SEATTLE – The Spokane Chiefs used a quick start and a fast finish to chalk up a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Western Hockey League action Tuesday night.
With the victory, the Chiefs (32-14-4-2, 70 points) took over sole possession of second place in the U.S. Division of the Western Conference. Spokane moved one point ahead of Tri-City, which lost 8-2 at Portland. The Chiefs are four points behind front-running Portland with 20 games left in the regular season.
The Chiefs’ start against the cellar-dwelling Thunderbirds (19-26-4-5) wasn’t quite as fast as they would have like but it was plenty fast enough.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead at the 5:04 mark of the first period on a short-handed goal by Luke Lockhart.
It turned out to be the only blemish on Spokane goalie Mac Engel’s scorecard. He finished the night with 26 saves in 27 attempts.
The Chiefs didn’t trail long.
Steven Kuhn notched his 18th goal of the season – coming at the 6:22 mark of the first period with the Chiefs on the power play.
Anthony Bardaro banged home his 11th goal of the season just 1:13 later and the Chiefs were off and running with a 2-1 lead.
The score remained the same through the second period before Spokane exploded for three third-period goals.
Tyler Johnson notched his league-leading 39th goal of the season to make it 3-1. Mitch Holmberg and Brenden Kichton picked up assists on Johnson’s netter, which came on the power play just 15 seconds into the period.
Holmberg added his 11th and 12th goals of the season – both coming with a man advantage – to wrap up the scoring for Spokane. Johnson picked up an assist on both goals.
Uriah Machuga had two goals and an assist to propel the Spokane Braves (20-25-1-2) to a 6-3 win over visiting Sicamous (16-25-2-4).
Brycen Fisher added a goal and an assist and Nick Redding had three assists for Spokane.