The Royals were 21-1 on the season when they scored first, so my mind was a bit more at ease when Markson Bechtold scored his first of the year midway through the first period to give the Chiefs the early 1-0 advantage. Victoria would counter on the power play just under 3 minutes later though and the game was tied at one after the first. Spokane would start the second ready to go as Dominic Zwerger scored his 7th of the year 1:39 into the period to put the Chiefs up 2-1. Cole Wedman would then bang home a rebound of a Connor Chartier shot at 6:20 and suddenly the Chiefs took a 3-1 lead. Victoria would answer on a Taylor Crunk breakaway at 10:27 of the period as Spokane would lead 3-2 after two periods.
Like many teams in the WHL, the Chiefs have been virtually unbeatable when leading after two and they would be again on this night. Mitch Holmberg, who had scored two against Tri City in the previous game, would come alive in the third. He would score his career high 40th goal of the season on a great pass from Mike Aviani midway through the third to give the Chiefs a huge insurance goal and a 4-2 lead. Holmberg wasn't done as he would score from the slot on the power play 2.5 minutes later to put Spokane in control at 5-2. The Royals would score a power play goal in the final minute, but it was too little, too late, as the Chiefs claimed their 3rd win over Victoria in 4 meetings this year with a 5-3 win.
Spokane put up 41 shots in one of their better games of the season, and they needed too as Victoria had their 6 game winning streak snapped. The win also got the Chiefs within 1 point of Everett for second place in the U.S. Division as Spokane entertained the Silvertips the next night at the Spokane Arena. Spokane had won 4 straight this year over Everett, but every game had come down to the third period or overtime to decide the winner. The Chiefs had also won 16 straight from at home over the Tips, dating back to March of 2010.
Saturday's contest would start like the previous 4, with some tight defensive zone coverage and limited offensive opportunities. Fortunately for the Chiefs, goalie Eric Williams was there to turn away 10 Silvertips chances to keep Everett off the board. The Chiefs had some bad puck luck in the first as they failed to score on 19 shots, but had two hit posts, and had one goal waved off when the referee ruled Connor Chartier had prevented Everett goalie Austin Lotz from making a play on Liam Stewart's shot. Instead of a 1, 2 or even a 3 goal lead, the Chiefs found themselves in a 0-0 game after one.
Everett would claw back into the game, scoring on a Carson Stadnyk shot at 3:38 of the period to cut the lead to 2-1. Spokane's Reid Gow then took a double minor penalty late in the period to give Everett a 4 minute power play and they would take advantage on the back half of the double minor, scoring at 15:09 to bring the Silvertips even at 2-2 and send the game to overtime.
The Chiefs got a point blank shot from Stewart in the opening seconds of overtime that could have given him his second OT winner against Everett this year, but Lotz stopped the shot. Spokane took the momentum though and converted when Holmberg came down the right wing and hit an open Aviani net front just 56 seconds into overtime to give the Chiefs a 3-2 win. It was Spokane's 5th in a row over Everett this season and extended the win streak at the Arena over the Tips to 17 in a row over 4 years. That just seems almost impossible to believe, but sure enough, the results are in the books to confirm it. The win also allowed Spokane to tie Everett for 2nd in the division and 4th in conference.
Just as importantly, the Chiefs are now just 2 points back of first place Portland in the division and has Spokane right back in the race for the top spot in the U.S. Division. The Chiefs get a chance to rest and practice this week, as they only have two games this weekend. Spokane will host Kamloops at the Arena on Friday night and then travel to Seattle to take on the Thunderbirds on Saturday. Spokane is a combined 0-4 against these two teams, so the weekend will be a great chance to get a little redemption against them. I'll have the call on Friday's game on 1510 KGA beginning with the pre-game show at 6:30pm and the puck drop at 7:05pm. Saturday's game will be on 790 KJRB due to the Gonzaga game on 1510. Times will be the same as Friday, 6:30pm pre-game and 7:05pm puck drop. Here's hoping the Chiefs keep up the good work of last week and we hope to see you at the rink!