EVERETT, WA – The Everett Silvertips welcomed the new calendar year in style with a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in their first game of 2012 Wednesday at Comcast Arena. Everett’s second win of the year over Seattle concluded a stretch of three games against their closest rival in a nine-day span.
Josh Birkholz led the way with the first Silvertips hat trick of the season, scoring three times for his second career hat trick. JT Barnett also enjoyed a big night with three assists, while Josh Winquist (goal, assist) and Dominik Bittner (two assists) finished with multi-point efforts as well. The ‘Tips scored twice on the powerplay to break out of a recent drought, notching multiple powerplay goals for the first time since November 18 and adding a shorthanded score.
Seattle scored the game’s first goal just over three minutes in when Brandon Troock cut across the slot before wristing a shot by Kent Simpson to open the scoring. Everett answered just over one minute later as JT Barnett fed the puck behind the net to Cody Fowlie, who dished perfectly out front to Josh Birkholz for a one-timer to tie the score at one. Nick Walters put the ‘Tips ahead 2-1 on the powerplay later in the period, burying a Josh Winquist pass from atop the left circle to give them the lead after one.
A second powerplay tally in the middle period made it 3-1 after Fowlie created a Seattle turnover in the offensive zone. Barnett jumped on the loose puck and sent it across the slot to Birkholz, who slipped it past Calvin Pickard and extended the lead to two. The Thunderbirds then had a golden chance to rally when Brennan Yadlowski was issued a five-minute major penalty at the end of the second, giving the T-Birds a lengthy powerplay chance to start the third. Everett stifled the Seattle powerplay during an impressive penalty kill however, even getting a shorthanded breakaway goal as Winquist went to his backhand on Pickard after receiving a long lead pass from Dominik Bittner.
Marcel Noebels helped the T-Birds cut into the deficit with a shorthanded goal of his own, skating all the way across the ‘Tips zone before snapping a shot inside the far post to make it 4-2. Then with less than three minutes remaining, Birkholz sealed the 5-2 win and sent hats showering down from the stands when his shot during a 2-on-2 rush deflected off a Seattle defender and into the net for his 17th goal of the season.
Kent Simpson (6-17-1-5) held things down defensively with a 32-save effort as the Silvertips were outshot 34-27. Calvin Pickard (16-16-0-1) stopped 22 shots as he fell back to .500 for the season. The ‘Tips scored on 2 of 6 powerplay chances and turned in a 5-for-5 night on the penalty kill, including the entirety of that five-minute major penalty in the third period.
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The Silvertips will now travel to Portland for a Friday matchup with the Winterhawks before returning home for two more weekend home games. The ‘Tips are set to host the Tri-City Americans Saturday night at 7:05 pm and then the Spokane Chiefs Sunday at 5:05 pm at Comcast Arena.
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 (www.comcastarenaeverett.com) or at the Comcast Arena box office.