Spokane ended Victoria’s 15-game winning streak in dramatic fashion Tuesday, as the Chiefs pounded the Royals 5-2 to fight their way back into the first-round playoff series.
Even with the three-goal advantage, the score was misleading. The Chiefs led 5-0 after two periods and held a 33-18 advantage in shots on goal. However, Victoria still holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series as both teams return to the Spokane Arena on Wednesday night.
“We came away from Victoria still believing we could win the series,” coach Don Nachbaur said. “We took it to the next level tonight. (Wednesday) is a pivotal game.”
The Chiefs got goals from five different players and goalie Lasse Petersen continually denied almost everything the Royals threw at him.
It didn’t take long before the announced crowd of 3,544 could sense Spokane was on its game.
Victoria got a power play about 30 seconds into the game, but it was the Chiefs who became the aggressors. Dominic Zwerger broke free and then put on a move that completely shook his defenseman. He had a free shot at Victoria goalie Coleman Vollrath, but Zwerger’s shot was wide.
About 45 seconds later, again during Victoria’s power play, Zwerger found Hudson Elynuik in front of the Royals’ net, but Elynuik could not get the short-handed goal to go.
Then with 12:34 remaining in the first period, team captain Jason Fram fired a shot that bounced its way into the net to put Spokane up 1-0.
“They are a really good team,” Fram said. “The win definitely builds a lot of confidence in the locker room to know we can compete with these guys. We came to battle.”
Spokane set up its offense with 2:21 left to play in the first period and defenseman Jordan Henderson smashed a shot from the blue line that again found the net to put Spokane up 2-0 at the end of the first period.
The Chiefs held a 17-9 shots advantage through the first 20 minutes.
As well as the Chiefs played in the first period, they outdid themselves in the second.
The period started with a double unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, meaning both teams played with four players for two minutes.
Spokane was awarded a power play with 12:26 remaining in the period.
Matt Sozanski attacked the net and had his shot bounce out. Seconds later Elynuik fired the puck and got it past Vollrath. The power-play goal made it 3-0 Chiefs.
“In the first two games, we felt like we deserved better,” Elynuik said. “Tonight was a very good effort by the boys.”
Then on another power play, Presten Kopeck got a rebound off a Keanu Yamamoto shot and Kopeck sent the puck home to make it 4-0 Chiefs with 3:50 remaining in the period.
Only 19 seconds later, Jaret Anderson-Dolan took the puck and fired a shot past Vollrath to make it 5-0. Curtis Miske and Jacob Cardiff assisted on the score.
“Tonight was a great team effort and we came out with a huge win,” Elynuik said.
Fram, who took a puck on off his left cheek, said the team would have faced a much tougher situation if it had fallen into a three-game hole.
“Tonight was definitely huge. To be down only 2-1, it gives us a lot of confidence,” he said.
The Royals finally got on the board with a Matthew Phillips power-play goal with 16:20 to play.
With just under two minutes left in the game, Scott Walford scored for the Royals to cap the scoring.
“It’s human nature that with a 5-0 lead that you are not going to play as hard,” Nachbaur said. “But we did a lot of things right. The penalty kill was good when it had to be. The power play was good when it had to be. We battled.”
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