Spokane Chiefs Blog: Making moves in the second half
Posted on January 11, 2013 at 12:18 AM
The Chiefs began the New Year continuing their 4 game road trip with a trip to Everett and Seattle. Since their very successful East Division trip, the team had struggled, having lost 4 of 6 heading into their journey on the West Side of the state. First up were the last place Everett Silvertips, who had beaten the Chiefs in Spokane's previous trip to Everett. Spokane had managed to win 3 straight from the Tips in Spokane, so the team was hoping to finally break through in Everett and in the process snap their 2 game losing streak.
The beginning of the game didn't exactly go the Chiefs way, as Josh Winquist scored on a backdoor feed at 13:39 to give the Silvertips a 1-0 lead after one. The lead became 2-0 Everett when Reid Petryk scored when he got open netfront at 1:50 of the second. The Chiefs would counter as Mike Aviani scored his 18th of the year at 6:09 to cut the lead to 2-1 after two. Spokane would pull even on a Blake Gal power play goal on a tip of a Todd Fiddler shot at 12:13 of the third. Spokane goalie Garrett Hughson turned away an Everett penalty shot midway through the third to keep the Chiefs even in the contest, but Everett would be awarded another penalty shot with just 2:44 left when Petryk was hooked going in on net. Petryk would convert the chance and the Chiefs found themselves on the short end of a 3-2 defeat.
The loss marked Spokane's third straight loss, a season high, and the team found little time to regroup as they headed down the 405 to face the Seattle Thunderbirds the next night. Seattle was on a losing streak of their own, having dropped 9 straight, including a devasting 7-6 shootout loss to the Chiefs in which the Thunderbirds blew a 6-2 third period lead. The game would also mark the final game that Assistant Coach Jon Klemm would lead the team, as Head Coach Don Nachbaur would return for the Chiefs next contest.
The Chiefs came out a much better team in the first period on Saturday, as Spokane outshot the T-Birds 20-12 and took a 1-0 lead on Dylan Walchuk's 11th goal of the season. Seattle would come out and score 2 goals in the first 7:21 of the second to take the lead 2-1. Spokane's Collin Valcourt would score his 12th of the season just 1:07 after Seattle's second goal to tie the game at two. Aviani would score for the second straight night midway through the period on a rebound out front to give Spokane a 3-2 lead after two. The two goal rebound spurred the team on in the third, as Blake Gal scored on a 5 on 3 power play at 11:41 to put the Chiefs up 4-2. Brenden Kichton followed with his 11th goal of the year at 13:32 to put away a 5-2 win for Spokane and snap the team's 3 game losing streak.
Spokane put up 50 shots in the game, 39 of those in the first two periods as goalie Eric Williams turned away 34 Seattle shots for his 19th win of the season. The Chiefs generated 9 power play chances in the contest, but managed to only score on Gal's goal in the third. The team was taking steps to get back on its' game though, and most importantly, got the win, which at the end of the day is what it's all about.
The Chiefs would look to build on the victory with their second straight game in Seattle the following Tuesday. The game would also mark the return on coach Don Nachbaur, who returned from being an assistant coach for Team Canada in the World Junior Tournament in Russia. Spokane seemed intent on impressing in Nachbaur's first game back as Brenden Kichton scored a power play goal just 19 seconds into the game to make it 1-0 Chiefs. That lead would hold until the final 6 seconds of the period as Shea Theodore scored for Seattle to tie the game at one.
Seattle would take the lead just 3:26 into the second period, but Valcourt would respond with a goal in his second straight game as his shorthanded tally at 7:22 got the Chiefs back even at two. Seattle would regain the lead at 3-2 at 17:20, but Aviani scored in his third straight contest as his shot with just 53 seconds left in the period would tie the game at three heading into the third period. It turned out to be a hugee goal, as the Chiefs Liam Stewart would steal a puck from Theodore and rifle home his 9th goal of the year at 6:12 of the third to give Spokane a 4-3 lead. Chiefs goalie Eric Williams would do the rest, as he turned aside 10 shots in the third and 27 in the game as Spokane earned their second straight win over the Thunderbirds with a 4-2 victory.
The two teams then headed over Snoqualmie Pass to Eastern Washington as the Chiefs played host to Seattle the very next night. Once again, Spokane jumped out to a quick lead as Mitch Holmberg scored on a rebound just 1:18 into the game to make it 1-0 Chiefs. Seattle would come back on a power play goal midway through the period though to tie the game at one after the first. In the second, Stewart would strike for the second straight night as his rebound at 3:16 to put the Chiefs up 2-1 after two periods.
Spokane would put the game away in the third as Aviani scored for the 4th straight game midway through the third to make it 3-1 Chiefs. Carter Proft would wrap up the 4-1 win with a shorthanded penalty shot at 13:56 as the Chiefs took their third straight win from Seattle in 5 days and their 7th in a row over the T-Birds in the season series. Seattle suffered their 12th straight loss as their lead over Everett is now just 1 point for 4th in the division. The Chiefs now lead Tri City by 6 points in the division for 2nd, while still trailing first place Portland by 16 points.
The Winterhawks are up next for Spokane as the Chiefs travel to the Rose City Friday night for a 7:15 game. Spokane will then return home Saturday to wrap up a 4 games in 5 nights stretch when they host the Kootenay Ice for a 7:05pm contest. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA on Friday night with the pre-game at 6:30pm. Saturday's game will be on 790 KJRB due to the Gonzaga game as the pre-game will also be at 6:30pm.
The team will look a bit different when they get back in the Arena Saturday night as the club making several moves on the trade deadline day on Thursday. In the biggest deal of the day, the Chiefs sending forward Marek Kalus, last year's 2nd round pick Rhett Gardner and two draft picks to Brandon for their leading scorer, forward Alessio Bertaggia. Bertaggia played for Switzerland in the World Junior Tournament and is an offensive force. I'm very excited to see his skill set with a center like Dylan Walchuk. Fans will enjoy him, I assure you. Spokane also dealt forward Collin Valcourt to Saskatoon for two draft picks, including a first rounder, as the team dealt with its' 19 year old situation.
Spokane had 7 19 year old players starting the day, knowing it will only be able to keep 3 next season. The signing of 18 year old Adam Smith, who made his debut on Tuesday in Seattle, gave the Chiefs a player similiar to Valcourt and a year younger. Spokane also acquired 17 year old defenseman Stewart Coyle to get a bit younger on the blue line. With the trades, the Chiefs sending forward Tyson Predinchuk to Melville of the Saskatchwan Junior League and sending defenseman Adam Power to the Spokane Braves. Both players had sporadic playing time this season, so the move enabling both to get regular playing time.
It will be interesting to see how the club adjusts to the changes, but I have a good feeling about the moves, particularly adding a world class player like Bertaggia. It will be adding a player of Kyle Beach's scoring ability to Spokane's front line, and last I checked, scoring more goals than the other team is what the game is about. We'll see how it goes this weekend and until then, we'll see you at the rink!