SPOKANE -- Brendan Shinnimin had two goals and an assist to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-3 victory Saturday over the Spokane Chiefs at Spokane Arena.
The win keeps the Americans (38-14-1-1, 78 points) one point ahead of Portland (37-15-2-1) in the race for the U.S. Division title.
"Tonight, I thought, was our biggest game of the year," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "Not playing well last night and coming into a tough building, it was a great win.
"I thought our defense as a whole raised the level of their game. You can't win a building like this with out big contributions from everyone."
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In a hard-fought battle, the Chiefs (31-17-4-3, 69 points) took a 1-0 lead at 16:42 of the first with a goal by Mike Aviani, but the Americans pulled even with 9.2 seconds left in the period with a short-handed goal by Justin Feser.
Shinnimin scored his first goal of the night short-handed at 12:18 of the second, then added a power-play goal 51/2 minutes later for a 3-1 lead.
"You need your leaders to pick their heads up and play, and they did that," Hiller said.
From there, the teams traded goals.
Spokane's Liam Stewart scored short-handed to open the third to make it 3-2, followed Tri-City defender Sam Grist, whose blast from the high slot beat Chief goalie Eric Williams at 9:12 for a 4-2 lead.
Mitch Holmberg pulled Spokane within a goal at 14:54, and the Chiefs pulled Williams for an extra attacker with 1 minute remaining, but the move backfired as Jesse Mychan scored an empty-net goal to put the game away.
Adam Hughesman had two assists and Ty Rimmer finished with 24 saves and an assist for the Americans, who are 5-3 against the Chiefs this season.
With three points, Shinnimin moved to sixth on the team's all-time scoring list with 288 points, passing Stu Barnes (285) and Dylan Gyori (286). Hughesman is fourth (318).