Spokane had not beaten Portland since January 23, 2013 when the Chiefs beat the Hawks for the second straight time in a week. Portland then won the next matchup two nights later 3-0, starting a streak of 15 in a row spanning the playoffs of last season and this year's regular season. The Chiefs had been shutout the last two meetings, getting outscored 11-0 in two losses in Portland. With all that behind them, Spokane set out to snap the streak Saturday night at the Spokane Arena. The Chiefs had not only failed to win a game this year, but had failed to lead a game this season in 7 outings.
That did not change on this night, as the Hawks took the puck off a face-off and Alex Schoenborn scored from between the circles just 1:40 into the game to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead. In past games, Spokane would have gone on the defensive, but in this contest, the Chiefs went on the offensive, outshooting the Winterhawks by a 2 to 1 margin, 14-7 in the period. Unfortunately for Spokane, no one could find the net on Portland goalie Corbin Boes, who was in net for starter Brendan Burke, who was out with mononucleosis. The second period started just like the first results wise, as Portland scored early. Chase DeLeo got behind the Chiefs defense and scored at 1:52 of the second to put the Hawks up 2-0. Spokane would outshoot Portland again in the second, this time 9-6, but once again the Chiefs failed to beat Boes.
Spokane would only generate 7 shots in the third as they killed off 2 Portland power plays to keep the Hawks from getting on the board again. For the third straight game though, the Chiefs failed to score on Portland, as Boes turned away all 30 Spokane shots to notch his first shutout of the year in a 2-0 win. There were a lot of positives for Spokane in this loss, the foremost being actually taking the game to Portland offensively rather than backing down. In the end, Portland ended up sweeping the season series 8-0, and the Chiefs were hoping to keep up the effort the next evening as they hosted Tri City.
The Chiefs had no problems scoring goals against the Americans in their last two meetings, scoring 7 in each win, 7-3 in Kennewick February 8th, and a 7-0 shutout at the Arena February 15th. As tough a loss at it was the night before, the fear of a hangover from the Portland loss was certainly a concern for Spokane entering the game. Tri City was coming off a tough 3-2 loss the night before in Everett, but after spotting the Silvertips a 3-0 lead, the Ams had stormed back with 2 goals in the final 10 minutes to nearly send the game to overtime. The Americans were definitely coming in with some momentum, and were in a battle with Prince George for the final playoff spot in the West, leading by just 2 points coming into the game with Spokane.
For the second straight night, the Chiefs gave up an early goal as Parker Bowles power play goal 3:30 into the game put the Ams up 1-0. Chiefs goalie Eric Williams had made two sensational saves before the goal, but the stage was set for the game in the opening 20 minutes. Brandon Carlo would score on a slap shot from the right point at 13:35 after the Ams had dominated the puck in the Chiefs zone to put Tri City ahead 2-0 after one.
The Chiefs would go empty on the power play in the second, failing to score on 3 chances, including 39 seconds of a 5 on 3 advantage to remain scoreless through two periods. To make matters worse, Spokane's defense failed to pick up Tri's leading scorer Brian Williams coming out of the penalty box and he swept in and scored on a backhander at 13:49 to give the Americans a 3-0 lead going to the third. The Chiefs would get it going offensively in the third, putting up 14 shots on Ams goalie Eric Comrie. Spokane would fail on 2 more power plays and would once again be unable to find the net as the Chiefs were shutout for the second straight game, 3-0. Spokane put up 64 shots over the weekend, but found themselves blanked for the 7th time this year and for the first time by a team other than Portland or Seattle.
Spokane must now find their offense as they begin a 4 game road trip on Wednesday in Kelowna against the #1 team in the entire CHL. The last time the two teams met, the Rockets scored in the final 30 seconds after a Chiefs turnover to win 2-1. It was one of Spokane's better played games of the season, and it will take the same effort, especially with the Rockets coming off a 5-1 shellacking at Everett on Tuesday. The road trip will continue with back to back games at Prince George on Friday and Saturday. The Cougars, led by former Chief Todd Fiddler, who is on an 18 game points scoring streak, are in a playoff fight with Tri City for the last playoff berth in the West. PG has just 4 games left and trail Tri by 4 points, so everyy game is crucial to them. Spokane will finish the trip with their last meeting with Seattle on Tuesday.
It could be a possible playoff matchup for Spokane, but now Everett is just 1 point back of Spokane for 5th in the West, so the Chiefs will need to find the net, and some wins, to avoid falling into the 6th spot and a matchup with Victoria in round 1. With just a week and a half, and 7 games left, every game is critical. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with the pre-games at 6:30pm and the puck drops at 7pm. The season's winding down, so let's hope the Chiefs have plenty in the tank, and we hope to see you on the radio!