Last week ended with a bit of a thud for the Chiefs as they saw their six game winning streak snapped Saturday night to Swift Current 2-1 on Teddy Bear Toss night. I don't know what it is, but in the eight years I've been calling the games for the team, the Chiefs have neverrrr played well on that night.
The loss also ended a five game home win streak and set the team back by six points behind division leading Tri-City by weekend's end.
The weekend had started great with a win up in Chilliwack, B.C. as Spokane scored a season high seven goals in a 7-1 thrashing of the Bruins. The Chiefs special teams were great that night, going 3-4 on the power play and a perfect 3-3 on the penalty kill. Spokane was actually outshot in the game 32-30 and only led 1-0 after one, but three goal second and third periods blew the game open.
Tyler Johnson's one timer off a face off win by Levko Koper midway through the first gave the Chiefs the early lead. In the second, Kyle Beach took a Mitch Wahl pass and drove down the right side and muscled one in to the far post while driving the net to make 2-0 just over five minutes in. Johnson would then score his second of the night on a backhander on a power play to put Spokane ahead 3-0 midway through the period. Levko Koper would then make it 4-0 with another power play goal late in the period. It was Koper's first game back in almost two weeks from a groin injury, and he showed no signs of rust.
That was very apparent in the third period as Koper would score his second of the night on a rebound in the left circle almost nine minutes in to make it 5-0 Spokane. Koper would then cap a natural hat trick, his first as a Chief and his third hat trick of his career midway through the third with a power play goal on a great pass from Stefan Ulmer in the slot. After Chilliwack scored to break up goalie James Reid's shutout, Beach would cap the scoring with his second goal of the night and team leading 23rd of the year on a breakaway late in the game to close out Spokane's 7-1 win.
The most surprising thing about the result was the fact the Chiefs have neverrrr had that kind of win in Chilliwack. It's been a building that saw the Chiefs win twice in three previous years...both games being one goal wins. It was also the last game of the month with the team for captain Jared Cowen who now heads to team Canada's camp for the World Junior tournament.
With the team riding high after the road win in Chilliwack, the boys endured an all night bus ride home for a home game with Swift Current. The start of the game should have been an indicator of how things would go, as the Chiefs took four penalties in the first period. The team looked like it had bus legs and were lucky to only be down 1-0 after one. The penalty kill was great again, going 4-4 in the first and a perfect 6-6 on the game, but a defensive lapse in their own zone led to a turnover and a Swift Current lead.
Neither team was able to score in the second as the Chiefs put up 16 shots on Bronco goalie Mark Friesen, but he played the best game I've seen him play in his junior career and he frustrated the Chiefs to keep Spokane off the board. The real killer came in the third, as a turnover in the neutral zone while the Chiefs were on the power play led to a 2-on-1 rush for Swift Current and they capitalized with a short handed goal early in the period to make it 2-0 Swift. Spokane would then finally get one by Friesen when defenseman Brendan Kichton backhanded one in 3 1/2 minutes into the third to make it 2-1. Over 4,600 teddy bears hit the ice at that point and it's alwaysss a great sight to see. There's nothing quite like it in sports when that flurry of stuffed animals go flying simultaneously.
The Chiefs turned up the pressure in the third, putting 14 shots on net, but could not find the equalizer. Kyle Beach had a great shot net front late in the third, but went wide right on the shot and Spokane suffered their second loss to an Eastern Division team this year.
It was an especially tough loss because first place Tri-City won both of their games this weekend from Portland and Swift, so the Chiefs now find themselves back in third place, a point back of Portland and 6 behind Tri. The Chiefs play the final three games before the 9 day Christmas break. Spokane will travel to Seattle Tuesday, before heading home to take on Portland on Wednesday and Seattle on Friday. It's a big week for the team as they can cement their position towards the top of the division before the vacation. All the games will be at 7pm. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA beginning with the pregame show at 6:30.
Come out and support the boys, and we'll see you at the rink!!