by Ben Tole
March 14, 2014, Spokane, WA (ISN) – After falling behind 3-2, a goal by Parker Bowles with 31 seconds remaining in regulation tied the game for the Tri-City Americans (28-32-4-6, 66 pts.), but the Spokane Chiefs (40-25-3-3, 86 pts.) would prevail in shootout, defeating the Americans 4-3 Friday night at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Evan Sarthou made his second start in the last three games, turning in a solid 39 save performance, keeping his team within striking distance down the stretch despite being outshot 43-29.
The Americans jumped out to an early lead at the 5:05 mark, when Jessey Astles skated in on a 2-on-1 with Beau McCue, snapping the puck through the legs of Eric Williams, giving the Americans a 1-0 lead.
Tri-City continued to hold momentum during the first half of the period, outshooting the Chiefs 9-4 in the first 10 minutes.
The Americans extended its lead to 2-0 at 12:04, when Astles took the pass from Phil Tot and back handed it over a sprawling Williams for his second goal of the game.
Ahead 2-0, it looked as though the Americans were in complete control. But, just 20 seconds later, Keanu Yamamoto took a centering feed from Liam Stewart and beat Sarthou with a hard wrist shot.
Momentum began to shift following the Chiefs’ first goal, as the Americans took two consecutive penalties to close out the period. But, two good strong penalty kills held the Americans’ lead in tact after 20 minutes of play.
Spokane controlled play in the second period, outshooting the Americans 14-4 in the middle frame, holding Tri-City without a shot until after eight minute mark.
Connor Chartier tied the game at the 7:31 mark of the second period, firing the shot from the left faceoff circle which redirected off a body in front and past Sarthou, knotting the game at two.
Then after a Mitch Topping slashing penalty a minute after the tying score, Mike Aviani fed his line mate Mitch Holmberg with a between the legs pass to the WHL leading scorer, who then buried the puck in the Americans net for the go ahead tally.
After going without a power play the entire game, the Americans finally got its first man advantage when it needed it most, drawing a Mike Aviani hooking minor with just 2:08 remaining in regulation.
With Sarthou out for the extra attacker, Bowles took the pass from Topping and fired a shot passed Williams from above the right faceoff circle, tying the game at three with just 31 seconds remaining.
After a five minute overtime period failed to decide the game, the Chiefs and Americans headed to a shootout for the third time this season.
Tied 1-1 after two shooters, Tri-City had a chance to win the game with its third shooter, but Tot was turned aside by Williams.
The Chiefs ended the game in the very next round, with a Liam Stewart goal followed by a Williams save on Asltes to earn the extra point.
Both teams will travel to Kennewick for the 12th and final meeting of the season tomorrow night at the Toyota Center for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer locations, or online at ticketmaster.com.
Jack In Box Three Stars
1) Mitch Holmberg, Spokane
2) Jessey Astles, Tri-City
3) Jason Fram, Spokane