By Carmen Dittoe – Silvertips Staff Writer
The year 2004 was the first time the Everett Silvertips made an appearance in the Western Conference Championship. They were swept by the Medicine Hat Tigers in four games and had not made a return to the series for over a decade.
Fourteen years later, history was made in Angel of the Winds Arena.
In game five against the Swift Current Broncos, the Silvertips were down two wins in a 3-1 series. With the WHL Championship on the line in the last guaranteed home game of beloved veterans Patrick Bajkov (RW), Matt Fonteyne (LW), and Kevin Davis (D), a rally was sparked in front of a passionate home crowd in downtown Everett.
With Carter Hart between the posts, second year Silvertips defenseman Wyatte Wylie claimed the first goal of the game only six minutes in on a power play that followed a Swift Current minor. Fonteyne followed suit ten minutes later with a lower glove side goal off a drop in by left wing Martin Fasko-Rudas. Swift current center Glenn Gawdin answered with a late power play goal to close out the first period.
Carrying his momentum into the second, Gawdin scored again in just 6:37 off an assist from the blue line that was unanswered by Everett for the remainder of the period.
After a dry second period, the Silvertips kicked off the third with heat as Sean Richards forced himself up the wall and gained control into the offensive zone. With a shot from the left circle, the left shooting forward put Everett ahead 3-2 nearly five minutes into the third period. Just over a minute later, right winger Riley Sutter scored his 9th goal of the post season as he went top shelf from just past the blue line in the center of the attacking zone. Swift Current rookie Noah King netted his first post-season goal nearly 13 minutes into the period, making it a 3-3 game.
As just over a minute remained in regulation, Swift Current pulled goalie Stuart Skinner to add another skater. Taking full advantage of the empty net, Sutter lobbed the puck up ice ahead of center to be retrieved by Dewar, who beat a Broncos defenseman in a footrace to the net for an insurance goal nearing the end of the period. After a lofted pass up ice from Ondrej Vala with 30 seconds left in the third period, Dewar found the goal yet again and closed out the game 6-3.
With a 2-3-2 schedule, the win was ensured as the last career home game for overage vets Fonteyne, Davis, and Bajkov – arguably going in the archives as the greatest 20-year old class in Silvertips history, to date. All would wind up with pro contracts by the end of the summer.
With Carter Hart on the fast track to the Philadelphia Flyers organization, the win too secured likely his last career Tips home game as a triumphant one.
Certainly, it was a memory everyone took away that would last forever.
Though the victory was followed by loss on the road, legends went out strong before the crowd that loved them most.