The Spokane Chiefs could have given up on their Western Hockey League playoff series, trailing Everett 3-1 in games and being 3 minutes away from elimination Saturday at Everett. But they didn't give up. Read story
I ran into Chiefs radio announcer Jay Stewart following the game. We did a lot of back-and-forth "Could you believe?" and "What about that so-and-so play?"
The final consensus was that you had to be at Saturday's game to give it full justice. One quickly written newspaper story just scratches the surface.
Some matters that may have been shortchanged in the newspaper story:
***There would have been no dramatic overtime win without defenseman Nick Charif's unassisted goal with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left. Charif, who had three goals in 38 games this season, punctuated a third period that found Spokane jabbing and Everett attempting to remain standing. The Chiefs had a couple of other legitimate scoring chances before the media timeout and finished the period with a 14-4 advantage in shots after being outshot 27-21 through two.
***Spokane could have fallen in an early hole after Everett was awarded two power plays during the first 5 minutes of the game. Everett had two excellent chances with the man advantage. The Silvertips reached the media timeout with a 7-3 edge in shots, and Garret Hughson made a fine save soon after that on Remi Laurencelle's shot. The Chiefs got a huge goal at 12:19 from Markson Bechtold, assisted by Keanu Yamamoto, to carry a 1-0 lead into the second period.
***The second period was difficult for Spokane but could have been worse. The big play that changed the tone of the game came at 2:38 when Chiefs defenseman Evan Fiala received a 5-minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct for kneeing a hard-charging Patrick Bajkov, who was assisted off the ice but returned later. Although Spokane gave up the tying goal to Carson Stadnyk early during the 5-minute power play, the Chiefs killed off the rest of the penalty and another that came 10 seconds later when Tamas Laday served 2 minutes for holding. "Those were tremendous circumstances to battle through, losing a guy to I'd say a questionable (call) and having to kill so many penalties that were so lopsided," Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur said.
***Everett appeared ready to deliver the series-ending blow when Brayden Low and Kohl Bauml scored 2:27 apart midway through the second period, Low with a shot that Chiefs goalie Hughson appeared to have stopped at first. But Chiefs overage player Liam Stewart, faced with the prospect of his final game, sandwiched an important goal between the Low-Bauml outburst. Stewart, with a great individual effort, found a narrow opening at the side of the goal at 11:14 to ensure that the Chiefs would trail only 3-2 after two.
***Spokane remained hot for the overtime period, but Everett counterpunched. Riley Whittingham, who scored the winning goal on a play set up by Stewart's speed, estimated that both teams had five attempts that could or should have ended the game. Spokane's Dominic Zwerger had a breakaway at 5:50 that caused an Everett official in the press box to exclaim, "It's over," and start to stand to leave. Somehow, the shot didn't go in. Laurencelle had two more scary chances, including a shot that hit the post at 6:20. Everett star Nikita Scherbak had a breakaway at 7 minutes that Chiefs defenseman/captain Jason Fram stopped with an all-out effort that bordered on a penalty. Hughson had to stop a good shot by Low at 11:59 and Zwerger had another good chance just a minute before Whittingham caused the Chiefs to erupt in celebration. "Both teams had huge chances (in overtime)," Nachbaur said. "Both goalies were outstanding and I thought the people got their money's worth tonight."
***Gratefully, the officials didn't let a power play decide the contest. No penalties were called after the second period, although Everett's partisan crowd sure wanted one when Fram tracked down Scherbak.