For the first time in almost a month, the Chiefs actually got 3 days off in a row, as the team got to enjoy some rare down time and a muchhh lighter schedule. Coming off their 7-3 win over Seattle on Monday, the team had just 2 games to worry about over the weekend. Both contests would also be on the home ice of the Spokane Arena, so it was going to be great to actually not having to get on a bus for the umpteenth time. Spokane would welcome back Seattle on Friday night before facing the division leading Tri City Americans on Saturday.
After the shellacking of the Thunderbirds on Monday, the Chiefs had to know Seattle would come out with a much greater effort the second time around. There were parts of the Chiefs game that needed improvement as well, so it was going to be interesting how the two teams came out in the rematch Friday. The first period was pretty even with Spokane outshooting Seattle 8-6 in the period. The Chiefs would break through with the only goal of the period when Dylan Walchuk forced one in from the right goal line to make it 1-0 Spokane after one.
The second period opened up much more on the offensive end for both teams. The Chiefs opened the door on the Seattle power play as Spokane took back to back minor penalties just 19 seconds apart early in the period to give the T-Birds a 5-3 power play. Colin Jacobs took advantage of the Chiefs napping defense to score on a breakaway at 4:17 on the 5 on 3 to tie the game at one. Former Chief Burke Gallimore then tipped a shot at 5:03 on the 5-4 advantage to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. After the penalty kill breakdowns, the Chiefs bounced right back when Mike Aviani scored off a rebound of a Collin Valcourt shot at 9:08 to get the Chiefs back even at two. Valcourt then tipped a Brenden Kicthton shot at 11:17 to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead.
Spokane then went on the power play just over 4 minutes later with a chance to extend the lead to two. A bad pass got out of the attack zone though, and Chiefs goalie Mac Engel started going after the puck as it drifted into the Spokane end of the ice. Unfortunately, Seattle's Brenden Rouse got to the puck first, and with Engel caught in no man's land out of the net, Rouse backhanded in the easy shorthanded goal and the game was now tied at 3 going into the third period.
Talk about a momentum shift. Now the Chiefs were in a dog fight, and the battle got even more uphill when Branden Troock scored early in the third to give Seattle a 4-3 lead. Spokane would answer back almost instantly though as Marek Kalus tipped a Davis Vandane shot at 5:47, just 1:07 after Troock's goal, to tie the game back up at 4. The thoughts of an overtime game lasted all of 35 seconds as Cole Wedman's shot from the blue line found its' way through for Spokane and the Chiefs seized a 5-4 lead. As it turns out, Wedman's goal was the game winner, as Engel and the defense held Seattle at bay.
It was far from an easy win like Monday's triumph over the Thunderbirds, but it was a win nonetheless. With Tri City's loss to Portland on Friday, the Chiefs were now 7 points out of first with a chance to move within 5 points with a regulation win against the Americans the next night. Spokane had won their last 2 in a row over Tri, including a 3-1 triumph in Tri City on January 20th in the two teams last meeting.
Spokane jumped out to a good start in Saturday's contest as Kichton's pass found the stick of Mike Aviani net front at 16:42 of the first period to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead. Spokane had a power play in the final minute of the period with a chance to make it a 2-0 lead. Instead, Tri City's Justin Feser's shot from the right wing hit off of Kichton's stick and went past Spokane goalie Eric Williams to tie the game at one with just 9 seconds left in the first to tie the game at one after the first.
It was a huge swing in this contest and it showed in the second period. Tri City would get shorthanded and power play goals from Brendan Shinnimin to take a 3-1 lead after two. The Chiefs would climb back into the game in the third when Liam Stewart finished off a Dylan Walchuk pass while Spokane was shorthanded at 3:25 of the period to get Spokane within 3-2. Tri City would answer back though when Sam Grist capped an Ams possession of over a minute in the Chiefs zone midway through the third to give Tri a 4-2 lead. The Chiefs came right back though, as Mitch Holmberg scored a power play tally at 14:54 to bring the Chiefs within 4-3. That was as close as Spokane would get though, as the Americans scored an empty net goal in the final 45 seconds to cap a 5-3 win.
The loss spoiled a great effort by Chiefs goalie Eric Williams, as he turned away 29 Tri City shots in the loss. The defeat set the Chiefs back by 9 points behind Tri in the division and Spokane lost a chance to gain two points over Vancouver in the race for 4th place in the Western Conference, which is the last home advantage spot in the playoffs. Spokane will host Vancouver in the last regular season meeting between the two on Wednesday night at the Arena before heading out on a 4 game road trip.
Wednesday's game will be on 1510 KGA beginning with the pre-game show at 6:30pm and the puck drop at 7:05pm. Friday, the Chiefs head to Cranbrook, B.C. to face the Kootenay Ice at 6pm with the pre-game at 5:30pm on 1510. Saturday's game will be on 790 KJRB as the Chiefs head to Tri Cities for a rematch with the Americans. Game time is 7pm with the pre-game at 6:30pm. Sunday, Spokane heads to Seattle to take on the Thunderbirds. That contest will be on 1510, with the pre-game at 4:30pm and a 5pm start from the ShoWare Center in Kent. It's another big week for the Chiefs as less than month will be left in the regular season after this 4 game stretch. We hope to see you at the rink!