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Chiefs roll past Portland Winterhawks, force Game 7

The Spokane Chiefs celebrate their 5-2 win over the Portland Winterhawks during game 6 of a WHL first-round playoff game on Monday in Spokane. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
By Kevin Dudley For The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Chiefs live to ride the bus another day.

Facing another must-win situation, the Chiefs kept their season alive, thoroughly outplaying the Portland Winterhawks and winning 5-2 to force a Game 7 in Portland on Tuesday.

Five different players had multiple points in the win and goaltender Dawson Weatherill made 31 saves. The winner of tonight’s game moves on the play the Everett Silvertips in the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

The Chiefs got goals 14 seconds apart in the first period to jump out to an early 2-0 lead.

First it was Jake McGrew scoring his second of the series on a one-timer. Eli Zummack made it 2-0 after deflecting in a Tyson Helgesen shot before the fans could even sit back down.

“Going up 2-0 early really gave us a lot of confidence, I think,” Ty Smith said. “It just kept going from there. We just took it to them.”

Smith scored what ended up being the game-winner at 7:52 of the second from the slot. His goal came shortly after a Filip Kral goal was waved off due to contact with Portland goaltender Cole Kehler.

Ethan McIndoe scored at 13:50 on the power play after taking a check to the head from Kieffer Bellows.

Portland got goals from Mason Mannek on the power play at 3:42 of the second and Henri Jokiharju at 4:09 of the third.

Luke Toporowski sealed the win when he went to the five-hole to beat Kehler at 16:39 of the third.

Weatherill came up big throughout the game. The 33 shots he faced were far fewer than the 44 he faced in Portland on Saturday.

“Dawson’s been awesome,” Smith said of his goaltender. “He really came up huge in the third. He’s been working hard every day in practice and continues to focus. He was there for us tonight when we needed him.”

On Monday, the intensity ratcheted up quite a bit as the game moved along, with emotions spilling over in the waning moments. Weatherill found himself in the middle of a scrum, had his helmet ripped off and got in some jabs of his own on the Portland attackers. He was given a two-minute minor for roughing.

But that’s just the way playoff hockey is, he said.

“It’s a lot faster, people are hitting way more,” Weatherill said. “Everyone’s pretty much just going to a new level.”

The teams combined for 52 penalty minutes in the game’s final three minutes.

The Chiefs were on the brink of elimination Saturday night in Portland but forced overtime in the final minute and won it in the extra frame.

They will play their third straight elimination game.

“What have we got to lose?” McGrew said. “We just play our game and the pressure’s on them. They had the lead.”