Last week was a bit of a rough one for the Chiefs as they suffered through a three game losing streak which matched their longest of the season. As a result, the boys have fallen 8 points back of Tri-City in the standings with just 10 games left.
The week started promising enough, as the Chiefs scored 7 goals in the first two periods on their way to a 7-3 rout of Seattle at the Arena last Wednesday. That win extended the team's win streak to five in a row and the Chiefs were just 2 points out of first place.
Friday in Seattle proved to be a much different story as the boys were shutout by the Thunderbirds 3-0. It marked just the 4th time this season that the Chiefs had been blanked on the scoreboard and the loss sent the team four points back of Tri.
The Chiefs had a chance to move within 2 points of the Ams with a win Saturday in Tri, but Tri scored 2 goals in the first 10:08 and held off the Chiefs 2-1. After a rough start, Dustin Tokarski played a great game, but the Chiefs were unable to score more than once on 42 shots.
Tuesday the Chiefs headed north of the border to face the Western Conference leading Vancouver Giants. Spokane looked good in the first period jumping out to a 2-1 lead behind Brendan Kichton's first career goal and Steve Kuhn's 8th of the year. Vancouver scored a power play goal late in the period to tie the game at 2. The second period decided things, as the Chiefs made two costly turnovers in their own zone that led to Giant goals.
It seems this season that whenever Spokane has a chance to get the puck out their defensive zone and don't, it ends up costing them a goal. It's the biggest difference I see with this team from last year. Last year, the team didn't make a lot of mistakes in their own zone, but when they did, they generally recovered. This season...not as much...as the team has made more mistakes in their defensive end...and they've generally bit the team in the backside at crucial times. It's an area the team is definitelyyy going to have to shore up if it hopes to make a run to the WHL title.
Wednesday, the Chiefs rode the efforts of the Drayson Bowman, Ondrej Roman and Brady Calla line on their way to a 5-2 win over Kamloops. Bowman led the way with a career high 4 goal night, while Roman and Calla had 3 assists apiece. Captain Justin McCrae scored a big goal in the third to put the game away as the team put an end to that three game losing streak. James Reid made some huge saves during the contest to pick up his 11th win of the season. It amazes me how sharp Reider can look after not playing in a game for 2 to 3 weeks at a time. He'll be a great successor to Dustin Tokarski.
Hopefully that win will spark the team to a couple of wins this weekend against Portland and Tri-City. Both games are must wins for the team if they hope to catch Tri in the U.S. Division. The Chiefs still have 3 head-to-head meetings with Tri and have to win all of them to have a shot at the title. Just as important, the Chiefs are just one point ahead of Kelowna in the race for the third spot in the Conference standings. Spokane still faces the Rockets twice in the regular season and have to at least gain a split in those games.
The Chiefs are a bit banged up on the blue line right now. Jared Cowen is out for the season with a knee injury, Stefan Ulmer is coming back from a concussion and Trevor Glass took a shot to the head and shoulder in the Kamloops game. His status for this weekend is up in the air.
Hard to believe there's just over 2 weeks left in the season, but this is the time to gear up and get the game headed in the direction you want it for the playoffs. Both games at the Arena are expected to have a full house...so hope to see...and hear you this weekend!
For Spokane Chiefs coverage...check out the Chiefs page on KREM.com.