The Spokane Chiefs have squandered third period leads before. But Saturday night in front of 6,056 at the Arena, they went the other way.
Down 3-2 heading into the final frame, the Chiefs got a clutch shorthanded goal from Adam Beckman and the game-winner from Eli Zummack, who wristed a tough-angle shot past Winnipeg Ice goaltender Jesse Makaj. An empty-netter solidified a tough 5-3 win.
The Chiefs overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to get a win in a game in which they surrendered 37 shots on net. It wasn’t the best game for Spokane, but the Chiefs will take the two points in the standings.
“I’m really happy with the way we came back, but I didn’t think we were very sharp tonight,” Chiefs coach Manny Viveiros said. “But the way the kids continued to fight through it and grind through it was very positive.”
Cordel Larson had two goals, and Beckman added a goal and an assist. Lukas Parik stopped 34 shots, and Makaj stopped 27 for Winnipeg.
One shot Makaj will want back is Zummack’s game-winner.
Zummack intercepted a pass in Winnipeg’s zone and initially looked to pass. After getting in deep, he saw a small window over Makaj’s shoulder and took a chance.
“I was originally going to cut straight to the net, and then I saw a guy coming toward me so I kind of side-stepped him and took it to the outside,” Zummack said. “It was a sharp angle and I saw an opening there. Usually I’m not the shooter so I was a little surprised to see it go in, but I was definitely very excited.”
It was Zummack’s seventh goal of the season.
Winnipeg jumped out to a 2-0 lead after a Connor McClennon goal on the power play at 15:18 of the first. The Ice scored 41 seconds into the second when Reece Harsch sent one past Parik.
After a Noah King power-play goal at 2:33 and a Larson tap-in goal at 14:35 to tie the game, the Ice scored with 30 seconds left in the period to take a 3-2 lead.
Surrendering goals at the beginning and end of any period is often a back breaker.
“Those goals are morale killers and they were unnecessary on our part,” Viveiros said. “We made some mistakes and a lot of it was puck management. We got away with it and I’m very happy we bounced back.”
Spokane got great goaltending from Parik, who was under siege for much of the night. Winnipeg made a habit of trapping Spokane in its own end, but Spokane’s defense and goaltending was up to the task.
“Tonight wasn’t the prettiest, but Parik in net has been our rock for us, and we know we can rely on him,” Zummack said. “Our defense, I would say they’re the best in the league so when we’re hemmed in the zone, we’re never worried because we know what we have back there, and people are willing to block shots.”
Winnipeg came into the game with the league’s worst penalty kill, and not by a little. The Chiefs were able to score on one of two power-play opportunities and gave up one power-play goal themselves. Beckman’s shorthanded goal highlighted the importance of special teams.
The Ice have a long bus ride home after the loss. Winnipeg was at the tail end of its tour through the U.S. Division, going 3-2 in the five games.
The Chiefs pulled ahead of the Tri-City Americans for third place in the U.S. Division with the win. Tri-City lost to Kelowna Saturday.
Spokane is in Everett Wednesday and back home on Nov. 29 against Vancouver.
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