The Spokane Chiefs started the post-Christmas break with a new attitude: win the week. That’s what they did this week, taking three of four games, with the third one coming Saturday night at the Arena.
The Chiefs outlasted the Tri-City Americans 5-4 and posted their first back-to-back wins of the season. Luke Toporowski and Erik Atchison each had two goals and an assist in the win. Graham Sward and Bear Hughes each chipped in with two assists apiece.
Manny Panghli—getting his second start in as many nights—stopped 34 shots in the win.
“We’re proud of the group. Coming back from break we wanted to reset,” head coach Adam Maglio said. “It’s not easy to come off a long layoff but the group has looked fresh and energized.”
A choppy, uneventful first period ended scoreless, but Chase Bertholet got Spokane on the board just 36 seconds into the second period when he took the puck from behind the net out to the slot and put his 12th goal of the season past Tri-City goaltender Nick Avakyan.
Parker Bell tied it for Tri-City 13 seconds into a power play at 2:23 of the second to knot the game at one. Toporowski got his first of the night at 18:51 when he was the lucky recipient of a fortunate bounce and was able to fool Avakyan.
The teams then combined for six goals in a hectic third period. Atchison scored his first of the night to make it 3-1 at the four-minute mark, and Tyson Greenway kept Tri-City within one when he scored at 5:45.
Toporowski’s second of the game came on the power play at 6:59 to help Spokane re-take a two-goal lead. But Tri-City wouldn’t die, and Ethan Ernst got his squad back within one at 14:06.
It looked like Spokane might put the game away when Atchison tipped in his second of the game just 35 seconds later, but Rhett Melnyk got Tri-City back within one with 1:08 remaining. The Chiefs were able to withstand the Tri-City attack and come away with the win.
Atchison’s performance was noteworthy considering he missed time earlier this season to an injury. Atchison said he’s finally feeling back to normal, and it’s showing up on the scoresheet.
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