Spokane Chiefs Blog: Nice recovery
Posted on February 17, 2014 at 7:38 PM
There isss no place like home, and after two weeks of being on the road, the Chiefs were more than happy to see the Spokane Arena again as they opened a 4 game home stand this week. Spokane will play 8 of their next 9 at home; this after playing 7 of 8 on the road. The Chiefs were indeed home, but that doesn't mean the schedule got any easier. For their first game back, Spokane hosted the #1 team in Canadian Junior Hockey in the Kelowna Rockets. Kelowna had lost just 8 games in regulation, 12 overall, in 57 games. Two of those losses though were to Spokane as the Chiefs had won in regulation in October in Spokane and had beaten the Rockets in a shootout in their last meeting in Kelowna in January.
The Rockets came out determined to change that in the first period in Wednesday's game, as they outshot the Chiefs 14-6 in the first period. Myles Bell's power play goal at 14:47 of the period gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead after the first. Spokane would get going offensively in the second, outshooting the Rockets 12-10 and started to get control of the territorial play. The Chiefs were unable to score though, and were still down 1 heading into the third. The momentum of the second carried over into the third for Spokane as Reid Gow snapped home his third goal against the Rockets in the last two games between the two just 1:02 into the period to tie the game at one.
Spokane would continue to put the pressure on the Rockets, and Adam Helewka had a chance to give the Chiefs the lead with a backhander net front with just a minute and a half to go, but Rockets goalie Jordan Cooke would make the save of the game for Kelowna to keep the game tied. Spokane went back on the offensive, but a turnover led to a Rockets rush up ice and a pass went off the skate of Kelowna's Cole Linaker and into the net with just 27 seconds left to give the Rockets their first win over Spokane 2-1. It was a tough loss to swallow for Spokane as the Chiefs played one of their better games of the season.
How the team would bounce back became the question as Spokane hosted arch rival Tri City in their next game on Saturday. It became obvious from the first shift that the Chiefs were ready to go as they put the pressure on the Americans defense from the start. Keanu Yamamoto would score on a rebound of a Connor Chartier shot just 2:38 into the game to make it 1-0 Spokane. Chartier would then convert a Gow pass into an open net at 13:16 to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead after one. The Chiefs got a power play to start the second, and Spokane used all of 32 seconds of the second period to take a 3-0 lead. Mitch Holmberg snapped home his 48th goal of the season on the man advantage to put Spokane in control. Adam Helewka then tapped in a rebound of a Holmberg shot at 15:37 to give the Chiefs a 4-0 lead after one. Spokane outshot Tri City 13-3 in the second and 26-10 overall after two periods.
The third would be more of the same for Spokane as they would unload 22 shots on the Americans in the period. Holmberg would get his second goal of the night on the power play 5:18 into the period on a 5 on 3 advantage to make it 5-0. Hudson Elyniuk would score his first goal as a Chief at 10:37 to put Spokane up 6-0. Dominic Zwerger would cap a near perfect night for Spokane as he scored on the power play at 17:12 to wrap up a 7-0 shutout win. The Chiefs outshot Tri City 48-16 in the game, going 3-6 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill. Goalie Eric Williams secured his 3rd shutout of the season as Spokane has now won 7 of 9 against their chief rival.
The Chiefs had put together back to back quality games but had little time to savor it as they hosted the Everett Silvertips the following night. Spokane had won 6 of 8 against the Tips this season, but had lost the last two in a row in Everett. The Spokane Arena has been a house of horrors for Everett over the last 4 seasons, as the Chiefs had won 17 straight at home against the Silvertips since the 2010-11 season. Everett seemed determined to end that streak though as Josh Winquist scored on a backhander just 1:19 into the game to give the Tips a 1-0 lead. Spokane would answer right back though, as Chartier tipped a Zwerger shot just 30 seconds after Winquist's goal to tie the game at one after the first. Everett would outshoot the Chiefs 14-6 in the second, but Spokane would get the only goal of the period when Holmberg scored his 50th of the season, getting a power play goal at 17:19 to put the Chiefs ahead 2-1.
The third period would be a stark contrast to the first two, as the two teams would combine for 5 goals in the period. Marcus Messier would put the Chiefs up 3-1 when he would score on a rebound at 8:11 of the period. It was a play that should have been an icing on Spokane, but no whistle was blown. The Silvertips relaxed on the play and Holmberg picked up the puck and put it on net. Messier banged home the rebound past goalie Carter Hart, who was making his WHL debut. Everett would answer quickly though as Brayden Low's tip at 9:08 made it 3-2 Spokane. The Chiefs bounced right back as Mike Aviani scored from Helewka at 11:34 to give the Chiefs a two goal lead once again at 4-2. Everett would cut the lead to 4-3 when they pulled Hart from the net and scored with the extra skater on at 17:35. The Silvertips would get Hart off the ice again and gave the Chiefs some anxious moments in the final two minutes, but Eric Williams turned aside every shot to preserve the lead.
Holmberg would wrap up the win with his second straight two goal game as he scored an empty netter from Aviani at 19:22 to give the Chiefs a 5-3 win. Despite being outshot 37-25 in the game, Spokane secured their 7th win in 9 games against the Silvertips this season. Spokane also moved within 6 points of Seattle for 4th in the Western Conference when the Thunderbirds lost to Prince George. The Chiefs now get to play out of the Conference for the final time this season as they face Prince Albert and Kootenay this week. The three games will mark the final games against the East this year before the Chiefs finish out the regular season with games against Western Conference rivals.
Spokane will start the week hosting Prince Albert Wednesday at 7:05pm. The Chiefs will then head to Cranbrook, B.C. Friday to face the Kootenay Ice at 6pm Pacific. Kootenay will then come to Spokane for the second half of the home and home series Saturday at 7:05pm. Spokane will then finish the weekend hosting the Kamloops Blazers at the Arena Sunday at 5:05pm to finish off 4 games in 5 nights. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The pre-game shows will be a half hour prior to puck drop. Saturday's game will be on 790 KJRB due to the Gonzaga basketball game. Pre-game will be at 6:30pm that night as Spokane has just 13 games left this regular season. Things are heating up as the season winds down, and we hope to see you at the rink!