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Silvertips end long drought in Spokane

Spokane Chiefs logo (The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Chiefs logo (The Spokesman-Review)

The curse is over and the chase begins.

Joshua Winquist scored twice and assisted on one of Carson Stadnyk’s two goals Wednesday as the Everett Silvertips snapped an 18-game losing streak at the Arena with a 4-2 win over the road-weary Spokane Chiefs.

Everett’s last Western Hockey League victory in Spokane came in late February 2010.

“I’m the only kid on our team who’s won a game here playing for Everett, and that was when I was 16, so it was a long time ago,” said Winquist, whose 45 goals this season are a franchise record.

The Silvertips (37-23-7-2, 83 points) extended their winning streak to seven and pulled within one point of Western Conference fifth-place Spokane (39-25-3-3, 84), which had its three-game winning streak wiped away. Both teams are attempting to catch Seattle (86 points) for fourth place, which brings with it home-ice advantage during the first round of the playoffs.

Spokane, which just played four road games in seven nights, may have the easiest road. The Chiefs play their final two games against eighth-place Tri-City. Everett plays third-place Victoria twice and second-place Portland once, while Seattle plays Portland twice and Tri-City once.

“We just have to focus on our game,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “There’s nothing we can do about what they’re doing. We want to make sure our game’s in order going into the playoffs and hopefully get healthy.”

Whatever the opponent or seeding, the Chiefs will open playoffs on the road March 21 because the Arena will be in use for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Winquist scored twice in the second period, tying the game at 2 on a 2-on-1 play at 12:27 and notching the go-ahead goal on a breakaway with 5 seconds left.

“Ivan Nikolishin made a good pass and we were able to beat them and pretty much get a 2-on-0,” Winquist said of the first play. “I gave Jujhar (Khaira) the puck and he even scared me by passing it back. … (On the other goal) Nikolishin wheeled and gave it to me splitting the ‘D’ and I just got a breakaway and put it in.”

“No disrespect to them, but I don’t think their game was special tonight,” Nachbaur said. “We had our chances. It was 2-2 and we gave up a huge goal at the end of the second period when we fell asleep.”

Spokane led 2-1 after one period, courtesy of Mike Aviani’s 38th goal, his sixth in the last four games, and Mitch Holmberg’s league-best 61st, which tied him with Pat Falloon for the franchise’s career record of 146.

Holmberg added an assist on Aviani’s goal to give him a league-high 116 points, passing current NHL player Tyler Johnson of Spokane for sixth place on the franchise’s single-season list.

Spokane held Everett without a shot on goal for the first 13:40 of the third period, but the Silvertips’ second shot of the period, by Stadwyk, scooted past Chiefs goalie Eric Williams for the final 4-2 margin.

The Chiefs won the season series 7-2-1-0.

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