Spokane won on both sides of the ice in a physical battle between U.S. Division rivals as the Chiefs dropped the Americans 4-1 in front of 5,007 fans at the Spokane Arena Friday night. Mitch Holmberg scored a pair of goals and Eric Williams stopped 26 shots as Spokane took a 1-0 lead over Tri-City in their best-of-seven first round WHL Playoff series.
The Chiefs looked unfazed by the playoff pressure in the first period as they lit the lamp just 68-seconds into the game with Blake Gal scoring on a backhand assisted by Cole Wedman.
Tri-City didn’t take long to answer though, notching the equalizer at 6:36 with Brando Carlo beating Williams stick side from the left circle. Spokane regained the lead for good at 11:15 as Alessio Bertaggia redirected a shot into the back of the net with assists from Brenden Kichton and Reid Gow.
Holmberg capped off the first period scoring with a power play goal on assists from Kichton and Gow at the 13:39 mark to give the Chiefs a 3-1 advantage. Spokane outshot Tri-City 12-9 for the period.
After combining for four goals in the first 20 minutes, neither team was able to put on one the board in the second period. Tri-City appeared to score on the power play at 18:07 but the goal was waved off after review. The Chiefs recorded 13 shots in the period and Williams turned away all seven he faced to keep the game 3-1 in favor of Spokane heading to the third.
The Chiefs’ final goal of the game came at the 12:26 mark of the third as Holmberg beat Troy Trombley just inside the right post with an assist from Bertaggia to put Spokane ahead by the final margin of 4-1.
Eric Williams finished 26 of 27 on save opportunities while Trombley was 28 of 32 for Tri-City. Spokane went 1 of 2 on the power play and 4 for 4 on the penalty kill.
Tonight’s three stars: Mitch Holmberg (1st), Brenden Kichton (2nd), and Eric Williams (3rd).
The Chiefs are home again tomorrow night at 7:05 PM with doors opening at 5:30 PM for game two. Tomorrow’s game will be a Buck Night with popcorn, hot dogs and Coca-Cola products just $1 a piece.
Tickets for all home games are available by calling the Chiefs office at (509) 535-PUCK or TicketsWest at (800) 325-SEAT.