CHL Notebook: The Everett-Victoria marathon, by the numbers

The London Knights managed a 5-3 win over the Spitfires to even their series at 3-3 and force a Game 7.

Astoundingly, Cal Babych had enough energy to get a breakaway.

The longest game in Canadian Hockey League history got the ending it warranted, with a good goal ending the 151-minute, 36-second marathon between the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals. The teams were more than halfway through a fifth overtime — the first time a WHL game had needed one — when Babych peeled away with the puck after a turnover high in the Everett zone and went top-corner glove side on Victoria goalie Griffen Outhouse. The goal gave Everett a series-clinching 3-2 win and a date in the U.S. Division final against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

It was a 2:05 p.m. start, but went so long — how long was it? — that the Silvertips were unable to make the last ferry from Vancouver Island to the mainland.

While it’s not actually the longest game of 2017, it was a remarkable display of endurance by, well, essentially everyone who entered the Save-On Foods Centre on Sunday. That goes extra for the wild-card Royals, who went into the do-or-done fray with core contributors Jack Walker, Scott Walford and Ethan Price injured and unable to play.

The contest broke the CHL’s longest-game record (heretofore Hull-Victoriaville, 1999) by five minutes and 25 seconds and added 14:40 to the WHL standard (Kamloops-Kootenay, 2003). And that’s just the beginning of the bizarre numbers that put the game into context:

136: The combined save totals by the Royals’ Outhouse and Silvertips goalie Carter Hart. They stood toe-to-toe and save-for-save through five complete scoreless periods. Hart made a huge stop on Victoria’s best player, Matthew Phillips, moments before the contest reached CHL-record territory.

349: The length of the game in real time — five hours and 49 minutes. That is enough time for a long-distance runner to complete two actual 42-kilometre marathon races. The matinee puck drop also contributed to wonderful shared experience on hockey Twitter, since it was still early enough back east for aficionados of junior puck to hang in through sixth, seventh and eighth periods.

The game started two and a half hours before the Oshawa-Sudbury game in the OHL. It ended more than an hour after that game.

106: Minutes played without a penalty being called. Everett’s Keith Anderson was gated for goalie interference 5:22 into the third period. After that, referees Reid Anderson and Chris Crich let the players decide it.

9: Number of overtime periods total on Vancouver Island on Sunday night. It took four sessions of bonus hockey before the visiting Campbell River Storm defeated the Victoria Cougars in Game 7 of Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League championship series. The overtime scorer, Christian Brandt, has the same initials — CB — as Everett’s scorer.

866: Days since Babych’s only prior two-goal game in the WHL. The defensive forward, who is in his fourth season in the league, had never scored a playoff goal before scoring the 1-0 goal early in the second period on Sunday.

The wait for his second post-season marker wasn’t nearly as long. It probably just felt like a lifetime.

Spitfires, Knights going distance

Either the MasterCard Memorial Cup host team or the defending champs will be ousted from the OHL playoffs on Tuesday, when the curtain falls on the seventh and final act of the Windsor Spitfiures-London Knights drama.

London, thanks in large part to goalie Tyler Parsons (Calgary), has fought off its last strike twice to require Game 7 in the Western Conference series. It is likely not hyperbole to say this is, within the realm of major junior, the most anticipated opening-round Game 7 that the OHL has seen in relevant memory.

That’s mostly a comment on the calibre of each team and a comment on the absurdity that the OHL playoff format pitted two of the top five teams against each other in the first round. The other two teams headed to Game 7, the Kingston Frontenacs and Hamilton Bulldogs, finished 10th and 11th overall.

Knowing how hockey logic works, the role the format has had in creating must-see TV between the Spits and Knights probably justifies keeping the system in place.

Bracket-busting Foreurs

Twelve months after being on the bitter end of one of the QMJHL’s greatest playoff upsets, the Val-d’Or Foreurs and goalie Etienne Montpetit have completed one at the expense of the Shawinigan Cataractes.

The Quebec League always seems good for one double-digit seed to advance. The 14th-seeded Foreurs did the deed Sunday, with Montpetit making 38 saves to wrap up a six-game series win against the third-seeded Cataractes.

Val-d’Or had 29 fewer points than Shawinigan during the regular season, but rode Montpetit and some airtight defence to wins in the final three games. Of course, that gap in the standings is far cry from the 40-point edge the 2016 Foreurs took into their first-round series last spring against Blainville-Boisbriand — which they proceeded to lose. That experience probably helped create some motivation for Val-d’Or, who got a team-high 10 points in the series from fourth-year forward Mathieu Nadeau.

Shawinigan is left to think of what might have been if 19-year-old Anthony Beauvillier had not proven himself capable of playing regularly for the New York Islanders. The Cataractes were sixth in regular-season scoring with 256 goals, but only got four in those three decisive games.

Rangers turn to McKenzie

From the looks of it, the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers made a smooth handoff of the general manager portfolio with Mike McKenzie officially taking over from Murray Hiebert late last week.

Based on what was reported, the Rangers set up succession plan for the 30-year-old McKenzie early this season. Hiebert, a longtime scout, took on an unaccustomed role and performed it ably over the last four seasons, rebuilding the Rangers’ cache of priority-selection picks. The cupboard was somewhat bare after 2012-13, the ill-fated go-for-broke season under Steve Spott, who’s now in the NHL.

McKenzie, for those wondering, is not the youngest GM in the OHL. Sault Ste. Marie’s Kyle Raftis, who is in his third season, has McKenzie beat by about four weeks.

Shakeup in Spokane

The WHL coaching carousel has whirred into motion, with the Spokane Chiefs and Don Nachbaur moving on after missing the playoffs. Nachbaur is the third-winningest coach in WHL history with 692 wins, including 261 with Spokane. Given that he predated general manager Scott Carter in their respective roles and considering how the season played out in Spokane, the move doesn’t seem like a huge surprise.

Canadian NHL team prospect of the week: Tyler Parsons, G, London Knights (OHL)

Like the guy in the Dos Equis commercial, Parsons apparently had a bad statline once just to see what it felt like. The Calgary Flames signing allowed three goals on 18 shots in Game 3 against Windsor. Since then, he’s stopped 80-of-87 shots to get the Knights back into the series.

There could be three goalies whose rights belong to Canadian teams competing in the OHL’s second round. The Owen Sound Attack (Michael McNiven, Montreal) and Peterborough Petes (Dylan Wells, Edmonton) are already through.

New name to know: David Noël, D, Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

The 17-year-old defenceman played a major part in the above-mentioned first-round upset, with seven points across six games. Noël, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound native of Quebec City, became more productive after coming to the Foreurs at midseason, with 18 points across 29 games after a trade from the Chicoutimi Saguenéens.

Incidentally, Noël is still helping his former team. With Val-d’Or advancing, the eighth-seeded Sags are assured of not facing the top-seeded Saint John Sea Dogs in the second round.

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