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Chiefs Hand Americans First Loss 6-5 in OT

By Dan Mulhausen | Tri-City Americans

SPOKANE, WA – When the dust settles from Saturday night, the Americans won’t have the win but they may have earned something just as valuable…confidence.

Twice down by two goals, the Tri-City Americans (4-0-1-0, 9 pts) roared back with a two-goal third period before eventually falling 6-5 in overtime to the Spokane Chiefs (1-2-0-0, 2 pts) in front of 8,686 fans at Veterans Memorial Arena.  The loss was the first of the Americans young season, who departed for their swing through the East Division immediately after the game.  The loss also snapped the Americans four-game winning streak, as they were attempting to join the 2007-08 Americans as the only other team in franchise history to start a season 5-0.

For the fifth consecutive time, the Americans opened the scoring in the contest.  Just as a power play expired, Kruise Reddick flicked a wrist shot past James Reid to get Tri-City on the board first.

But, 30 seconds into Spokane’s first man-advantage, Blake Gal connected on his first of two goals in the game, knotting the score at 1.  Only 19 seconds later, an Americans turnover led to a 2-on-1 Chiefs’ breakaway, which ended with Tyler Johnson picking up his second goal in as many games.  Then, just past the midway point of the period, Johnson fired a shot that glanced off the crossbar and landed right at the feet of Levko Koper who was parked at the right post.  It was an easy tally for Koper who, along with Johnson, finished the night with a goal and two assists.

One minute later, and responding with a power play goal of their own, Tri-City pulled back to within one at 3-2.  Tanner Olstad picked off an errant Spokane pass and took off with Brooks Macek in tow.  Olstad eventually got the puck onto Macek’s stick, who let a one-timer go that found the back of the net.  And, despite a 19 to 7 shot advantage in favor of the Chiefs, the Americans found themselves down just one headed into the first intermission.

However, at the 9:13 mark of the second period, Anthony Bardaro sent a nice give-and-go pass to Mitch Holmberg.  From the slot, Holmberg beat Alexander Pechurskiy high on the glove side to put Spokane back on top by two.

With the second period coming to a close, and serving a penalty for too many men on the ice, Tri-City found the spark they were looking for.  Deep in their own end, Brendan Shinnimin went to clear the puck and found Patrick Holland ready to break into the Chiefs’ zone.  Holland knocked the pass out of mid-air then took it in all alone on Reid.  After he got Reid to commit down to the ice, Holland lifted the puck into the net, making it a 4-3 game headed into the second break.

Two minutes after Tri-City killed off a 22-second 5-on-3 Chiefs’ power play to start the third period, Adam Hughesman was credited with a goal during a scramble in front of Reid.  After no signal on the ice but an illuminated goal light, the play was reviewed and overturned, tying the game at 4.  Then, one minute later and back on the power play, Hughesman connected again. With a blast from the right circle, Hughesman gave the Americans their first lead since early in the first period.

But, with time winding down and still trailing, Spokane coach Don Nachbaur pulled Reid during a Chiefs’ power play in the final minutes of regulation.  With one minute remaining in regulation and from his knees, Gal was able to slip a shot past Pechurskiy and send the game to overtime.

It wasn’t until 1:28 remaining in the extra session that the Chiefs got their first shot on goal but they made it count as Holmberg sent an innocent wrist shot in on Pechurskiy.  Holmberg’s shot just squeaked between the goaltender and the post to give the Chiefs their first win of the season,

Pechurskiy picked up 33 saves while dropping to 1-1 on the year.  Meanwhile, Reid stopped 25 of the 30 shots he faced in the win.  Both teams finished the night 2-for-5 on the power play.

The Americans will now kick off their six-game swing through the East Division on Tuesday, October 5, when they take on the Prince Albert Raiders.  Game time is 6:00 pm (PST) at Art Hauser Centre.  The Raiders (2-3-0-0) are coming off a 3-1 win over previously undefeated Brandon on Friday night.  However, Tri-City has won five straight match-ups vs. the Raiders including their last two visits to Prince Albert.  Fans can catch all the action live, via WHL WebTV, at the Americans’ home away from home, Kimo’s Sports Café in Richland.  The game will also be broadcast live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 5:45 pm (PST).

Applebee’s 3 Stars:
1, Mitch Holmberg, Spokane
2, Adam Hughesman, Tri-City
3, Tyler Johnson, Spokane

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