The Spokane Chiefs discarded the losing streak and the shutout streak Saturday against one of the top teams in the Western Hockey League.
Captain Jason Fram forced overtime with a goal midway through the third period and scored the winner in the fourth round of a shootout as the Chiefs stopped Medicine Hat 4-3 at the Arena to wipe away an oppressive seven-game losing streak.
Medicine Hat (35-12-1-2) entered the night with 202 goals, the fourth-best total in the league.
Spokane (24-21-3-1, 52 points) had lost 10 of its previous 12 games and had been outscored 18-1 in its last five.
Chiefs goaltender Garret Hughson made huge stops at the end of regulation, during overtime and in the shootout as Spokane, after being shut out in three previous games, snapped the Tigers’ six-game winning streak.
“It sneaks in your mind once in a while that things aren’t going your way, but that’s what you have to battle through,” Fram said. “When you get in slumps like this, it’s a mindset that you have to get out of and you have to battle through it.”
Hughson stopped Cole Sanford’s penalty shot with 28 seconds left to preserve a 3-all tie and send the game into OT. He added a big save against Tyler Lewington with 2 minutes left in OT, and stopped the Tigers’ final three attempts in the shootout to give a lift to the crowd of 7,512.
“(Hughson has) proven in the past that he’s really good,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “Even in our practices, he’s outstanding in the shootout, so he really gave us a chance tonight. But we still have to score some (shootout) goals, and we got two beauties from (Dominic Zwerger) and (Fram).”
Forwards Liam Stewart and Adam Helewka also scored for the Chiefs, whose forwards had been scoreless for more than 344 minutes, back to a Jan. 16 game at Everett.
Stewart’s goal at 17:29 of the first period was Spokane’s first score in more than 223 minutes, back to a Jan. 23 game at Portland.
Helewka’s team-leading 27th goal came with 1:38 left in the second period and allowed the Chiefs to retake the lead at 2-1. A lucky bounce off the boards sent the puck to Helewka, who was alone out front.
The Tigers sensed a defensive lapse 17 seconds later and tied the game on Matthew Bradley’s goal. Medicine Hat took a 3-2 lead early in the third when Zach Fischer’s shot deflected off a Chiefs’ defender, the second such break for the Tigers on the night. The Tigers went on a power play 39 seconds later, but Hughson and the Chiefs held tough.
“Three pucks went through our goalie and two deflected off our skates,” Nachbaur said. “Those are moments when you can shut it down. After they scored their third goal and we took a penalty, I thought we were starting to unravel there, but our penalty kill was very good.”
Two Tigers’ cross-checking penalties gave Spokane a 5-on-3 power play with 9:23 left. Fram scored 27 seconds later, aided by Markson Bechtold blocking goalie Marek Langhamer’s view.
“Obviously, our power play hasn’t been the greatest throughout the year, but today it really helped us get back into the game,” Fram said.
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