Some players are more fit for overtime hockey than others, and certainly Spokane Chiefs forward Hudson Elynuik is one of the those players.
Elynuik scored the Chiefs’ winning goal with 28.2 seconds left in overtime by forcing a turnover in the opponents end of the ice, slicing through the Rockets’ defense and putting his backhander in the back of the net to hand Spokane (11-10-4-1) a 2-1 win over Kelowna (15-11-1-0) at the Arena on Friday.
Entering his fourth year with Spokane, Elyniuk is playing this season with bigger goals on the horizon. The 6-foot-5 center was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2016 National Hockey League entry draft. For Elynuik, who grew up in a hockey family with his father, Pat Elynuik, playing 10 years in the NHL, being drafted was always his No. 1 goal.
“It was a dream come true,” Elynuik said. “It was the best day of my life.”
The Calgary, Alberta, native never watched his father play live, with him retiring in the year Hudson was born: 1997. But he still provided guidance and perspective for Elyniuk as his skill set started to grow.
“He was my idol,” he said of his father. “Always has been, always will.”
While Elynuik was the hero with the breathtaking goal, he wouldn’t have been in the situation without the performance of Chiefs goalie Jayden Sittler. The 20-year-old netminder stopped two-man breakaway opportunities for Kelowna, both of which came off of Chiefs turnovers in overtime, to keep Spokane alive.
“He was there for us when we needed him, and we needed him a lot today,” Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur said of Sittler, who made 35 saves in the winning effort.
Little was working for the Chiefs in the first and second periods, but Keanu Yamamoto changed that in the third. He poked a centering past Kelowna goalie Michael Herringer to tie the game at 1 with 13 minutes, 39 seconds remaining.
It helped spark the Chiefs, Nachbaur said.
“That power-play goal was what we need because we weren’t generating any offense at all,” he said.
Kole Lind scored Kelowna’s only goal on a power play 1:37 into the second period. Cal Foote and Dillon Dube assisted on the play.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.