When Tri-City and Spokane take the ice, it’s hard to tell if it’s preseason or the seventh game of the playoffs.
In hard-hitting, tight-checking affair, Spokane scored two third-period goals to beat Tri-City 5-3 on Saturday in the final game of the Red Lion Hotels Preseason Tournament at Toyota Center.
“We made some mistakes,” Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. “They were veteran players making mistakes. You expect that from the younger guys, but the veterans have to know better. I don’t care what time of the year it is.”
Tied at 3 going into the third, Riley Whittingham gave the Chiefs the lead for good at 1:35, taking advantage of a Tri-City turnover to the left of the net.
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Markson Bechtold extended the Chiefs’ lead to 5-3 as he redirected a shot from the point by Adam Power at 2:21.
The Americans had three power plays the rest of the way, including the last minute of the game, but couldn’t put the puck in the net.
In the second, Mike Aviani scored a pair of goals for the Chiefs, giving Spokane leads of 2-1 and 3-2, but each time the Americans came back to even things up.
With Tri-City down 2-1, Connor Rankin took a backhanded pass from Marcus Messier, motored into the zone, cut around Spokane defenseman Adam Power and put the puck past Eric Williams at 7:02 as he fell to the ice.
“Marcus has been great since the start of camp,” Hiller said. “He’s bringing an outstanding effort — we need more players playing desperate this early.”
After Aviani gave Spokane a 3-2 lead at 12:31, Brian Williams took a slick pass across the slot from Malte Strömwall and found daylight beside Eric Williams at the right post to tie the score.
In a first period that saw each team with just five shots on goal, Justin Feser found the back of the net from the high slot at 18:21 on the power play to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
Spokane answered back 53 seconds later as Connor Chartier, on a 2-on-1 with Collin Valcourt, put the puck in the top right corner of the net.
In earlier games Saturday, Everett beat Kootenay 3-2 and Portland topped Seattle 6-3.
Rankin took a high stick to the mouth by Spokane’s Jackson Playfair early in the second period and did not return. He lost a couple of teeth on the play. ... Seattle’s Daniel Wray is facing suspension from the WHL after a major kneeing penalty Friday against Tri-City. Wray, whose punishment is listed as TBD, hit Americans defenseman Drydn Dow at 10:59 of the second period. Dow did not return. ... Vancouver traded G Jackson Whistle, 17, to Kelowna for a third-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft.