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Yamamoto propels struggling Chiefs past Moose Jaw

Fri., Jan. 24, 2014, 11:16 p.m.

Spokane’s offense needed some sort of jolt.

The kid from Spokane provided the spark.

Spokane native Keanu Yamamoto scored his first winning goal in the Western Hockey League Friday night during the Chiefs’ 3-1 victory over Moose Jaw at the Arena.

The rookie’s rebound goal at 14 minutes, 41 seconds of the second period snapped a 1-all tie.

“It just popped out to me and I put it in,” said the Mead High student, whose family contingent in attendance included his brother Kailer, a Chiefs draftee. “It was pretty easy for me to score there with an open net.”

Eric Williams stopped 24 shots, holding the Warriors scoreless for the final 51:50, to improve to 24-10-2-1.

“They had eight shots after the first 10 minutes and then we were able to settle down and hold them to 17 the rest of the night,” Williams said.

“I think we were the Keystone Kops tonight,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “We got outworked. Our goalie won us the hockey game, plain and simple.”

The Chiefs had lost four of their last five games and had generated three goals in their previous four games. Yamamoto, who has four goals on the season, scored Spokane’s only goal in the last two games.

“I guess we’re just not working hard enough for our chances,” Yamamoto said. “I guess we have to work a little harder. Stick to the system.”

The Chiefs improved to 9-3-0-1 against teams from the Eastern Conference and 19-1-0-0 when taking a lead into the final period. Spokane (28-15-2-2, 60 points) stands fifth in the Western Conference and third in the U.S. Division, three points ahead of Everett.

The Warriors (13-28-3-5) lost their sixth consecutive game and finished 0-3-0-2 on their swing through the U.S. Division.

Moose Jaw dominated the first part of the game, outshooting Spokane 10-6 in the first period when Tanner Eberle scored his 13th goal 9 seconds after a Warriors power play ended. The Warriors finished 0 for 6 with a man advantage.

Spokane’s Riley Whittingham tied the game at 1 with a slap shot from the right wing at 6:06 of the second period, assisted by recent trade addition Hudson Elynuik.

Yamamoto’s goal was assisted by Jeremy McIntosh and Jason Fram, who picked up his 33rd assist of the season and 50th of his career.

The Warriors pulled goalie Justin Paulic (8-21-3-5) with a little more than 1 minute left. Spokane’s Mitch Holmberg picked up his league-high 43rd goal and 85th point on an empty-netter with 10 seconds left. Holmberg had no points in his previous four games.

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