Spokane skated out to a 5-0 lead in the third period before holding off a frantic rally from Prince George as the Chiefs defeated the Cougars 6-4 in front of 4,223 fans at the Spokane Arena Tuesday night. Blake Gal tallied three assists and Markson Bechtold scored his first W.H.L. goal as the Chiefs improved to 24-10-1-0 at home and 42-25-2-0 overall.
Spokane now has a two point lead over Tri-City for fourth place in the Western Conference and the home ice advantage that comes with it in the first round of the WHL Playoffs after the Americans dropped an 8-3 decision to Seattle on Sunday night. The two will play a home-and-home series this weekend beginning Friday night in Spokane.
Spokane outshot Prince George by a staggering 26-6 margin in the first on their way to a 3-0 advantage after 20 minutes. Adam Helweka got the scoring started at 3:43 after he stole an errant pass and beat Mac Engel glove-side for the unassisted goal.
Todd Fiddler, who missed the previous two games due to injury, notched his team-leading 42nd goal of the season at 15:35 with assists from Reid Gow and Gal. Spokane capped the first period scoring with a goal from Bechtold who slipped a shot past Engel five-hole on assists from Carter Proft and Helewka at the 17:54 mark.
The Chiefs couldn’t maintain their torrid pace in the second period as they managed just five shots, but they still extended their lead to 4-0 with a power play goal from Mitch Holmberg at 4:56 on assists from Gal and Brenden Kichton. Eric Williams turned away all 12 shots he faced in the period to keep Prince George off the board.
Spokane’s lead swelled to 5-0 at the 1:50 mark of the third as Mike Aviani beat new Cougars goaltender Brett Zarowny with assists from Jackson Playfair and Stewart Coyle. Prince George then rattled off four straight goals starting with a backhand score from Troy Bourke at 9:57 which was followed by another score from Daniel Gibb at 12:11. Zach Pochiro lit the lamp at 17:14 and then Gibb scored for the second time at the 17:41 mark to cut the Chiefs lead to just one goal.
Williams did the rest from there, turning away the rest of the Cougars shots, and Alessio Bertaggia added an empty net score at 18:07 with assists from Gal and Holmberg.
Williams finished 37 of 41 on save opportunities while Engel was 25 of 29 and Zarowny was 9 of 10. Spokane went 4 for 4 on the penalty kill and 1 for 4 on the power play.
Tonight’s three stars: Blake Gal (1st), Zach Pochiro (2nd), and Eric Williams (3rd).
The Chiefs are home again on Friday night at 7:05 PM as they host the Tri-City Americans for the Coca-Cola Regular Season Finale.
Tickets for all home games are available by calling the Chiefs office at (509) 535-PUCK or TicketsWest at (800) 325-SEAT.