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Thunderbirds edge 'Tips, clinch playoff berth | WHL

For the Reporter

The Seattle Thunderbirds clinched a playoff spot with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Everett Silvertips at Comcast Arena in Everett on Saturday night.

The T-Birds are now 37-17-2-3 and sit in fourth in the Western Conference. They are five points behind the third-place Victoria Cougars and eight points ahead of the fifth-place Spokane Chiefs.

The Prince George Cougars, who are in ninth place in the Western Conference, lost in overtime to the Kamloops Blazers. The Cougars have 56 points with 11 games remaining on their schedule. They can only get to 78 points, which is one less point than the 79 the T-Birds currently have.

The T-Birds host the Cougars at 5:05 p.m. today at the ShoWare Center.

Seattle goalie Taran Kozun continued his stellar play since being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers at the trade deadline. He improved to 11-2-0-0 with the T-Birds after stopping 27 of 29 shots. He is 16-21-2-1 overall in net this season with the T-Birds and Blazers.

Everett (28-22-7-1) took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal from Josh Winquist at 7:26 of the first period. Winquist beat Seattle goalie Taran Kozun with a slap shot from the top of the right circle. Matt Pufahl and Ivan Nikolishin had the assists.

Everett outshot Seattle 12-6 in the first period.

Seattle tied the game 1-1 on a shorthanded goal from Sam McKechnie at7:40 of the second period. McKechnie poked the puck away from a Tips defenseman just inside the Seattle blue line. McKechnie kept poking the puck up the ice as he was harassed from behind by the pursing defenseman. McKechnie made a move right and beat Everett goalie Austin Lotz for the tying goal.

The Silvertips took the lead back 23 seconds later when Patrick Bajkov knocked a puck out of the air and past Kozun for a power-play goal. Bajkov scored on a scramble in front of the Seattle goalie. The referees went to video review to confirm that the puck was not hit in with a high stick and they ruled it was not a high stick. Carson Stadnyk and Mirco Mueller had the assists.

Seattle outshot Everett 9-6 in the second period but Everett led 18-15 in total shots.

Seattle tied the game 2-2 1:39 into the third period. Jerret Smith sent the puck from the right corner in the Seattle zone up the right boards to McKechnie. McKechnie quickly tapped the puck to Russell Maxwell coming up ice in the neutral zone. Maxwell skated into the Everett zone through center ice then cut towards the left circle. Jaimen Yakubowski drove the net and Maxwell put a wrist shot on goal that beat Lotz over the glove.

The T-Birds took the lead for good at 9:03 of the third period on Adam Henry's seventh goal of the season. Mathew Barzal gained the Everett zone on the right side. He passed the puck to Ethan Bear inside the blue line at center ice. Bear moved the puck to Henry on his left. Henry, a left-hand shot, skated down the left boards and then cut towards the slot. Henry came through the slot and beat Lotz high with a backhand shot.

Everett pulled Lotz with 1:15 left in the third period for an extra attacker. The Silvertips got several shots on goal but Kozun and the T-Birds defense were up to the task and held the lead.

Everett outshot Seattle 11-4 in the third period and 29-19 in the game.

Lotz made 16 saves on 19 shots and his record is now 20-18-3-1.

T-Birds single game tickets for the 2013-14 season are available online at the T-Birds website and at the ShoWare Center box office. The ShoWare Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday game days at 10 a.m. and Sundaygame days at noon.

SCORING SUMMARY

First period - 1, Everett, Winquist 37 (Pufahl, Nikolishin), 7:26 (pp).Penalties - Hauf, Sea (hooking), 6:59. Maxwell, Sea (holding), 11:41. Aasman, Evt (roughing), 14:18. Delnov, Sea (roughing), 16:18. Betker, Evt (roughing), 16:18. Winquist, Evt (elbowing), 17:07.

Second period - 2, Seattle, McKechnie 6, 7:40 (sh). 3, Everett, Bajkov 7 (Stadnyk, Mueller), 8:03 (pp). Penalties - Elliot, Sea (interference), 6:54. Troock, Sea (hooking), 8:49.

Third period - 4, Seattle, Maxwell 13 (McKechnie, Smith), 1:39. 5, Seattle, Henry 7 (Bear, Barzal), 9:03. Penalties - Winquist, Evt (roughing), 7:27. Wardley, Sea (roughing), 7:27. McKechnie, Sea (delay of game), 13:54.

Shots on goal - Seattle 6-9-4 19, Everett 12-6-11 29. Goalies - Seattle, Kozun 29 shots-27 saves (16-21-2-1); Everett, Lotz 19-16 (20-18-3-1).Power plays - Seattle 0-2; Everett 2-5. A - 7,579. Referees - Sean Raphael, Pat Smith. Linesmen - Mark Heier, Justin Hull.

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