Coming off their most impressive performance of the season in their 7-0 dismantling of the Prince Albert Raiders, the Chiefs finished up their 3 game home stand Wednesday as they hosted one of the perennial powers in the Western Hockey League in the Kelowna Rockets.
Spokane began the week still in third place in the U.S. Division, 3 points back of second place Tri City, and 7 back of first place Portland. The meeting with the Rockets was the first of 4 match-ups this year. Last season, the Chiefs won 3 of 4 from Kelowna, with all three wins coming in overtime. Spokane's goal into Wednesday's game was to play as well as they did in their win over the Raiders, when they out shot Prince Albert 48-13.
The Chiefs got off to the right start, as Zach Fischer's shot from the right wing found its way in the net just 3:57 in to give Spokane a 1-0 lead. The early goal ignited the Chiefs in the period, as they would go on to out shoot the Rockets 14-6. Kelowna had a chance to tie the game on a power play late in the first, but the Chiefs turned the man advantage into a short handed goal from Filip Kral with over 4 minutes left in the period to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Kelowna came out in the second and answered as they scored 2 goals just 16 seconds apart midway through the period to tie the game at two. Just as it looked like the two teams would be battling in a tie game heading to the third, Spokane re-seized control of the game. Ethan McIndoe scored on a rebound at 17:23 of the second to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead. Then Eli Zummack tipped home a shot with just 1.7 seconds remaining to put Spokane back up by two goals as the two teams headed to the third period.
Spokane shut down the Rockets offensively in the third, keeping Kelowna off the board on just 9 shots on goal. The Chiefs would get the first career goal from Milos Fafrak at 16:16 to put the game away, and then Riley Woods scored with just 2 seconds remaining to wrap up a convincing 6-2 victory. Spokane out shot Kelowna 46-20 on the night, giving the Chiefs their second straight impressive home win in a row. It marked the first time the team had won back to back home games, and brought Spokane within 1 point of Tri City for second in the division after the Americans lost to Everett at home 3-0. Next up for the Chiefs were the Silvertips, who were hoping to ride the momentum of that road win at Tri into the meeting at Everett on Friday night. Friday's game was the second of the year between the two clubs, as Spokane had won the first game in early October on a Hudson Elynuik goal with just 3 seconds left in regulation. The Chiefs had a 3 point lead over Everett and Seattle for third in a tightly bunched division heading into Friday's contest.
Everett had given up just 13 goals in their last 8 games, so it was important for the Chiefs to get the early lead on the Silvertips to get Everett out of their defensive game plan. Unfortunately, that didn't happen for Spokane, as a defensive coverage error led to Everett's Sean Richards scoring midway through the first to give the Silvertips a 1-0 lead after one. Things got worse in the second as Everett converted a power play just 1:51 into the period to take a 2-0 lead. The Chiefs came right back though, as Milos Fafrak scored in this second straight game just 21 seconds later to cut the lead in half at 2-1. Everett got all three power play chances in the second as the Chiefs managed just 5 shots in the period, and the Tips converted their second power play of the stanza with under 2 minutes left to take a 3-1 lead after two. The Chiefs would come out with 3 of the 4 power plays in the third and would generate 19 shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, but Tips goalie Carter Hart turned back every single opportunity as an empty net goal from Everett sealed a 4-1 victory to even the season series at 1-1.
The loss allowed Everett to pull within one point of Spokane for third place in the division, as Spokane fell 9 points behind Portland for first, and 3 back of Tri City for second in the U.S. The Chiefs then headed home to open their second straight 3 game home stand as they hosted the Regina Pats at the Arena on Saturday. I was just more a little curious to see which Chiefs team would show up...the one that handled Kelowna Wednesday, or the one that laid an egg in Everett the night before. My question would be answered quickly, as Spokane scored on their first power play chance of the night as Ty Smith scored just 3:34 into the game to give the Chiefs an early 1-0 lead. Regina then went on the power play less than a minute later with a chance to tie the game, but Spokane turned the tables as Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored on a breakaway 1:10 after Smith's goal to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead after one. Spokane then looked to put the game away in the second, as the Chiefs scored three straight power play goals to go up 5-0. Eli Zummack started the barrage with a rebound at 4:25 to make it 3-0. Riley Woods would score on his former team with a tip at 6:03 to put Spokane up by 4, and then Hudson Elynuik capped the flurry with a rebound at 13:38. Regina would get on the board late in the second to cut the lead to 5-1, but it looked like the Chiefs had things in control heading into the third.
The third period didn't exactly start to the Chiefs liking, as the Pats would score two goals 1:06 apart early in the period to cut Spokane's lead to just 5-3. Regina would get three power play chances to cut the lead even further, but the Spokane penalty kill was a perfect 5-5 on the night to keep the Pats at bay. Elynuik would then turn in a great individual effort to keep the puck in the Regina end, and then would set up Zach Fischer for the game sealing goal at 16:29 to give the Chiefs a comfortable 6-3 lead. Spokane would then cap the scoring in the final couple of minutes as rookie Carter Chorney scored his first career goal to wrap up a 7-3 victory. The Chiefs went a season best 4-5 on the power play to go with their 5-5 effort on the penalty kill. Spokane has now won a season high 3 games in a row at home, outscoring their opponents 20-5 in the three wins.
The Chiefs are now 3-0 against the East Division as they welcome the Saskatoon Blades from the East on Wednesday at the Spokane Arena. Spokane will then entertain Kelowna again for the second time in a week and a half on Friday before closing out the weekend with a road contest at Tri City Saturday. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA for Wednesday and Friday's game, while Saturday's contest will be on 94.1 FM the Bear. Pre-game shows will start at 6:30 pm with the puck drops at 7:05 pm. We'll see you at the rink!