KENNEWICK – This time the ice held up. The Spokane Chiefs didn’t.
Spokane, in its first visit to the Toyota Center since the New Year’s Eve cancellation, saw Tri-City score three second-period goals, the first two 20 seconds apart, in skating away with a 5-2 Western Hockey League victory on Friday night.
The Americans’ second win over Spokane in seven days enabled Tri-City to climb past the Chiefs into second place in the U.S. Division by a point. Spokane nows trails first-place Portland, a 5-2 winner over Edmonton, by five points.
Spokane was trying to cap a December that had seen it win nine of its first 11 games of the month to claw its way into contention when it rolled in here on New Year’s Eve. But the game ended early in the second period, tied 1-1, because a hole in the ice couldn’t be repaired.
Friday night, Spokane scored first when Blake Gal collected his 15th goal 55 seconds in. He rifled a shot from just inside the blue line past TC goalie Drew Owsley.
But the momentum didn’t last long.
Adam Hughesman evened it for the Ams 101/2 minutes later when he collected a puck that took a quirky bounce off the side boards and beat Spokane goalie Mac Engel just under the crossbar.
The penalty-plagued Chiefs couldn’t get any sort of rhythm going, and the Americans took control with their second-period outburst.
Paul Sohor slipped a shot through traffic past Engle from just inside the blue line at 2:49 of the second, and Brendan Shinnimin scored the first of his two goals at 3:09. The second came on the power play at 9:41, the only man-advantage goal the Chiefs gave up on seven Tri-City power plays.
Spokane’s second goal came short-handed, captain Jared Cowen collecting his 14th at 16:14 to close it to within 4-2.
But with Engel off the ice for an extra attacker, Tri-City turned a Spokane turnover into Patrick Holland’s empty-net goal at 19:08 to ice it.