KENNEWICK -- It's always nice to go into the playoffs on a winning note, and the Spokane Chiefs will do just that.
Dylan Walchuk scored the game winner at 8:31 of the third period to lead the Chiefs to a 3-2 victory Saturday over the Tri-City Americans before a crowd of 6,102 at Toyota Center.
The Americans (50-18-2-2, 104 points), who Friday won the U.S. Division title and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for the upcoming playoffs, posted the second-best record in franchise history.
The 2007-08 team finished 52-16-2-2 (108 points) and won the team's first U.S. Division title.
With Edmonton beating Red Deer 7-3, the Oil Kings won the Scotty Munro trophy for the league's best regular-season record at 50-15-3-4 (107 points).
"It's been an outstanding regular season," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "It's so hard to win this division. We will start the playoffs on a high note."
Spokane (38-25-5-4, 85 points), which will open the playoffs against Vancouver, never trailed Saturday night.
"We had an emotional game (Friday) night (4-3 loss to Seattle)," Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. "We were upset we didn't win, but we came back and played well tonight. We were missing one of our top defensemen (Corbin Baldwin), and our young guys came in and did well on the back end."
Tri-City forward Brendan Shinnimin scored 134 points this season and won the Bob Clarke trophy as the WHL's regular-season scoring leader. With an assist Saturday, Shinnimin ran his point streak to a franchise-record 23 consecutive games, passing Colton Yellow Horn (2007-08). Shinnimin had 29 goals and 31 assists in the run.
"There have been so many great team and individual accomplishments," Hiller said. "It will be a regular season that won't soon be forgotten."
The Chiefs, who had nothing on the line Saturday, threw a wrench in the Americans' final home game of the season, taking a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.
Mitch Holmberg's blast from the right point at 1:42 put Spokane on the scoreboard, but its lead didn't last long.
Working on their first power play of the game, the Americans evened the score as Patrick Holland's shot from the high slot found a lane into the net past Mac Engel at 4:51. Holland finished the regular season with points in 20 consecutive games.
Spokane went out front 2-1 with a goal by Brenden Kichton at 13:00. A defenseman, Kichton led the Chiefs in scoring this season with 74 points.
The Chiefs outshot the Americans 14-4 in the first, including a short-handed breakaway by Dylan Walchuk with 15 seconds remaining, but Ty Rimmer denied him on the doorstep.
"I thought we got off to a slow start," Hiller said. "We stood around in the first and played like it didn't matter. Once we got our heads in the game, we took it to them in the second half."
Jesse Mychan, who missed 15 games with a broken thumb, pulled the Americans into a 2-2 tie at 10:18 of the second.
Justin Feser brought the puck into Chiefs' zone, but his shot ricocheted off a Spokane defenseman's skate and squirted out to Mychan in the left circle. Mychan gathered the puck and backhanded it toward the net, where it went over Engel's right shoulder and into the top corner of the net. It was Mychan's first goal since Feb. 11 -- also against Spokane.
The Americans had 16 shots on goal in the third, and pulled Rimmer with 1:18 left in regulation, but were unable to tie the game.
Rimmer finished with 22 saves, while Feser added two assists.
The Americans handed out their annual awards after the game. Shinnimin was named team MVP, the Applebee's Three Stars award winner and the Offensive Player of the Year. Zach Yuen was named Defenseman of the Year, Eric Comrie the Rookie of the Year, Justin Hamonic the Scholastic Player of the Year, Patrick the Most Sportsmanlike Player and Adam Hughesman was named the Todd Klassen Humanitarian of the Year. Robyn Sanders was named Volunteer of the Year, and CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company is the Corporate Sponsor of the Year.