The Spokane Chiefs got an Everett-sized monkey off their backs Wednesday at the Arena.
Eli Zummack scored 2 minutes, 7 seconds into overtime, giving Spokane a 3-2 win over the Everett Silvertips, the Chiefs’ first victory in seven tries against one of their U.S. Division rivals.
Of the six losses to Everett coming into Wednesday, four were one-goal games. This time, it was Spokane on the right side of the one-goal game.
Zummack added an assist on a second-period shorthanded goal, and Lukas Parik made 32 saves in the win. Luke Toporowski had two assists.
The Chiefs came out with energy from the start.
“I thought we played extremely well. We got good goaltending tonight, which was good, and (Parik) made some key saves,” Chiefs head coach Manny Viveiros said. “We’ve lost a lot of tight games to them this year and tonight we grinded through.”
The Chiefs looked like they were on their way to a 2-1 win in regulation, but Ty Kolle scored with 2:57 remaining to tie the score. Kolle was part of a mass of bodies in front of Parik and Viveiros wanted a goaltender interference penalty called and the goal disallowed – and he let the officials know it.
Still, the Chiefs got the win when Zummack beat an Everett defenseman along the boards and skated in alone on Everett goaltender Dustin Wolf before sending backhander into the net.
“I was skating up the wall and all of a sudden I saw a lane, so I took it to the net,” Zummack said. “I saw Wolf was challenging quite a bit and tried to put it around him. The puck was actually rolling a little bit, so it was a little tough to get up, but it went bottom corner and went in.”
The goal was Zummack’s 18th of the season. Zummack is second to Adam Beckman in assists on the team with 35, and the two hooked up for a pretty shorthanded goal in the second period.
Just seconds after Toporowski was denied on a breakaway, Zummack found the puck and skated into the zone. He faked left, went right and passed back to his left side, where Beckman was waiting for an easy goal.
“I got the puck at the blue line and was skating and took a peek back because I heard Becks screaming for it,” Zummack said. “Whenever that guys thinks he has an opportunity he’s going to yell, so that was huge. Then I tried to outwait the goalie and then threw it back and Becks put it home. He’s good at doing that.”
It was Beckman’s league-leading 34th goal of the season and made it 2-0 Spokane. Ty Smith had made it 1-0 at 14:53 of the first when he sent a point shot past a screened Wolf.
Everett answered Beckman’s goal 29 seconds later when Jalen Price and the Silvertips’ fourth line got one past Parik.
Everett tied the game on the controversial goal, but the Chiefs quickly put that behind them and Zummack played the hero.
“I thought we deserved to win and I’m happy with the complete effort from everybody,” Viveiros said.
Leif Mattson was especially physical for Spokane and laid out Everett defensemen Wyatte Wylie and Jake Christiansen on separate plays just seconds apart. That energized the team.
“When he plays like that, he makes a huge difference,” Viveiros said of the 20-year-old Mattson. “The morale of our bench picked up a bit when he did that.”
The Chiefs are nine points behind Everett in the standings. The Silvertips are nine points behind Portland for first in the U.S. Division, and Spokane is 14 points ahead of Seattle.
That means a Spokane-Everett first-round playoff matchup is possible. Spokane eliminated the Silvertips in five games last spring in the second round.
But first, the Chiefs begin a four-game road trip Saturday at Tri-City. The Chiefs return home Feb. 1 to face the Kelowna Rockets.
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