It wasn't the Hollywood ending Bryan Bridges was hoping for, but he was all smiles after he played the final regular-season game of his distinguished Western Hockey League career on Sunday night.
Bridges stopped 23 of 25 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory over the Everett Silvertips at KeyArena.
"I was hoping to get a shutout over these guys in my last game, but it didn't work out that way," Bridges said after improving his record to 24-12-1-3. "I really wanted to play the final regular-season game of my career and I wanted to get a win."
Bridges, who holds the standard for shutouts with 21 in his WHL career, also made a statement that he is ready for the playoffs.
"Last weekend I wasn't great, but tonight I felt like I was right back on top of my game," Bridges said. "I know they had some guys out of their lineup, but they still had some good chances."
Everett rested leading scorers John Lammers, Peter Mueller, Brady Calla and Ondrej Fiala, a quartet that has scored 93 goals this season, but team captain Torrie Wheat, also playing his final WHL game, admitted it was still frustrating to lose the season finale.
"I just want to forget about the game, pretend it never happened," Wheat said. "There's no sense getting too frustrated about it. We had a lot of guys playing only the second or third games of their careers, so you can't put too much stock in it. We just have so many guys nursing minor injuries or battling sickness. I'm fairly healthy so I was the lucky candidate to play."
Everett coach Kevin Constantine admitted getting rested for the playoff series against the Tri-City Americans trumped winning the final game.
"We took the least 20 banged up guys and put them on the ice," Constantine said. "I don't really have any feelings about it at all. We needed to rest some guys and that's what we did."
The win lifts Seattle (35-31-1-5) to second place in the U.S. Division. Everett, the division champions, ends its season 40-27-2-3. Both teams open the playoffs at home Friday and Saturday. The T-birds play the Portland Winter Hawks and the Silvertips play the Tri-City Americans.
Four different players scored goals for Thunderbirds — Kyle Pess, Aaron Gagnon, Lladislav Scurko and Lindsay Nielsen.
Karel Hromas and Mitch Wall scored for the Silvertips, with Wall's goal the first of his WHL career.
THUNDERBIRDS 4, SILVERTIPS 2
— 1. Seattle, Pess 20 (Hickey, Stamler) 2:02 (pp). 2. Everett, Hromas 11 (Hamill, Harty) 11:05 (pp). 3. Seattle, Gagnon 24 (Pess, Scurko) 19:12. Second
— 4. Seattle, Scurko 17 (Scott) 14:49. Third
— 5. Seattle, Neilsen 5 (Hohmann, Jackson) 4:20. 6. Everett, Wall 1 (Potuer, Fransoo) 4:52. Shots on goal
— Everett 8-9-8 — 25. Seattle 14-4-8 — 26. Goalies
— Everett: Esposito (L,3-5-1); Seattle: Bridges (W,24-12-4). Power plays ( Goalies
— s-chances) — Everett: 1-7; Seattle: 1-2. A