Spokane Chiefs Blog: Good end to the road
Posted on October 15, 2013 at 5:47 PM
Updated Tuesday, Oct 15 at 5:47 PM
It's become a familiar site in this first month of the season for the Chiefs. Play some games on the road...head home for one...and back on the road again. After a stopover at the Arena for a home win over Kelowna, it was back on the bus for the Chiefs as they headed to the Province of Alberta to play three games in three nights against the Central Division of the Western Hockey League. The trip began with an all day bus ride Wednesday to Edmonton, which is about 11 hours drive from Spokane. After a practice day on Thursday and a chance to catch a game with the hometown Oilers taking on the Montreal Canadiens, the team readied for Friday night's tilt with the Oil Kings.
The game started off great from a Chiefs perspective as Mike Aviani was credited for a goal he apparently kicked in with his right leg just 1:56 into the game. After a lengthy video review, the goal was counted and Spokane was up 1-0. The lead held through the first period as Eric Williams turned away 10 Edmonton shots in the stanza. Williams continued to be razor sharp in the second as he once again saved 10 Oil Kings shots as Spokane, despite being outplayed through 40 minutes, was still up 1-0 after two. The hope was that the team would get things going offensively in the third after being held to just 11 shots through two periods.
Unfortunately hope and reality can be complete opposites, and they were this night as Edmonton came out and scored just 1:40 into the third to tie the game at one. The Oil Kings took off from there as the Chiefs continued to struggle mightily playing any of the team game that had them win 6 of their first 7 games. Edmonton would add two Curtis Lazar goals and an empty netter to put up 4 in the third on Spokane and run away to a 4-1 win. The third reminded me of the first period in Portland in Spokane's other loss this season, when the Winterhawks put up 4 goals in 8 minutes on their way to a 6-4 victory.
There wasn't a lot of time to mope about the loss as the team headed South an hour and a half to Red Deer. The second place Rebels had won in overtime the night before at home, and were raring to go with hopes of a home sweep over the weekend. Red Deer came out ready as well as they won the opening face-off and scored just 30 seconds into the game on Chiefs goalie Garret Hughson to take a 1-0 lead. Spokane bounced back though and got back on their team game in the first period, putting up 12 shots on net, but still trailed 1-0 after one.
Rebel goalie Patrik Bartosek kept Red Deer on top through the second as he turned aside 16 shots in the period, frustrating Spokane and keeping the Chiefs down 1-0 after two. Unlike the previous night though, it was the Chiefs getting better as the game transpired, not the opponent. It was only a matter of time before Spokane broke through, and they would do so 8:15 into the third period when Connor Chartier hit an open Mike Aviani for his 4th goal in 3 games and the game was tied at one. Just 55 seconds later, Mitch Holmberg netted his 11th of the season on the power play and suddenly Spokane was up 2-1. Red Deer would come right back and tie the game just over 3 minutes later on a power play goal of their own and the game was even at two.
The Chiefs came right back late in the game as Jackson Playfair picked a great time for his first goal of the year, burying a rebound of a Riley Whittingham shot with just 2:20 left to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead. Hughson would do the rest, making a spectacular save in the final 30 seconds to deny Red Deer the tying goal and secure the victory for Spokane. It was a great third period comeback, not to mention a biggg bounce back from the previous night's effort in Edmonton. Now the team had a chance to not only get a winning road swing, but also pull themselves into a first place tie with Seattle with a win the following day in Calgary.
The turnaround was a quick one for the Chiefs as they followed a tough night game with a 4pm game against the Hitmen. The two teams went back and forth in the first period, as Spokane and Calgary each put up 8 shots in the first in a scoreless period. The one area of concern for Spokane was the Chiefs going 0-3 on the power play in the stanza. Calgary would then get the only two power plays of the second, but the Chiefs would kill off both Hitmen chances. Unfortunately for Spokane, right after killing off the second opportunity, Calgary would score after a winning the puck in the Chiefs zone and it was 1-0 Hitmen. Calgary would extend the lead to 2-0 when a puck went off Chiefs defenseman Tyler King's skate and into the net past goalie Eric Williams and the Hitmen had a 2 goal lead heading to the third.
Spokane needed a quick goal in the third to not only get back in the game on the scoreboard, but give them the boost to get another third period comeback. The Chiefs would get just that, as Cole Wedman banged home his first goal of the year on a rebound just 1:02 into the period and the lead was down to 2-1. Mitch Holmberg would get the Chiefs even at 8:55 with his league leading 12th goal of the season and the game was even at two. Holmberg has now scored in all 10 Chiefs games and also leads the WHL with 25 points. Williams would stand tall in goal down the stretch as Spokane limited Calgary to just 6 shots in the third, while putting up 14 on net as the two teams headed to overtime all knotted up.
In overtime, neither team seriously threatened on offense as the two teams went to a shootout for the first time this year. Neither team scored in the first 5 rounds, as Calgary hit a post in the 5th round to just miss winning the game. In the 6th round, Calgary would hit the post again and have the shot ring out, opening the door for the Chiefs Jason Fram, who put one off the glove of goalie Chris Driedger and into the net, winning the shootout 1-0 and giving the Chiefs a come from behind 3-2 win. It was a great way to end the road trip as the club won 2 of 3 on a very tough journey through the Central.
The Chiefs now get to come home to the Spokane Arena for their longest home stand of the year, as they host 5 straight at home. The home stand will begin with a visit from the Swift Current Broncos on Wednesday, followed by games with Everett on Friday and Victoria on Saturday. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA beginning with the pre-game shows at 6:30pm and the puck drops at 7:05pm. It will be good to finallyyy be home for a while, so let's get out and support the boys at home! We'll see you on the radio...