KENNEWICK – Blake Gal scored 34 seconds into overtime Saturday night to give the Spokane Chiefs a 3-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans at the Toyota Center in the second-to-last game of the Western Hockey League season.
Gal’s goal, his 17th of the season, was assisted by Brenden Kichton and Todd Fiddler. Gal has four winning goals on the season, all coming in the last 10 games.
Spokane (44-25-2-0) won for the 10th time in its last 11 games, including back-to-back victories over the Americans (40-26-2-3), who will be their first-round opponent in the WHL playoffs.
The best-of-seven series begins Friday at the Arena. Spokane, as the fourth seed, has home-ice advantage over fifth-seeded T-C and will also host Game 2 on Saturday.
The Chiefs won the season series 7-3-2-0.
Jeremy McIntosh scored his first career goal for the Chiefs, at 12:34 of the second period, to tie the game at 1.
Dylan Walchuk’s power-play goal at 5:55 of the third period, assisted by Kichton and goaltender Garret Hughson, gave the Chiefs a 2-1 lead.
Justin Feser’s 44th goal of the season, 2 minutes later, allowed the Americans to tie.
Hughson made 24 saves for his sixth consecutive win since Feb. 22.
Spokane is 19-15-1-0 on the road heading into tonight’s regular season-ending game at Portland.
The Chiefs are 2-6-0-0 against the Winterhawks this year.
Kichton leads Spokane with 63 assists and 85 points.