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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Adam Helewka carries load as hot Chiefs defeat Moose Jaw

Josh Horton Staff writer

The Spokane Chiefs are one of the hottest team in the Western Hockey League, winning eight out of their last 10, and last year’s leading goal scorer Adam Helewka has been a huge help.

Helewka scored a pair of goals in Spokane’s 5-2 win over WHL Eastern Conference foe Moose Jaw on Saturday at the Arena.

“He’s another guy who can make a play, score a goal and open the games for us,” Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur said of Helewka. “We struggled to score goals up until the time he got here, but he’s for sure another stick that can score for us.”

Helewka, who was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL draft, returned to the Chiefs for their Oct. 29 contest against Medicine Hat and has been their main offensive weapon since. In 11 games, Helewka is tied for the Chiefs lead in goals with nine and fourth on the team with 17 points.

According to Helewka, playing quicker and faster is what he learned down in San Jose and its translating well with the Chiefs.

“That’s what you have to do to stick there,” Helewka said. “Everything is so much faster and quicker. That’s been the key to it.”

Both of Helewka’s goals came in a decisive second period, when the Chiefs outscored the Warriors 3-0 to build a four-goal lead. After Evan Fiala sneaked a slap shot from just inside the blue line through the legs of Warriors goaltender Zach Sawchenko with 31 seconds remaining in the opening period, goals from Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Helewka tore open the game for Spokane.

“We got more pucks to the net and we got the goalie scrambling a bit,” Helewka said. “All of the goals were low. If you shoot low, there’s always chance to rebound or its going in.”

The second period was a sign of offensive progress for the Chiefs, who at times have made the game more complicated than it needs to be this season, Nachbaur said.

“I think we are guilty at times of overhandling the puck and trying to get cute,” he said. “Tonight we played pretty simple. Shot the puck, hit the net.”

Helewka’s first goal was shorthanded and unassisted. His second was a redirect off of a shot from Jason Fram.

“I though Adam was great tonight. I thought Jason did a really good job tonight, too,” Spokane goaltender Tyson Verhelst said. “You can go down the list and any guy was really good tonight.”

Moose Jaw added two goals in the third period, but Spokane weathered the storm and coasted to victory.

“We’ll take it. We played a pretty good team tonight” Nachbaur said on the win. “I liked our game. I thought we competed hard.”

The win was the third straight for the Chiefs, while the Warriors have dropped four in a row.

Spokane has a favorable schedule ahead, as the Chiefs play their next two games against struggling Tri-City and Vancouver and eight of their next nine at home.

Nachbaur said he doesn’t want his team to overlook their upcoming opponents and to focus on maintaining their momentum moving forward.

“We are guilty of playing up a level to good teams and playing down a level to teams in the bottom half in the standings,” he said. “We don’t want to be caught by surprise. It will be a tough game. Both those teams are desperate trying to climb the ladder.”