The Spokane Chiefs had a pretty impressive hat trick this week – coming from behind to win three Western Hockey League games.
This time they broke through with three third-period goals against Everett to pull out a 3-1 win before 5,421 fans Saturday night at the Arena.
It was the second time in as many nights Spokane trailed after two periods – the Chiefs trailed 3-1 midway through the game Wednesday before winning 4-3. Last season they were 1-17 when trailing after two periods, the lone win coming in a shootout.
After giving away a power-play goal to Everett’s Cody Fowlie at 13:08 of the first period – goalie Mac Engel gave the puck away by passing it directly to Josh Birkholz for the setup – the Chiefs (5-2-0-1, 11 points) just went through the motions against the struggling Silvertips (1-5-0-2, 4).
“We need to get better through practice, bearing down in situations around the net when we have scoring opportunities,” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said after his team outshot the visitors 38-21. “Everything you do in sports is habits. Us over-handling pucks is a habit. But the will to win is there, we witnessed that this week. Coming from behind, we had instances we could have stopped playing but we didn’t.”
Finally, near the midpoint of the third period, the game turned around.
Darren Kramer had an easy tap-in from the doorstep after a pretty cross-ice feed from Brenden Kichton to tie the game at 1-1.
“I owe it all to Kich,” Kramer said after his sixth goal, one less than he had last season. “To tell the truth I don’t even know how he did that. It was a perfect pass, my stick was in the right place at the right time.”
Less than a minute later, on a power play, Anthony Bardaro set up Kramer at the post. Kramer missed the puck, but he brought it back off the end board and it slipped to Mitch Holmberg for the eventual winner at 9:41.
Kramer also tried to fire up his team with a first period fight.
“We wanted to get off to a quick start but we struggled again,” he said. “I had a willing combatant tonight in Jesse Mychan, and I picked a time just after they scored a goal. We struggled for two periods but we really came together quick for the third period.”
A goal, assist and a fight is called a Gordy Howe hat trick after the legendary Detroit Red Wing.
“We still go by that term,” Kramer said. “It’s actually the first one I recorded in my life. It was neat to get it done.”
Dominik Uher added a goal at 19:13 for the final margin.
Engel made 20 saves to help the Chiefs open the season 5-0 in Spokane with three more home games before they leave town.
Everett goalie Kent Simpson faced 17 shots in the third period.
“The game is 60 minutes, so you get to play 60 minutes,” Nachbaur said. “We hung around for 40 minutes. We had some chances in the first. We’ve got to learn how to score … but we hung around and then in the third we skated. That was eluding us in the first two periods, the tempo, but we spent enough time in their end to wear them down and they made some mistakes in the third.”