It was a week that began with a bang and ended with a thud...in games against the same team! In the end, the Chiefs took two of three games on the week, and if you do that consistently, you're doing pretty well.
The Chiefs started off with the hottest team in the WHL, the Everett Silvertips. Everett had won 14 in a row coming in, matching the longest winning streak of the season in the league. Spokane had lost all 4 meetings coming in, including three straight one goal losses in Everett. It became pretty clear early in Wednesday's meeting that the Chiefs were not going down for the fifth straight time.
Tyler Johnson broke the puck out of the Chiefs zone and led a 2-1 breakout with Levko Koper to give Spokane an early advantage. Johnson hit Koper on the left wing, then Koper put the puck right on Johnson's tape net front, and Johnson put it home for his 22nd goal of the year 6:59 into the game to make it 1-0 Chiefs.
Everett would counter with a goal almost 6 minutes later to tie the game at one after the first period. It was a fairly evenly played first, but Spokane showed good speed and looked to be a hungry team after the puck in the first 20 minutes. Those factors would start to take the game over in the second period. Despite neither team scoring, the Chiefs outshot the Silvertips 14-4 and were definitely controlling the game.
In the third, the Chiefs would finally break through on the scoreboard again, as Kyle Beach muscled a shot in from the left goal line midway through the period to make it 2-1 Chiefs. Johnson's shot net front was turned away by Tips goalie Kent Simpson, but Jared Cowen kept the puck alive, shoveling to the left side where Beach lifted the puck over Simpson for the eventual game winner.
Spokane did not give up a power play to Everett until the final 1:18 on a horrible call against Cowen for tripping. Despite the 6-on-4 advantage for the Tips in the final minute, the Chiefs kept the puck out of harms way and defeated Everett for the first time this year 2-1. The win also snapped Everett's 14 game win streak and brought the Chiefs within five points of the second place Tips in the U.S. Division.
Next up for the Chiefs were the Kamloops Blazers, as they came to town to help the Chiefs close out their four game homestand. To say the boys were looking forward to this tilt was a bit of an understatement. Kamloops had embarrassed Spokane two weeks earlier 8-1 up north, and the Chiefs were chomping at the bit for a little revenge.
It became very obvious early on that the Chiefs were going to get some, as they jumped out to a quick 2-0 after one period. Both goals came on the power play, as it was a premonition of what was to come on the night for Spokane's power play unit. Jared Spurgeon got the scoring started with a blast from the right circle to make it 1-0 12:46 into the game. Jared Cowen would then tip a Mitch Wahl shot from the point at 17:15 to make it 2-0 Chiefs.
Kamloops would get on the board with a power play goal of their own early in the second to draw within 2-1. Goalie James Reid then made a huge save on the Blazers Dylan Willick while the two teams were skating 4-on-4, and Spokane would turn the puck up ice and score on a Tyler Johnson shot from the inner left circle at 16:06 to make it 3-1 Spokane. It was a key moment to the game, as the Chiefs would use the momentum of Johnson's goal to score their third power play goal of the game in the final minute of the second period. It was Johnson who would do the damage again, as his snipe from the right circle beat Blazer goalie Curtis Mucha to make it 4-1 Spokane after two.
All that was left after Johnson's second goal was the margin of victory, as Spurgeon would put home his second of the night, on the power play again, late in the third period to cap a 5-1 Chiefs win. Spurgeon and Johnson each ended up with a two goals and an assist, while Wahl and Kyle Beach had 3 assists apiece. Spokane's four power play goals were also the most the Chiefs had scored in a game this season.
The win also moved the boys into third in the division, just three points back of second place Portland and Everett. Spokane then headed to Everett Saturday to take on the Silvertips in a rematch of Wednesday's game. The Tips made in clear early that they were out for a bit of revenge, as they jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first. Everett's line of Kellan Tochkin, Tyler Maxwell and Byron Froese dominated early, as Froese and Tochkin scored the first two tallies.
The Chiefs would answer back in the final seconds of the first, as Beach would take a Wahl pass and snipe home his team leading 36th of the season while Spokane was short handed to make it 2-1 Everett after one period. Unfortunately, that would turn out to be the lone Chiefs highlight of the night.
Spokane was outhit, outskated, and thoroughly outplayed, as Everett would put up a Maxwell goal in the the second to make it 3-1 after two. Then the Tips would add goals from Froese and Alex Theriau in the third to cap a 5-1 beating of the Chiefs. Spokane was held to a season low 19 shots while Everett put up 43. Spokane also failed to generate a power play for the first time in over eight years, as the Chiefs fell five points back of Everett and Portland in the standings.
It was a disappointing end to what had been a good week for Spokane. The Chiefs now head home for three of their next four games, beginning with the Moose Jaw Warriors Wednesday night at 7pm. Spokane will then head to Everett for the final time this regular season on Friday at 7:30, before coming back to the Arena to face division leading Tri-City Saturday at 7pm. Spokane will then face Everett in a President's Day matinee at the Arena Monday at 3pm.
All the games, with the exception of Saturday's Tri City game will be on 1510AM KGA. Saturday's game will be on 105.7FM the Peak. I'll have the call of the games beginning a half hour prior to game time. We'll see you at the rink, and Go Chiefs Go!