Liam Stewart gave the Spokane Chiefs a big lift in the second period and, for good measure, another lift in the third.
Stewart scored his team-leading fourth and fifth goals Wednesday night to spark the Chiefs to a 4-1 Western Hockey League victoru over the Seattle Thunderbirds at the Arena, capping three games in six nights between the teams.
The Chiefs, who outshot Seattle 43-19 for the game, were protecting a 2-1 lead when Stewart scored off a rebound with 57 seconds left in the second period, assisted by Adam Helewka and Calder Brooks.
“Helewka made a nice play and (Brooks) came out and supported me and had a nice shot on net, and luckily I was there for the rebound,” Stewart said.
Stewart completed the scoring at 13:38 of the third when he tucked a shot into the left side of the net with a nifty lift.
“I just kind of saw it open and kind of flicked it toward the net and luckily it went in and things turned out our way,” Stewart said. “We have to build off that.”
The Chiefs improved to 4-1-2-0 with their second win over Seattle 4-4-0-1 in two nights. Seattle defeated Spokane 2-1 in overtime last Friday at the Arena.
“We played really well (Tuesday) night, too, but we’re getting better every day,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said.
“But part of that is getting guys back in the lineup and having four lines at our disposal. … The injuries (early in the season) really hurt us and I don’t know if the typical fan would understand that.”
Helewka, who scored his first goal of the season, and Keanu Yamamoto added one goal and one assist apiece for the Chiefs. Brooks had two assists.
“I think Brooks had an excellent game tonight defensively and Liam and Brooks both had solid offensive games, and so did Adam Helewka,” Nachbaur said. “But those are our older guys, and they have to be catalysts each and every night.”
“This is by far the best game we’ve played all year for a full 60 minutes,” said Helewka, who missed three games with an injury. “All four lines were great, all our ‘D’ were great and our goalie had a hell of a game.”
Stewart assisted on Yamamoto’s third goal of the season, on a wrister after a Seattle turnover at 11:29 of the first. Helewka’s goal came at 3:10 of the second, for a 2-0 lead, as he took a pass from Brooks and beat a defender.
“I had some speed going out wide and I just got to the middle and was able to slide a five-hole on the goalie (Taran Kozun) when he tried to poke-check me,” Helewka said.
Before the game, Chiefs captain Jason Fram apologized to fans for an incident that occurred last Friday during the singing of the national anthem.
Three nondressed players disrupted the anthem with their shouts from the stands.
Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said Wednesday that the players were shouting encouragement to teammates at an inappropriate time, but he said it was inaccurate that the words were aimed at the singer.
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