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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane overcomes 3-1 deficit for OT win over Kelowna

Kevin Dudley Correspondent

When hockey teams put enough pressure on an opposing goalie, sooner or later the pucks will start to find the net.

For the Spokane Chiefs, it was definitely later, though not too late.

The Chiefs erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period and defenseman Jason Fram netted the game winner in overtime, as the Chiefs defeated the Kelowna Rockets 4-3 in Western Hockey League action Saturday night at the Spokane Arena.

The Chiefs put 34 shots on Kelowna goalie Jackson Whistle and had a number of scoring chances that would not turn into goals.

But that changed once the Chiefs put pressure deep in the Rockets’ end.

“We shortened the bench and went with three lines,” Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur said. “We got pucks in deep into their end and had (Kelowna) turn pucks over, which was key for us.”

Dominic Zwerger scored two goals for the Chiefs, with the second one starting the team’s comeback.

“I think we never gave up,” Zwerger said. “It was a character win. The team always believed an never gave up.”

Zwerger’s first goal came 55 seconds after Kelowna’s Gordie Ballhorn sent in a shot from the point.

The ensuing shift saw Adam Helewka stopped on a partial breakaway, but Zwerger was there to put in the rebound.

The Rockets got the only goal of the second period, a Justin Kirkland shot from inside the left circle.

The third period could have been doom and gloom for the Chiefs after Evan Fiala took a roughing penalty that seemed to be in retaliation for a hit he took moments before.

The Rockets’ Calvin Thurkauf scored on the power play to give Kelowna the 3-1 lead.

That’s when Zwerger scored his second of the night and his eighth of the season. Zwerger took a nifty behind-the-back pass from Kailer Yamamoto and tried to return it.

“I just saw Kailer going down the wing and yelled for the puck,” Zwerger said. “I tried to give it back to him in front of the net but I got lucky that it hit a skate and went in.”

Helewka tied the game at the 15:34 mark of the third period on a shot from the right circle. The teams then moved to a three-on-three overtime period where Fram took a feed from Jaret Anderson-Dolan and potted the winner.

The Chiefs got 18 saves on 21 shots from goalie Tyson Verhelst, who returned after missing time with an injury.

“I think he had a little rust on his game; you know, he’s been out a week and a half,” Nachbaur said. “He’s our No. 1 guy so it’s good to see him in the net and he’ll get better. It will take time to get back in the groove but he gave us some saves when we needed them.”

The Rockets came into the game ranked No. 8 in the entire Canadian Hockey League. This is the second time the Chiefs have beaten a Top 10 CHL team, as they also beat Red Deer on Oct. 30.

The win gives the Chiefs a 10-8-2-1 record and 23 points in the U.S. Division.

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