Chiefs Squeak Past T-Birds 3-2 in a Shootout

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(ISN) – KENT  – The Spokane Chiefs defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds Tuesday night, winning 3-2 in a shootout. The loss makes Seattle 4-3-0-1 this season, while Spokane improves to 3-1-2-0.

The Chiefs appeared to score 31 seconds into overtime. Adam Helewka’s shot made its way through a pile of bodies in the crease and bounced off the inside of the crossbar. The no-goal call stood upon review, however, extending the game. It was the best chance of the scoreless overtime.

Shots in overtime were 4-1 Spokane and faceoffs were 5-2 Spokane.

Helewka scored the only goal of the shootout on the Chief’s second shot. Helewka went wide on Kozun and got the goalie on his belly before flipping the puck in to win the game.

Taran Kozun made his seventh appearance for the T-Birds and took the loss after stopping 32 of 34 shots. Kozun’s loss makes his record 4-2-0-1. In goal for Spokane was Garret Hughson, who had 22 saves on 24 shots and stopped all three Seattle shooters in the shootout to get the win. Hughson is now 3-1-2-0 on the season.

A two-man rush from Mathew Barzal and Ryan Gropp almost created a goal at 1:15. Barzal beat the defense to a loose puck near the blue line, resulting in a two-on-one chance. Barzal’s pass made it onto Gropp’s stick as Hughson slid across. Unfortunately, Gropp’s pass back was too far behind Barzal and went harmlessly to the side boards.

Kozun stopped a two-on-one chance at 6:40 that ended with a scrum and offsetting penalties. The Seattle goalie stood tall and gloved a Devon McAndrews shot before bodies began to pile up in the crease. The ensuing sequence of four-on-four hockey saw multiple rushes for Seattle, including two by Ryan Gropp that were snuffed out by the defense.

Tensions boiled over as the period wound to its close. After a series of scrums and big hits, Seattle was given a major penalty, putting them a man down for five minutes.

Despite the disadvantage, Barzal scored the game’s first goal to give Seattle a 1-0 lead. The center pushed the puck past the defense and beat them to it to create a breakaway. Barzal then deked to his left and flipped a backhand shot into the net at 18:22 for the shorthanded goal. There were no assists. The goal gave Barzal a four-game goal streak to go along with his five-game point streak.

Shots in the first period of play were 10-4 Spokane and faceoffs were 10-8 Spokane. Even so, the T-Birds led 1-0 after 20 with another 2:25 of shorthanded play coming for them at the beginning of the second.

Spokane scored 3:51 into the second period to tie the game. A rush by Kailer Yamamoto led to a pass through the top of the crease as the winger flew past the net. The puck found Blair Oneschuk on the other side, who was able to get the shot off before Kozun could complete his slide over to make it 1-1. Yamamoto had the only assist.

Gropp gave the home team the lead again at 11:20. Gropp rushed up the ice on the outside before cutting into the slot and letting loose with a shot. The puck burned a trail over Hughson shoulder and into the top of the net, making it 2-1. There were no assists on the goal. Gropp’s goal extended his point streak to five games, matching Barzal’s current streak for the T-Birds’ best of the season.

Whittingham tied the game once again with 4:31 left in the second period. Whittingham’s power-play goal came when Calder Brooks zipped a pass from the post to Whittingham on the other side of the net. Kozun made a valiant effort to get across the crease in time but it was for naught, with Whittingham getting his second of the season to make it 2-2. Brooks and Helewka had the assists.

The second period ended with Seattle a man down for another 48 seconds. Shots were 11-8 Seattle. Faceoffs were 11-9 Spokane.

Scott Eansor had a breakaway shorthanded chance in the dying embers of Spokane’s power play, only to see Hughson stop the center stick-side. The attack ended Seattle’s shorthanded time, putting the game back at five-on-five.

The open ice afforded by offsetting penalties created opportunities for offense with 2:53 left in the game. The T-Birds, playing with just three available defensemen, had to fight off four shots during this stretch of four-on-four hockey. A late push sparked by an Eansor takeaway wasn’t enough to give the home team the lead and regulation ended with the teams still deadlocked at 2-2.

Shots in the third period were 12-8 Spokane. Faceoffs were tied, with each team winning nine.

The T-Birds visit Spokane on Wednesday to play the Chiefs at 7:00 pm. Seattle then hosts the Prince George Cougars on Friday at 7:35 pm and the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday at 7:05 pm.