Coming off their loss in Tri-City, the boys took back to the road to face the Kootenay Ice. Even if the Chiefs didn't get a win, they surelyyyy needed to play better than they did in Tri.
It was apparent from the get go that they would. Mitch Holmberg stole the puck inside the Ice blue line and took it in on the backhand just 1:39 in to give Spokane a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, the lead didn't last long, as Kootenay scored two goals by the midway point of the period to take a 2-1 lead.
Rather than fold up, the Chiefs came storming back, which was a veryyyy encouraging sign. Back to back power play goals from Steve Kuhn at 13:50 and Tyler Johnson at 14:59 gave Spokane a 3-2 lead after one. The Chiefs also drew a penalty from the Ice at the end of the period to give Spokane a power play beginning the second.
Unfortunately, a power play goal chance became a short handed goal for the Ice as Kevin King scored the first of two on the night just 46 seconds into the second to tie the game at three. The goal changed the entire complexion of the game, as Kootenay would add another goal midway through the period after a Chiefs defensive zone turnover to take the lead for good, 4-3.
Kootenay would tack on two more goals in the third, and the Chiefs had their second straight loss as the Ice prevailed 6-3. The final score didn't show it, but the team had a lot of improvement from game one. Spokane limited Kootenay to just 19 shots and went 4-4 on the penalty kill while going 2-6 on the power play. Unfortunately, turnovers and mental mistakes killed the Chiefs on this night.
The following evening, the boys came back to the Spokane Arena for their home opener, facing Tri-City. Spokane hoped to get off to a much better start than they did against Tri in the opener, but the Americans had other ideas. Kruise Reddick snapped home a shot from the top of the right circle to send the Ams up 1-0 just 4:43 into the game.
The Chiefs jumped right back though. Blake Gal took a beautiful Tyler Johnson feed net front and put it home on the power play to tie the game at 1 less than 2 minutes later. Johnson would then snap home a shot from the slot just 19 seconds after Gal's goal to give Spokane a 2-1 lead. The goal song sounded looped the scores came so quickly.
Spokane would then take a 3-1 lead as Levko Koper scored on his own rebound at 11:45 and it looked like the Chiefs were going to run away with this one. But as quickly as I thought that, the Ams responded with a power play goal just 1:03 later to make it a 3-2 game after one. Spokane dominated the period, outshooting Tri 19-7, but the Chiefs only had a one goal lead.
Mitch Holmberg would extend the lead to two midway through the second on a beautiful feed from Anthony Bardaro and the Chiefs looked like they would take at least a two goal lead to the second when Spokane went on the power play in the final minute and a half of the period. Just like the night before though, the Chiefs coughed up a short handed goal, this time in the final half minute of the period as Tri took a 4-3 lead after two.
The goal became a huge boost for the Ams as Adam Hughesman put home two goals just 59 seconds apart early in the third period to give Tri their first lead since Reddick's opening goal, 5-4. Things looked bleak for the Chiefs, but just when it looked like Spokane would take their third straight loss, Tri's Jordan Messier took a needless slashing penalty with 2:31 left to give the Chiefs life on the power play.
Spokane would then pull goalie James Reid with about 1:30 remaining, and the 6-4 advantage would pay off with a minute to go. Blake Gal put home a rebound with a minute to go from his knees in the left side of the net and Spokane was able to force overtime tied at five.
The Chiefs didn't seem to have a lot going on offensively in the first three minutes of OT, but as I was saying that on the airwaves, Steve Kuhn hit Mitch Holmberg up the right wing, and Holmberg snapped a shot hot 3:42 into overtime to send the Chiefs and the opening night crowd into a frenzy as Spokane capped a 6-5 win. It was a hugeee win for the boys, as they avenged the opening night loss to the Ams and handed Tri their first loss in five games.
Spokane hoped to take that momentum on the road with them as they played a two game road trip in British Columbia. First up were the Chilliwack Bruins, a team many expect to contend for the B.C. Division title. The Chiefs knew they'd have to be on their 'A' game defensively and Reid came ready on this night. The Bruins would put up 12 shots and have four power plays in the period, but Chilliwack would break through on a 5-3 power play goal midway into the period to take a 1-0 lead.
Spokane would counter with a power play goal of their own at 15:18 of the second when Steve Kuhn banged home a rebound to tie the game at one. Captain Jared Cowen, who joined the team the night before after being sent down by Ottawa, picked up an assist in his first game back. Cowen took over his captaincy from Tyler Johnson, who had been named captain on the assumption Cowen wouldn't return from Ottawa.
The Chiefs committed just one penalty in the third period, but it would cost the team the game, as the Bruins scored on the ensuing power play at the 12:12 mark of the period to take the contest 2-1. Spokane outshot Chilliwack 11-6 in the third and 28-25 on the game, but ended up falling short.
Spokane hoped to turn that around the next night when they headed to Kamloops. The game was delayed about 20 minutes due to broken glass behind the Blazer net during warm ups, but once the game began, the Chiefs would seize the initiative. Despite being outshot 13-7 in the first, Spokane would take a 1-0 lead as Reid Gow finished off a Steve Kuhn feed at 16:52 of the period.
The Chiefs would add to the lead just 5:19 into the second as Matt Marantz snapped home a wrister from Mitch Holmberg. Kamloops would cut the lead in half with a goal late in the period to leave it 2-1 Spokane. Similar to the Tri City home opener, the late goal seemed to spark the Blazers as they charged out and put up 2 goals in the first 5:11 of the third to take a 3-2 lead.
Once again, like Tri, when it looked like the Chiefs would fall after having a two goal lead, the boys came back midway through the period.
The newest Chief, Darren Kramer, would save the day for Spokane as he scored on a rebound at 11:41 of the third to tie the game at three. Holmberg and Tyler Johnson got the assists after a great shift getting the puck on net. Spokane would get a scare late in the period when Blake Gal was called for a veryy questionable penalty with 1:10 left, but Reid shut the door on the Blazer power play, and the game ended up going to a shootout.
Holmberg would score on a nifty backhanded move in the first round of the shootout and that was all Reid needed as he turned aside all three Blazer shooters and the Chiefs left town with a 4-3 shootout win. Reid was the player of the game, making 43 saves through overtime to pick up his 2nd win of the year. The Chiefs ended up being outshot 46-32, but improved their record to 2-3
It was also their first road win of the season, as the team will now head home to open a 6 game home stand. First up are the Portland Winter Hawks, who play a rare back to back series at the Spokane Arena Friday and Saturday night at 7pm.
It's a rematch of last year's playoff series, which the Chiefs would like to forget with a game 7 loss at home after leading 4-2 in the third period. Hopefully the boys can cool down the U.S. Division co-leaders. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA beginning at 6:30 each night. We'll see you at the rink!