The Spokane Chiefs and Mitch Holmberg spent time Saturday night where both have been comfortable all season.
For the Chiefs, it was the friendly confines of the Spokane Arena. For Mitch Holmberg, it was the score sheet.
Holmberg continued his torrid year by scoring goals No. 52, 53 and 54 of the season in the first period alone. The Chiefs cruised to a 6-3 win over the Kootenay Ice to improve to 19-10-1-1 at home on the season.
Carter Proft added two goals in the third period. The Chiefs avenged a shootout loss against the Ice on Friday night.
“It was a really good rebound game,” head coach Don Nachbaur said. “We were awful last night. I think there was a lot of incentive and a lot of heart shown tonight.”
Holmberg’s first goal came after Kootenay goaltender Mackenzie Skapski gave up a rebound off Spokane defenseman Jeff Rayman’s shot from the point. Holmberg was all alone on the right side of the crease and took advantage of the wide open net.
Holmberg then scored on a one-timer 14 seconds into a power play at 18:01 off a feed from defenseman Reid Gow. He completed the hat trick on a nifty wraparound with 42 seconds left in the first period.
“I think there was some great plays out there,” Holmberg said. “Honestly, the first one there was a pretty nice play by Rayman on the point and on the other two I was just trying to get to the net.”
Marcus Messier added to the Chiefs first period total 23 seconds later with a goal of his own. That goal chased Skapski and Wyatt Hoflin took over in net for Kootenay the rest of the way. Kootenay managed only four shots on goal in the first period.
The Ice came to life in the second period when Zach Franko put Kootenay on the board with a goal at the 11:15 mark out of a scramble in front of the net.
The Ice continued to pressure Spokane, getting 14 shots on goal in the second period alone.
The Ice added goals from Tim Bozon 2:57 into the third period and a Jagger Dirk 18:55 into the third.
Spokane goaltender Eric Williams made 33 saves while facing 36 shots.
The Chiefs will end a streak of three games in three nights tonight when they play the Kamloops Blazers at home. Even with little time to rest, Nachbaur isn’t worried about his team.
“This is the Western Hockey League,” he said. “Every team goes through it. (Kamloops) has played three games in three nights too and they’ve been on a bus for three days. We have no excuses.”
With the win and the two points, the Chiefs have officially secured a playoff berth.