Eli Zummack scored in overtime to give Spokane a 6-5 victory over Seattle at the Arena on Sunday night, extending the Chiefs’ win streak to three heading into the Christmas break while beating the Thunderbirds for the fifth straight time.
Zummack finished with his game-winning goal and two assists. Adam Beckman added two goals and two assists. Goaltender Dawson Weatherill stopped 32 shots.
Beckman poked the puck loose off a Seattle stick after the Thunderbirds held possession for the first 90 seconds of overtime. Zummack picked up the loose puck at center ice, skated in two-on-one with Beckman and used his signature toe drag to get the puck past Seattle goaltender Liam Hughes.
“It seemed like they were just killing time,” Zummack said of Seattle’s overtime tactic. “They didn’t really establish much time in our zone. They were just holding onto the puck. Every team has different strategies and I guess that was their plan. Beckman got the puck to me and created the two-on-one.”
The Chiefs are now tied for second with the Portland Winterhawks in the U.S. Division. It was the third straight loss for the Thunderbirds, who are last.
The Chiefs – already without Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Ty Smith and Filip Kral, who are at their respective World Junior camps – had to shorten their bench even more throughout the game. Riley Woods went down with an apparent lower body injury on the first shift of the game. He missed essentially the entire first period but returned for the second and third.
Defenseman Bobby Russell got a game misconduct 6:02 into the second period after taking a crosschecking penalty, and fellow defenseman Nolan Reid went out with an injury and missed the third period. That left the Chiefs rotating four defensemen: Noah King, Luke Gallagher, Mike Ladyman and Tyson Feist.
“There were a lot of guys who had to play some key minutes in situations they normally don’t,” head coach Dan Lambert said. “Rarely do you win games when you give up five goals but we found a way tonight and I thought our guys battled.”
Preparing for the last game before the team splits off and heads to their hometowns always presents a concern for a letdown. Lambert said that definitely factors in to how a team may play into that situation.
“They’re kids. They’re looking forward to going home,” Lambert said. “They probably packed this morning and they’re anxious. It’s part of junior hockey.”
Luckily for the Chiefs, a slow start didn’t cost them. The Chiefs couldn’t get a shot on net until the nearly seven minutes into the game and needed an early 5-on-3 power play to generate some scoring chances.
And that was after Seattle had already taken a 1-0 lead on an early Nolan Volcan goal. Beckman scored his first of the game to tie it at 11:39 of the first one a one-timer. Luke Toporowski gave Spokane a 2-1 lead on the power play at 15:44.
Seattle got goals from Matthew Wedman and Dillon Hamaliuk in the second. The Chiefs answered with a goal from Luc Smith to tie the game at three.
Beckman’s second goal opened the scoring in the third period. His shot looked like it rang off the crossbar but after a review officials ruled the puck had gone in and out of the net, giving Spokane the lead.
“It looked 50-50 to me. I thought I’d celebrate just to make sure they take a look at it,” Beckman said. “Somebody looked up top and said it did go in.”
The game continued to go back-and-forth when Wedman got his second of the night at 8:07 of the third. The Chiefs then put pressure on the Seattle defense and the puck squirted to Noah King at the point. He sniped one past Hughes to give the Chiefs a 5-4 lead.
Hamaliuk scored on the power play at 17:11 to tie the game again. That set up Zummack’s overtime heroics.
The Chiefs and the rest of the league will take a break for Christmas before returning to the ice Dec. 28.
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