When Spokane Chiefs 17-year-old goaltender Garret Hughson earned a win Friday night against Edmonton, it had been nearly 10 weeks since his last victory.
Hughson needed just 24 hours to get his next win, and it came in a more remarkable fashion.
Hughson stopped 32 shots for his second career shutout on Saturday night as he slowed down the high-scoring Kamloops Blazers 2-0 at the Arena.
The Blazers (41-17-2-3) had won 11 of their previous 13 games and entered the game with four players among the top 14 scorers in the Western Hockey League.
“When you get an opportunity to seize the moment and get positive results, it’s great for your confidence,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “(Hughson) was given a really tough assignment this weekend and he ran with it, and I hope he blossoms from that.”
Hughson, 7-5 on the season as a backup to Eric Williams, also shut out Everett in early November.
“I think this one means more,” Hughson said. “It’s a better team and it helped our team get back on track after we were sliding for a bit there.”
Spokane (36-24-2-0, 74 points) picked up four points during the weekend to stay one point behind fourth-place Tri-City (36-22-1-2) in the Western Conference. The Chiefs now lead sixth-place Victoria by five points.
Spokane’s Blake Gal and Todd Fiddler scored 24 seconds apart midway through the second period to account for all of the scoring.
Fiddler assisted on Gal’s goal, his 11th of the season, and Dylan Walchuk and Hughson set up Fiddler’s team-leading 39th goal. Hughson also had an assist during Friday’s 6-4 win over Edmonton.
“We were in our zone and it popped out to Walchuk, and Walchuk got it out,” Fiddler said. “The ‘D’ man stepped up on me and I just chipped it by him, and luckily it went in.”
Hughson stopped 14 shots in the second period and preserved the shutout by holding off a Kamloops power play that began with 6 minutes left. One Blazers shot deflected off the pole.
“When he had to make a save, he was there, big and tall,” Nachbaur said. “When a goalie looks good it’s because of his position, and he wasn’t out of position on any one shot.”
As for whether Hughson’s earned the starting nod, Nachbaur is just happy for the competition.
“Eric’s not thrown by the wayside,” he said. “He’s still our No. 1 guy, but the other guy’s proven now that we have two goaltenders, and that’s going to put some pressure on the older guy to play better.”
The Chiefs finished 0 for 5 on the power play.
The Chiefs have 10 games left in the regular season, split evenly between home and away. Spokane’s next home game is March 6 against Seattle.
Spokane will play at Everett on Wednesday. The Chiefs lead that season series 4-2-0-0.
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