Kennewick, Wa. The Tri-City Americans (27-19-7-1, 62 pts.) were looking to avoid their fourth straight loss, all against division foes. The Spokane Chiefs (30-19-3-2, 65 pts.) were coming off some late-game heroics against Everett last night to beat the first place Silvertips in overtime. Spokane would love nothing more than to knock off their eastern Washington rivals in their own barn. It was the Chiefs who were able to take advantage of several Tri-City mistakes to walk away with the 6-3 victory.
It’s usually just a matter of time before sparks fly between these two bitter rivals. Tonight, it didn’t take long. Just thirteen seconds to be exact. Americans forward Isaac Johnson threw a high stick on a Chiefs player which resulted in a double-minor. Spokane captain Tyson Helgesen took a run at Johnson in retaliation which is when Americans forward Nolan Yaremko stepped in. Helgesen and Yaremko exchanges fisticuffs for quite a while before they fell to the ice and headed to the box. After the smoke cleared, Spokane was left with a four minute power play. The Americans penalty kill unit, which has been real clicking lately, outshot the Chiefs 2-0 on the extended penalty including setting up a great two-on-one chance with Chiefs goalie Dawson Weatherill making a great save on forward Riley Sawchuck. Despite missing that opportunity, the Chiefs were able to get on the board first. Forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan fired a shot over Americans goaltender Beck Warm’s right shoulder at the 6:01 mark. Despite the early goal against, Tri-City was by far the better team in the first and they would be rewarded for their hard work. With a delayed penalty on Nolan Reid, Chiefs forward Zach Fisher was also called for checking from behind as he drilled Americans forward Connor Bouchard into the glass. Tri-City would have a full two minute 5-on-3 advantage. Halfway through that two-man advantage, Tri-City got in the board. Forward Michael Rasmussen set up in his wheelhouse right in front of the net. Defenseman Dylan Coghlan fired a shot from the mid point and Rasmussen tipped it up and over Weatherill. It was Rasmussen’s 20th of the season. Just under three minutes later, the Americans would take the lead. Forward Jordan Topping had a great takeaway inside the Spokane zone. Topping fed a pass to forward Morgan Geekie who patiently waited for Weatherill to set and then lifted a wrist shot top shelf. It was Geekie’s 21st of the season. Tri-City outshot the Chiefs 12-3 in the opening frame.
The second period was a whole different story for both teams. Spokane came out hard, attacking the puck and keeping most of the play in the Americans end. Just after the seven minute mark, they were handed a golden opportunity. With defenseman Dan Gatenby off for a kneeing penalty, Geekie cleared the puck from deep in the Chiefs zone. Unfortunately the puck clear sailed high and into the netting behind the Spokane net. It was a delay-of-game penalty. The Chiefs would have nearly a two minute 5-on-3 if their own. It didn’t take them long to strike. Just thirteen seconds after Geekie’s penalty, Spokane defenseman Ty Smith gathered an Anderson-Dolan pass at the right point and fired one home for his 9th of the season. Just 24 seconds later, still on the 5-on-4 power play, the Chiefs retook the lead. Forward Ethan McIndoe was able to get a shot to trickle just behind Warm who was down from blocking a Kailer Yamamoto shot. That was all the scoring that would take place in the second, but Spokane had definitely taken the momentum back. The Chiefs outshot the Americans 12-5 in the middle frame.
That momentum carried into the third period for Spokane as they set up a defensive scheme that the Americans couldn’t crack. As has happened so many times before, if you force Tri-City to the perimeter and clog the lanes, it seems to take away their steam. To add insult to injury, Anderson-Dolan netted his third of the night for the hat trick on a snipe from the left point right over Warm’s shoulder. It would give Spokane the two goal lead with just over eleven minutes to play. Tri-City would show signs of life just over a minute later. Defenseman Juuso Välimäki collected a pass at the point and fired a laser bar-down. Tri-City was back to within one on Vålimåki’s 6th of the season. The celebration would be short lived as just over three minutes later, Anderson-Dolan and Yamamoto struck again. The two found themselves with a two-on-one breakaway chance. Anderson-Dolan carried in the puck and saucered right to Yamamoto who beat a sliding Warm for his 12th of the season, and fifth point (1g, 4a) of the night. Anderson-Dolan completed the hat trick with an empty-better. It was a five point night for him as well (3g, 2a). Tri-City outshot Spokane 11-5 in the final frame and 28-20 on the night. The Americans went 1-for-5 on the power play, while Spokane was 2-for-5. Tri-City will begin its last long road trip of the season with four straight away from the Toyota Center starting Tuesday in Lethbridge. Spokane will host Everett at home on Sunday. The Americans and Chiefs will meet again in just seven days in Spokane.