by Ben Tole
February 15, 2014, Spokane, WA (ISN) –The Spokane Chiefs (33-20-3-2, 71 pts.) stormed out of the gates with a goal early in the first period and never looked back, defeating the Tri-City Americans (27-26-3-3, 60 pts.) 7-0 at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday night.
It was the Americans third loss in its last four games, dropping to 1-2-1-0 in the current five-game road trip through the Western Conference. With an overtime loss earlier in the night, the Prince George Cougars (24-29-2-5, 55 pts.) gained a point on Tri-City, sitting just four points back for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Keanu Yamamoto’s goal just 2:38 into the game gave the Chiefs the early 1-0 lead, giving Spokane all the momentum in the early stages of the period.
The Chiefs continued to pressure the Americans, out shooting them 8-3 in the first half of the period. Connor Chartier put the Chiefs up 2-0 at 13:16, finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing play with his 10th of the season.
Tri-City would gain momentum in the later stages of the opening frame, putting together several strong shifts in a row, pressuring to cut into the Chiefs lead. But, a too-many-men penalty with under 30 seconds remaining in the first period would prove costly.
Coming into the second period, the Americans still had 1:39 to kill off of the penalty, but the Chiefs would need just 32 seconds, as Mitch Holmberg scored his 48th goal of the season to put Spokane up 3-0.
The Americans struggled to get any offense going in the middle frame, recording just three shots despite three man advantage opportunities, while the Chiefs continued to pour on the pressure with 13 shots on Comrie.
Adam Helewka gave the Chiefs a commanding 4-0 lead at 15:37, taking the pass from Reid Gow on the 2-on-1 and snapping the puck past Comrie.
Soon after Spokane’s fourth goal, Jessey Astles would be whistled for a five-minute major on a hit to the head of Carter Proft, putting Tri-City shorthanded for the remainder of the second period and into the third.
Tri-City would kill of Astles’ major penalty, but continue to get itself into penalty trouble as consecutive infractions by Josh Thrower and Justin Hamonic put the Americans down two-men.
The two-man advantage would last just 10 seconds, as Holmbergs’ one timer just ten seconds later put the Chiefs up 5-0, 5:18 into the final period.
Evan Sarthou entered the game with 7:55 remaining in the third period after the Chiefs had taken a 6-0 lead. The rookie net minder made six saves, allowing one goal on Dominic Zwerger’s 12th goal of the season at the 17:12 mark.
The Americans will conclude its five-game road swing on Wednesday, when the team travels back into British Columbia to take on the Kelowna Rockets (46-8-0-4, 96 pts.) at Prospera Place for a 7:00 p.m. faceoff. Fans can catch the action live, via WHL Live, at the Americans’ official home away from home, Kimo’s in Richland.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Mitch Holmberg, Spokane
2) Carter Chartier, Spokane
3) Eric Williams, Spokane