If Mac Engel is on borrowed time, Spokane’s backup goalie is making the most out of his minutes.
Thrown into the fire when starter James Reid was injured in late January, Engel denied the Kelowna Rockets time and again in the third period Friday night in his 13th straight start as the Chiefs pulled out a 3-2 Western Hockey League victory before 6,101 in Kelowna, British Columbia’s Prospera Place.
After the Rockets erupted for two goals in 77 seconds early in the second period to surge into a 2-1 lead, Engel bowed his neck.
He turned aside the last 15 shots, several of the 13 he faced in the third period coming in the closing seconds after they pulled their goalie for an extra attacker.
The Rockets couldn’t make the man advantage pay off, but the Chiefs did.
Two goals came on power plays, including Brenden Kichton’s winner 50 seconds into the third period on a blast from the point.
Jared Cowen snapped in a wrist shot at 17:29 of the first period on a power play for Spokane’s first goal.
Levko Koper, coming off a hat trick Wednesday night in Everett, scored the second to run his season total to 30. It came off a Dominik Uher pass less than three minutes after Kelowna’s burst.
Engel is 7-6 in his stretch of starts, and Spokane has pulled within a point of U.S. Division leader Portland and is two points up on third-place Tri-City.
Jesse Knowler scored 4:45 into overtime to give the Castlegar Rebels a 2-1 victory over the Spokane Braves at Eagles Ice-A-Rena, and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 first-round series.
Jesse Collins scored for Spokane. Game five is Sunday in Castlegar, British Columbia.