Riley Whittingham's first career WHL goal couldn't have come at a better time for the Spokane Chiefs.
Or at a worse time for the Kamloops Blazers.
Whittingham, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, broke a 2-2 tie at 7:30 of the third period and the host Chiefs went on to a 5-2 WHL victory over the Blazers on Friday night.
The Blazers (17-3-1) have followed a franchise-record 14-game winning streak by losing three of their last four games.
The Blazers will meet the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., tonight and then play the Winterhawks in Portland on Sunday. That will be the first meeting between the teams since Portland eliminated Kamloops in a thrilling seven-game second-round playoff series last spring.
The Winterhawks, who ran their winning streak to 10 games with a 9-5 victory over the Giants in Vancouver last night, will be in Kamloops on Friday.
Last night, the Blazers held a 2-1 lead in the second period, thanks to goals from right-wingers Jordan DePape and JC Lipon, when Spokane forward Mitch Holmberg tied the score at 2:46.
Holmberg, who had missed the last five games, scored just 19 seconds after Lipon had notched his 17th of the season on a power play.
Todd Fiddler, who also had two assists, scored Spokane's first goal.
All of which set the stage for Whittingham, whose goal came 43 seconds after Spokane had killed off a Blazers power play.
Moments after Whittingham scored, Spokane defenceman Cole Wedman banged in his first goal of the season - and his third in 68 career games - to give the Chiefs a 4-2 lead.
Forward Dylan Walchuk, a Kamloops Minor Hockey Association product, got the Chiefs' final goal, his sixth, at 18:24.
Spokane goaltender Eric Williams stopped 32 shots, 12 more than Cole Cheveldave of the Blazers.
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 5,242. . . . Lipon's goal ended an 0-for-17 drought by the Kamloops power play. . . . Lipon now shares the WHL's goal-scoring lead with Saskatoon Blades F Josh Nicholls. . . . The Chiefs (14-6-0) improved to 10-1-0 at home; the Blazers are 9-2-1 on the road. . . . The Blazers scratched F Dylan Willick (ankle), F Tim Bozon (one-game suspension), F Mitch Friesen (undisclosed) and D Ryan Rehill. . . . Among Spokane's scratches were injured veterans F Blake Gal and D Reid Gow. . . . Holmberg hadn't played since taking a high hit from Tri-City Americans F Lukas Walter, who drew a three-game suspension. . . . Saskatoon F Jessey Astles underwent surgery last night after suffering a cut to a wrist during a line brawl with the visiting Regina Pats. "When he went down, his own skate caught him across the wrist," Saskatoon GM/head coach Lorne Molleken told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPoenix. "He's going to have surgery. That's all I can tell you."
© Kamloops Daily News