The Spokane Chiefs used a pair of late goals to pull away from the Tri-City Americans and beat their U.S. Division rival 5-3 in front of 8,867 fans at the Spokane Arena on Bud Light Opening Night. Mitch Holmberg scored three of the four Chief goals in the third as he helped Spokane improve their record to 2-0-0-0.
Tri-City got on the board early in the first as Justin Feser slipped an unassisted shot past Eric Williams just 11-seconds in. Spokane went on the power play a little over a minute later, but were turned away by a number of saves from Americans goaltender Eric Comrie.
The Chiefs finally broke through the staunch Tri-City defense with a goal from Jason Fram at the 12:01 mark with assists from Dylan Walchuk and Collin Valcourt.
The teams traded shots in the second before Spokane went on back-to-back power plays starting at the 7:02 mark. Blake Gal's shot at 8:35 hugged the goal line but never crossed. He was turned away by Comrie on another close shot in the Chiefs second power play. The Chiefs outshot the Americans 11-6 in the period.
Spokane wasted no time to earn their first lead of the game early in the third. Holmberg's first of the night came at the 1:02 mark to put the Chiefs ahead 2-1. Tri-City would draw the game even again on a Malte Stromwall goal at 5:12 that snuck over Williams shoulder and into the net.
The Chiefs answered quickly to pull ahead 3-2 at 6:20 with a Holmberg wrist shot on a Chiefs power play. The Americans refused to go quietly though, tying the game at three on a goal from Marcus Messier with less than five minutes remaining.
The Chiefs controlled the game from that point on, scoring twice in less than twenty seconds on a rebound goal from Mike Aviani at 17:05 and a breakaway from Holmberg at 17:24, his third goal of the game.
Spokane goalie Eric Williams finished the night with 23 saves on 26 opportunities while Tri-City’s Eric Comrie was 26 of 31. The Chiefs were 1 of 4 on the power play and 5 of 5 on penalty kills.
Brenden Kichton was handed the captains jersey for the 2012-13 season by Chiefs assistant coach and former captain Jon Klemm in a special pre-game ceremony.
The Chiefs hit the road for a game on Sunday night at 4:00 at Vancouver before they return home for two games next weekend; Friday versus Victoria and Saturday against Lethbridge.