Although he stopped shot after shot sent his way, Garret Hughson knew his Spokane Chiefs faced long odds Wednesday when he skated off the ice with 1 minute, 40 seconds left.
But the Chiefs, after pulling their goaltender, used the 6-on-5 advantage to tie the game, force overtime, and ultimately defeat the defending Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings 4-3 in a Western Hockey League shootout at the Arena.
“If you look at the odds, I’m sure they’re not the best, but we found a way to do it,” said Hughson, who improved to 6-2-3-0 by stopping 41 shots in regulation, five in OT and all three Edmonton attempts in the shootout.
“He was just a wall out there,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said of Hughson. “He was seeing the puck, his rebound control was outstanding and he played really well. We probably don’t get a point, let alone two points, without his efforts tonight.”
Spokane left wing Adam Helewka had one assist and two goals, including the tying goal with 1:21 left in regulation.
“To our credit, we’re down a goal with a minute and a half left, we get a play set up and get a power play and we execute,” Nachbaur said. … “I’m proud of the guys. Just the adverse situations we put ourselves in (five Oil Kings power-play attempts in the first period), we overcame it.”
Calder Brooks, on the same line with Helewka, added one goal and one assist and the only score in the shootout when he deked Tristan Jarry with Spokane’s second attempt.
Hughson stopped, in order, Andrew Koep, Brett Pollock and Edgars Kulda during the shootout.
“You just have to play (the shootout) for what it is and we work on that in practice,” Hughson said. “It’s pretty tough to think, because at any minute they can change their minds. You can’t be cheating on anything.”
The Chiefs, 2-0 in shootouts this season, played their fifth OT game and their ninth game decided by one goal. Spokane improved to 7-3-3-0, 17 points, and moved past idle Tri-City into second place in the U.S. Division.
Edmonton (9-3-0-2) entered 4-0 on the road and 6-0-0-1 in its last seven games.
“They’ve had some turnover, but they have a lot of guys that won the Memorial Cup so they know how to win,” Nachbaur said.
Helewka took over the team lead with his sixth and seventh goals.
Brooks’ sixth goal, on a power play early in the third period, just squeezed past Jarry for a 2-all tie. Edmonton took a 3-2 lead with 6:34 left on a bouncer by Blake Orban.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.