KENNEWICK, WA – Watching a lead slip away in the third period is hard. Watching your opponent rally thanks in part to two own-goals…even harder. Watching it come at the hands of your arch rival? Now that’s a tough pill to swallow.
Scoring three times in the third period, the visiting Spokane Chiefs (23-14-3-3, 52 pts) rallied for a 3-1 win over the Tri-City Americans (34-11-0-0, 68 pts) in front of 4,700 fans at the Toyota Center. With the win, the Chiefs have now won 6 of their last 8, including their last two over the Americans. It was Spokane’s first win inside the Toyota Center this season, which trails in the season series 4-3. Meanwhile, previously 26-0 when leading after two periods of play, the Americans saw their 13-game home winning streak come to an end.
Despite the icy roads all over the region, the 4,700 fans enjoyed watching rookie Brian Williams give the home team the early lead. After taking a pass from Jesse Mychan, Jordan Messier made a slick no-look cross-ice pass to Williams, who was streaking into the Tri-City zone. Backdoor, Williams buried the shot on Mac Engel for a 1-0 Tri-City advantage.
But, from there on out, it was a goaltender’s showcase, as Engel and Eric Comrie battled it out on opposite ends of the ice.
Following a scoreless second period, the Chiefs finally got on the board early in the third period. Just 5:08 into the third, Connor Chartier forced a Tri-City turnover, eventually firing a shot off on Comrie. Comrie made the save, but had the puck dribble free from his pads and sit in the crease, where Colin Valcourt was able to capitalize and tie the game at 1.
Nearly six minutes later, and on the final power play opportunity, Lady Luck again found the Chiefs’ corner, as Brenden Kichton let a shot go from the mid-point that deflected off the skate of Zachary Yuen and slipped past Comrie at the near post.
With less than 3 minutes to play and down by 1, the Americans got their chance when Marek Kalus shot the puck out of play in the defensive zone, putting Tri-City on the power play. But, just 15 seconds in, and during a scramble in front of Comrie, Spokane’s Dominik Uher shot a puck that glanced of the backside of Brendan Shinnimin and past a surprised Comrie to cap the scoring in the contest.
On the other end, Engel made some spectacular saves down the stretch, including stopping all 18 shots he faced in the final period, to secure the win. Engel finished with 37 saves to earn his 20th win of the season. Meanwhile, Comrie collected 20 saves in the tough luck loss, falling to 8-2 inside the Toyota Center. Tri-City went scoreless on 5 power play opportunities, while Spokane finished 1-of-6 on the man-advantage.
After suffering their first loss at home since Oct. 25, the Americans will look to rebound vs. the red hot Kamloops Blazers (33-10-1-2), who come in having won 8 straight and 110 of their last 10. Game time for Saturday’s first place showdown at Toyota Center is 7:05 p.m. The Blazers and Americans have split the first two games of their 4-game season series, each coming away with a 3-2 home ice win. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including online at ticketmaster.com, the Toyota Center box office, or all Fred Meyer outlets. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Mac Engel, Spokane
2, Eric Comrie, Tri-City
3, Brenden Kichton, Spokane