Spokane Chiefs Blog: A few 'tricks' up their sleeve
Posted on February 25, 2014 at 12:09 AM
Having won 2 of 3 to start their home stand, the Chiefs were hoping to make it 3 of 4 as they finished up the 4 game home stand against the Prince Albert Raiders. The contest marked the final game against an Eastern Division opponent, as the Chiefs had gone 4-0-0-1 against the division, with the only loss against Regina in a shootout. Spokane was on a modest two game win streak, having beaten Tri City and Everett over the previous weekend, having outscored the Americans and Silvertips by a combined 12-3.
It looked like the Chiefs would jump all over the Raiders in the first period as Spokane put up 16 shots on Prince Albert goalie Cole Cheveldave. The Chiefs couldn't find the net though, and the two teams headed to the second period scoreless. Spokane would put the Raiders on the power play 4 times in the period and P.A. would take advantage on the third one when Dakota Conroy scored at 9:32 of the second. Shane Danyluk took over from there as he scored two straight goals over the final half of the period to put the Raiders up 3-0 after two. Spokane finally broke through on the scoreboard on Keanu Yamamoto's 7th goal of the year at 5:28 of the third, but would fail to get any closer as they failed to score on 2 power plays in the period. Conroy would wrap up the win with his second of the night late in the third when goalie Eric Williams had started off the ice for an extra skater, but the Chiefs turned over the puck and led to Conroy putting the puck in an open net to cap a 4-1 Prince Albert win.
The Chiefs outshot the Raiders 37-27 but went 0-5 on the power play. After the first period, Spokane's game changed offensively and Prince Albert took advantage. The loss was the first for the Chiefs in regulation to an East Division opponent and sent the team on a less than high note North to Canada for a matchup with the Kootenay Ice on Friday. The two teams had not met since a home and home series in late December, which the two teams split with the visiting team winning each time. Spokane had lost 2 of 3 to the Ice in the season series and were hoping to pull even with their second straight road win.
Kootenay would pull ahead early as a Jagger Dirk one timer late in the first made it 1-0 Kootenay after one. Radim Valiev's goal early in the second put the Ice ahead 2-0 and it looked like an easy win was in store for Kootenay. Spokane then woke up offensively at 8:15 as Yamamoto scored his second goal in as many games to make it 2-1. Yamamoto then notched his first multi-goal game of his career when he scored on a rebound at 15:45 to tie the contest at 2 after the second period. Spokane would fail to seize the momentum in the third period as Kootenay outshot the Chiefs 15-7 in the stanza. Fortunately for Spokane, goalie Eric Williams was on top of his game and turned away every shot to force the game to overtime.
Neither team was able to break through in overtime as Williams and Ice goalie Makenzie Skapski kept the puck out of the net. The game would go to a shootout and the zero's continued as both teams were denied through the first 4 rounds. Spokane, which was shooting second, had a chance to win in rounds 3 and 4, but neither Mike Aviani or Adam Helewka were able to score. Valiev would break the deadlock with a goal in round 5 for Kootenay, and when Skapski turned aside Jason Fram in round 5, the Chiefs had their second straight loss of the week as Kootenay took a 3-2 shootout win.
Spokane was fortunate to get the one point as the team was outshot 42-27 in the game and did not generate one power play in the game, a first for the season. Williams was the reason why Spokane even got to a shootout as he played another sterling game in net. Offensively, the Chiefs were well below average, generating very little as they hardly had the puck in the game. Spokane was going to have to change that the following night to have any chance as they hosted the Ice in the second half of the home and home series on Saturday.
Sometimes a change in scenery can do a world of good, and it certainly did on this night for the Chiefs. Spokane jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Mitch Holmberg goal at 10:17 and would expand the advantage when Holmberg scored on the power play at 18:01 to make it 2-0. Holmberg would cap a natural hat trick with his league leading 54th goal of the season on a wrap around at 19:18 to put Spokane ahead 3-0. It looked like that lead would go into the second, but Marcus Messier finished off a chance net front at 19:41 to put the Chiefs up 4-0 after one. Three goals in 1:59 stunned the Ice and led to the departure of Skapski as Wyatt Hoflin relieved him going into the second period.
