Beating the top team in the Western Hockey League on home ice is one thing. Doing it on the road is another.
Less than a week after beating the Tri-City Americans at the Arena, the Spokane Chiefs scored the encore they were looking for on Friday night as goalie Mac Engel made a season-high 37 saves and Colin Valcourt, Brenden Kichton and Dominik Uher made third-period goals to lead Spokane to a 3-1 victory at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
The Chiefs (23-14-3-3) handed Tri-City –also the top-ranked lineup in the Canadian Hockey League – just its third loss in 22 home games this season.
“It’s unbelievable – words can’t describe how great this feels to come into their barn and beat them,” Engel said in a television interview. “At this point in the season every game is like a playoff game … every game is a huge two points.”
Rookie Brian Williams gave the Americans (34-11-0-0) a 1-0 lead in the first that they carried into the third period, holding Spokane scoreless on five power-play opportunities in the first two periods – including four in the second.
Spokane progressively got better as the game went on, and the effort paid off 5 minutes, 8 seconds into the final period when Valcourt picked up a loose puck off the low wall and buried it for his 12th goal of the season.
Spokane’s power-play unit finally scored on its sixth attempt when Kichton fired in a shot from just inside the blue line. The puck deflected off two Tri-City sticks and slipped inside the left post past Ams’ goalie Eric Comrie at 10:56. Todd Fiddler recorded an assist on the play.
Uher scored the final goal – shorthanded at 17:20 – to secure the victory. The Chiefs’ import forward also scored a shorthanded goal in Spokane’s win over Tri-City last weekend.
Aside from Engel, special teams ultimately made the difference. In addition to earning the only power-play goal of the game, Spokane was 5 for 5 on the penalty kill.
The Chiefs are fifth in the Western Conference standings with a nine-point lead over Kelowna (19-23-2-3). They trail fourth-place Vancouver (27-17-1-1) by four points.