SPOKANE -- Down 3-0 heading into the third period, the Spokane Chiefs rallied for a 4-3 lead, and eventually beat the Tri-City Americans 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday night at Veterans Memorial Arena.
The victory gives the Chiefs a 4-2 series win. They advance to the Western Conference finals where they'll meet the Portland Winterhawks.
The Americans took a 1-0 lead 6:03 into the first on an Adam Hughesman goal. After Spokane's Tyler Johnson took a 5-minute major and a game-misconduct for kneeing, Patrick Holland scored 2:42 into the second period and pushed the lead to 2-0. Holland then made it 3-0 at 8:54 of the second.
Spokane's comeback started early in the third period. A little more than a minute into the frame, Darren Kramer pushed across his fifth goal of the playoffs from Davis Vandane and Collin Valcourt. Tanner Mort's snap shot from the left circle made it a one goal game a little more than a minute later.
Blake Gal appeared to have tied it up 48-seconds later in a scramble in front of the net, but play went on after the referee had initially waved it off the goal. In the next stoppage of play, and after a lengthy review, it was ruled that the puck did cross the line and the game was suddenly tied at three just 3:13 into the third.
Spokane took it's first lead of the game later in the period. Kenton Miller flicked the puck past Drew Owsley and the Chiefs had a 4-3 advantage at 8:57.
Hughesman's second goal of the night at 12:39 came with Tri-City skating on a five-on-three power play. That forced overtime for the third consecutive game of the series. In overtime, Collin Valcourt carried the puck into the Tri-City zone and put a shot on net which bounced into the slot for an awaiting Koper, who buried it for the game-winner.
The Chiefs open the Western Conference finals on Friday in Portland (7pm). Game two of the series is Sunday in the Rose City (5pm). The series then shifts to Spokane for games three (April 27th/7pm) and four (April 29th/7pm). Game five is in Portland on April 30th (7pm), game six is back at Veterans Memorial Arena on May 2nd (7pm), and game seven is scheduled for May 3rd in Portland (7pm).