Kootenay's Zach Franko scored the only goal of the second to cut the Chiefs lead to 4-1. Spokane's Mike Aviani and Reid Gow saved possible Kootenay goals with heads up plays defensively in the period to keep the lead at three. Tim Bozon of the Ice scored just 2:57 into the third to cut the lead to 4-2, but Carter Proft would send a knuckle ball over the glove of Hoflin at 3:30 to give the Chiefs a 5-2 advantage. Proft would follow up with his second of the game and 10th of the year at 14:49 to put Spokane comfortably in front 6-2. Dirk would score a power play goal with just 1:25 left to cap the scoring as the Chiefs split the home and home with a 6-3 win.
The Chiefs offensively were very good for the first and third, and Williams play kept the Ice from getting back in the game in the second. Holmberg's hat trick got the Chiefs rolling and Spokane picked up their second win over Kootenay in the final game against an Eastern Conference opponent on the season. The Chiefs went 10-4-0-2 against the East, a good record against the opposite Conference. Spokane now had the challenge of finishing its' final 10 games of the season against the West, beginning with the last place team in the conference, the Kamloops Blazers on Sunday at the Spokane Arena.
The Chiefs had won 2 of 3 from the Blazers in the season series, but Kamloops was coming off a 3-2 shootout win over Seattle the night before. The Blazers came out quick in this game as well as Matt Bellerive scored on the power play 1:48 into the game to take a 1-0 lead. Spokane would come back to tie the game when Dominic Zwerger scored on a wrap around at 6:11 of the first. Holmberg then rifled a shot in the net, but the referee failed to see it go in as the puck ricocheted out. Play continued despite the goal judge turning on the goal light. The play was then reviewed, and Holmberg was credited with his 55th goal of the year to make it 2-1 Chiefs.
The goal opened the flood gates for Spokane. Zwerger would get his second of the game just 7 seconds later to put Spokane ahead 3-1. The two goals in 7 seconds matched the franchise record set by Blake Gal and Anthony Bardaro in Portland in the 2010-11 season. Holmberg would notch his second of the game at 11:59 to make it 4-1, and then Proft scored on a rebound at 12:19 to put the Chiefs up 5-1. Holmberg would cap the 6 goal outburst with his second straight hat trick in a first period in as many games, with a power play goal at 18:54 to make it 6-1 Chiefs after one. Holmberg's last tally was his 57th of the year, the most by a Chief in a season since Ryan Duthie in '93-94 and he now has 142 career goals, third most in Chiefs history as he passed Ray Whitney. Holmberg is just 4 back of all time leader Pat Fallon with 9 games left in the regular season.
Kamloops would get the lone goal of the second period on a Josh Connolly tally, but Adam Helewka would put the lead at 7-2 with his 21st of the year at 5:26 of the third. Reid Gow's goal off a 4 on 4 at 8:30 extended the margin to 8-2. The Blazers would get two power play goals on Chiefs goalie Garret Hughson 2:11 apart midway through the third to make it a 8-4 game. Zwerger would cap the scoring with his first career hat trick at 19:12 of the third on a power play goal to wrap a 9-4 win. The 9 goals were the most in a game for Spokane this year as the Chiefs put up 41 shots, going 2-7 on the power play.
Spokane now gets a bit of a break, as they have just 2 games this week, playing division rivals Portland and Tri City on Friday and Saturday at the Spokane Arena. Portland will bring to town a 20 game winning streak, the longest in the league this year. The Chiefs are also looking for their first win in 8 meetings with the Winterhawks this season as well. I'll have the call of Friday's game on 1510 KGA starting with the pre-game show at 6:30pm and the puck drop at 7:05pm. Saturday's game against Tri City will be on 790 KJRB due to Gonzaga's game and the times will be the same as Friday's game. The season is down to the final 3 weeks as Spokane is just 2 points back of Seattle for 4th in the conference. It should be a fun weekend at the Arena and we hope to see you at the rink!