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Spokane Chiefs survive four overtimes to beat Giants 3-2

Teams battle in second longest game in WHL history with total time of 126 minutes

VANCOUVER — Blake Gal’s goal at 6:05 of quadruple overtime gave the Spokane Chiefs a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in the fifth game of their WHL second-round playoff series Friday night.

The Chiefs posted their third straight win and took a 3-2 series lead after dropping the first two games in Vancouver and taking two back in Spokane.

It was the second longest game in WHL history. The total time of 126 minutes and five seconds fell about 11 minutes shy of the record of 136 minutes and 56 seconds set by the Kamloops Blazers and Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C., on March 25, 2003.

Gal raced in on a partial breakaway and slid in a shot off Vancouver defenceman Mike Berube’s stick as Vancouver goaltender Tyson Sexsmith was caught going the other way.

Tyler Johnson and Drayson Bowman tallied for the Chiefs in regulation time.

Evander Kane, projected as an early first-round choice in this summer’s NHL draft, scored and assisted on Vancouver’s other goal by Brent Regner scored for Vancouver before a tired and disappointed crowd of 8,948 at the Pacific Coliseum.

The sixth game goes Sunday night in Spokane. If necessary, the seventh game will be held in Vancouver Tuesday night.

The clubs combined for 123 shots as Vancouver held a 64-59 edge. Spokane goaltender Dustin Tokarski made 62 saves while Vancouver counterpart Tyson Sexsmith recorded 56.

Tokarski backstopped Canada to the world junior title over the Christmas holidays while Sexsmith was cut from the Canadian team’s tryout camp for the second straight winter. In the previous two games, Tokarski had outshone Sexsmith, but the Vancouver goaltender was equal to the task most of Friday.

It marked only the second game in this series that Spokane has scored at even-strength. Both of Vancouver’s goals came on the power play as the Giants converted two of six man-advantage opportunities. The Chiefs went one-for-five.

Spokane delivered a much better effort after being badly outshot and outplayed in their previous two games here.

In the first period, Vancouver matched its scoring total over the previous two games and led 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, but the Giants would not score against Tokarski again despite clanging a few shots off the crossbar.

Kane opened the scoring on a power play just 2:45 into the contest. He lost control of the puck after he was checked by Trevor Glass but quickly retrieved it and roofed a shot over diving Spokane goaltender Tokarski.

The goal, Kane’s first of the series, came while Chiefs defenceman Jared Spurgeon was in the penalty box for cross-checking. The Chiefs lost Spurgeon briefly after a collision with Kane near the eight minute mark.

Spurgeon suffered a leg injury and went to the dressing room for some quick treatment while Kane was penalized for tripping. On the ensuing power play, Johnson beat Vancouver goaltender with a high short from a sharp angle to create a 1-1 tie.

Regner gave the Giants a 2-1 lead on another man-advantage situation as he pinched in from the point to put home a Kane rebound at 13:21. Spokane defenceman Brett Bartman was off for hooking at the time.

Kane rang a shot off the corner of the post on the best chance for either team in the scoreless second period. The red light came on, but a video review determined the puck did not cross the goal-line and the Giants maintained their 2-1 advantage after 40 minutes.

However, Bowman drew the Chiefs even at 2-2 on a harmless-looking wrist shot from the wing that fooled Sexsmith at 4:25 of the third period. It was the first even-strength goal of the game.

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