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Chiefs collect 4th straight win, thump Vancouver

The Spokane Chiefs play the Vancouver Giants twice per Western Hockey League season.

Adam Helewka might want to petition the league to increase the number of Chiefs-Giants matchups.

Helewka’s second career WHL hat trick Tuesday was one of numerous highlights as the Chiefs blasted the Giants 7-0 at the Arena in the teams’ first meeting of the season.

Helewka’s other hat trick also came against Vancouver, on Nov. 1, 2013, when he finished with four goals and one assist.

“It’s not just me,” said Helewka, who leads the team with 38 goals and 75 points. “It’s the guys I’m playing with, my teammates around me. But I guess I’ve had some luck against Vancouver particularly.”

Helewka has accounted for nine goals in his last seven games, including seven while the Chiefs have won four consecutive games by outscoring rivals 22-2.

Garret Hughson has been in net for all four wins, recording shutouts in two of the last three games. Hughson, who stopped 29 Giants shots, would have three consecutive shutouts if not for a 5-on-3 power-play goal that Tri-City scored Saturday with 15 seconds left.

“There were a lot of good parts to our game tonight, but I think the biggest thing is just we’re committed,” Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur said. … “We could talk about (Helewka) or we could talk about a goaltender who got another shutout. Our team is playing well and I think those guys are big catalysts to how well we’re playing.”

Five other Chiefs had a multiple-points game: Calder Brooks, one goal and three assists; Kailer Yamamoto, one goal and two assists; Dominic Zwerger, one goal and one assists; and Jason Fram and Liam Stewart, two assists apiece.

Helewka’s first goal, at 15 minutes, 18 seconds of the first period, began the Chiefs’ scoring spree and came shorthanded.

Helewka, at 5:11 of the second, and Yamamoto, with 7:37 remaining, had power-play goals as the Chiefs finished 2 for 5 with the man advantage.

Spokane’s penalty kill, ranked fourth in the league heading in at 83.4 percent, finished 4 for 4.

“It’s a big part of the game and the guys who are out there are competing,” Nachbaur said. “They’re blocking shots at the end of the game when it’s a 7-0 game.”

“We know it’s crunch time,” Helewka said. “We have to win every game and get every point we can. Everyone knows that and everyone’s buying in and working hard. We’re playing great as a team right now.”

Spokane (31-27-3-1, 66 points) solidified its hold on the Western Conference’s No. 1 wild-card and No. 7 overall seed for postseason, moving nine points ahead of idle Tri-City. The Chiefs remained seven points behind Seattle (73) for third place in the U.S. Division.

Vancouver (26-34-1-2, 55), which dropped to 6-24-1-1 on the road this season, missed a chance to jump past idle Prince George into third place in the B.C. Division, an automatic playoff spot.

Hughson honored

Hughson was named Western Hockey League Goaltender of the Week on Monday after registering a goals-against average of 0.67 and save percentage of .973 in three victories, including his first shutout of the season.


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