Morning Star Staff
Vernon minor hockey products Zach McPhee and Ryan Harrison supplied third-period offence as the Everett Silvertips rallied to stop the host Seattle Thunderbirds 6-4 Saturday night before 6,125 fans at the ShoWare Centre in Kent.
McPhee, with his fifth of the year, made it 4-4 at 8:31 of the third. Harrison then drew the primary assist on Cody Fowlie’s 14th, seven minutes later. Harrison, now a Kelowna resident, added an empty-netter, for his 20th goal of the season, with 19 seconds remaining.
The Silvertips, coached by former Vernon Viper bench boss Mark Ferner, had their streak of making the playoffs in every season of the franchise’s nine-year history extended Sunday night as Seattle lost 8-2 to the Portland Winterhawks in the final game of the Western Hockey League regular season.
Seattle had a chance to tie Everett for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference. Had the T-birds beaten the Winterhawks on Sunday, it would have forced a one-game playoff for the conference’s final playoff berth.
Portland’s victory gave the Tips the eighth spot outright. The Tips will face top-seeded Tri-City Americans in the first round. The series begins Friday in Kennewick.
Things didn’t look promising as the injury-riddled Tips had just six wins and were 10 points off the bottom of the conference standings at one point. However, Everett got superstar d-man Ryan Murray back off injured reserve and rallied in the final two months, winning 12 of its final 23 games.
Meanwhile, the Kelowna Rockets defeated the Vancouver Giants 4-3 in a shootout Saturday night before 6,124 fans at Prospera Place.
Zach Franko scored the lone goal of the shootout while Adam Brown was perfect in net as the Rockets ended the season at 31-31-4-6.
Tanner Moar, Carter Rigby and Jesse Lees scored in regulation for the Rockets, who built a 3-1 lead early in the third period before Vancouver scored twice to tie the game.
Marek Tvrdon scored twice for Vancouver and Scott Cooke added the other.
The Rockets will play Portland in the first round of the playoffs. The series begins with games one and two Friday and Saturday nights in Oregon before games three and four move to Kelowna March 27 and 29.