KENNEWICK, WA (ISN) – Spokane’s Corbin Baldwin thought he tied the game as time expired in the 3rd period, but video replay confirmed the clock reached 0:00 before he even got a shot away, and the Tri-City Americans (5-0-1, 10 pts) escaped with a 2-1 win over the rival Spokane Chiefs (5-3-0, 10 pts) in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semi-Final series in front of 4,368 fans at the Toyota Center.
With the win, Tri-City evened the best-of-seven series at 1 game apiece, which shifts to Spokane for Games 3 and 4 next week. Meanwhile, Spokane had their five-game winning streak come to an end in dramatic fashion.
After shaking the rust of in Game 1, the Americans looked more like themselves on Saturday, controlling the play for most of the first two periods. And, much like they did on Friday, Tri-City tested Spokane starter, Eric Williams, early and often.
Williams appeared up to the task until the 13:21 mark of the 1st period. After Mason Wilgosh kept the puck in at the point, Brendan Shinnimin carried it deeper into the zone before sending a tape-to-tape pass to Adam Hughesman. From the right circle, Hughesman then blasted a one-timer past Williams for a 1-0 Tri-City lead.
Then, aided by three power plays in the 2nd period, the Americans out-chanced the Chiefs 14 to 7 in the middle frame, but came away with nothing to show for it.
Finally, four minutes into the 3rd period, Tri-City gave themselves some breathing room. A solid pass up from Patrick Holland allowed Mitch Topping to skate the puck in, then dish it off to Justin Feser. From the bottom of the right circle, Feser beat Williams with his second goal of the post-season, making it a 2-0 Americans advantage.
Tri-City continued to bottle up the Spokane offense for the remainder of the 3rd period, until an ill-advised interference penalty by Hughesman gave the Chiefs some hope late in the contest. On the power play, and with Williams pulled for the extra attacker, Mitch Holmberg connected just 19 seconds into the man-advantage, as Spokane climbed back to within one.
Following the goal, Chiefs head coach, Don Nachbaur, used his only timeout to rally his team and lay out a plan of attack. Once play resumed, Williams headed to the bench again, before a Chiefs’ icing forced him back into the net with under a minute to play. Following a face-off win by Spokane, Williams then hit the bench for a third time, allowing for the extra attacker to return to the ice. The gamble nearly paid off, but Baldwin’s shot was never in play, as the horn sounded before he got his shot away.
Rimmer finished with 23 saves on 24 shots to pick up his fifth win of the post-season. Meanwhile, despite kicking aside 31 of the 33 shots he faced, Williams saw his five-game winning streak come to an end. Tri-City finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play, while Spokane went 1-of-5 on the man-advantage.
Both teams will now get a couple of days to rest before the series resumes with Game 3 on Wednesday, April 11 inside Veterans Memorial Arena. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Tri-City finished the regular season with a 4-2 record at Veterans Memorial Arena, including picking up wins in their last 3 trips. And, since the start of January, the visiting team has won 6 of the last 8 meetings between the two clubs. The game will be aired locally in the Tri-Cities on KVEW-TV’s My Network 280, starting at 7:00 p.m. The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Bank Warm-up Show at 6:45 p.m.
The win ensured that Tri-City will host Game 5 on Saturday, April 14 at the Toyota Center. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Tickets will go on sale through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, and online at ticketmaster.com, starting at 11:00 AM on Monday, April 9.
Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Ty Rimmer, Tri-City
2, Justin Feser, Tri-City
3, Eric Williams, Spokane