In a game they dominated on offense, the Chiefs were pushed to overtime Wednesday night against Seattle before Spokane was saved by a 16-year-old defenseman.
Hudson Elynuik, who also had two goals in the game, found Ty Smith open in overtime. The defenseman took the pass and powered it home to give the Chiefs a 5-4 overtime victory over the Thunderbirds.
“We needed a win,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “We needed to feel good about ourselves.”
The Chiefs gave up a 3-1 lead in the second period and a 4-3 lead in the third, which forced the extra period. But Smith found the net in a game the Chiefs held a 51-20 advantage in shots on goal.
“It was a good defensive play by Ely,” Smith said of Elynuik. “It was a wide-open net. I was fortunate enough to get it in.”
Players mobbed Smith on the ice after the win that allowed the Chiefs (15-14-5-1, 36 points) to inch closer to Seattle (18-13-3-1, 40 points) in the U.S. Division standings.
“It was a huge division game,” Smith said. “To outplay them and end up losing would have been really tough for the guys.”
The Chiefs, who lost 3-2 to the same Thunderbirds on Tuesday, faced former backup goalie Matt Berlin.
The night looked like to become a long one as Seattle’s Donovan Neuls fired a perfect shot to a wide-open Keegan Kolesar, who hammered it past Spokane goalie Jayden Sittler to make it 1-0 at the 7:10 mark of the first period.
Then just 2 minutes later, Tyson Helgesen received a pass from recent addition Nolan Reid and Helgesen squeezed a shot between the bar and Berlin to tie the game at 1.
Kailer Yamamoto had a chance to give Spokane the lead with 6:02 remaining in the period when he was awarded a penalty shot, but he whiffed wide and the period ended with the two rivals tied.
The scoring exploded in the second period and it started when Yamamoto waited for the defense to collapse on him before firing a perfect pass to Elynuik for a wide-open, short-handed goal to make it 2-1 Chiefs at the 1:05 mark.
Then at the 4:53 mark, Elynuik skated free and fired a shot top shelf over Berlin’s right shoulder for Elynuik’s 14th goal of the season. The score made it 3-1 Chiefs.
“I tried to shoot it right through the guy and luckily it went in,” Elynuik said.
Seattle then scored twice in less than 3 minutes, with goals from Nolan Volcan and Zack Andrusiak to tie the game halfway through the period.
“We let them right back into the game trying to be fancy,” Nachbaur said. “We are still learning how to win. That’s why we are in ninth place” in the Western Conference.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan got a steal that set up Kailer Yamamoto for a 4-3 three lead in the third. But Seattle’s Jarret Tyszka scored at the 14:13 mark to send the game into overtime where Smith came through.
The Chiefs return to the Arena on Friday night to take on the Tri-City Americans.
“It’s really good to get these two points,” Elynuik said. “We needed them desperately.”
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