Kichton just over a minute later to give the Chiefs a 3-1 lead. The ‘Tips created a little of their own powerplay magic when Ryan Murray’s wrist shot from the point made its way through traffic and to the goal mouth, where Barnett backhanded the rebound into the net to bring Everett back within one after 40 minutes.
Each team sent seven shots to the net in the final period, but only Spokane would find the back of the net to extend their advantage and ice the win. The Chiefs took advantage of a Silvertips defensive-zone turnover that resulted in Colin Valcourt’s goal at 6:47, with a back-door tap-in from Liam Stewart completing the scoring three minutes later in Spokane’s 5-2 victory.
Kent Simpson (4-15-0-3) ended the night with 24 saves in goal for Everett, while winning goaltender Mac Engel (12-9-1-1) made 23 stops. The Silvertips finished 1 for 5 on the powerplay. The Chiefs were 1 for 3 and outshot the ‘Tips 29-25.
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Everett will continue this weekend’s back-to-back set at Comcast Arena at 7:05 pm Saturday night when the Tri-City Americans come to town for the second time this season. The ‘Tips beat the league-leading Americans 6-3 in the first meeting between b the clubs this year. Group tickets and mini-game packages for the 2011-2012 regular season can be purchased in person at the team office inside at Comcast Arena or by phone at 425-252-5100. Single game tickets are on sale by phone (866-332-8449), online (comcastarenaeverett.com) or at the Comcast Arena box office.