Spokane Chiefs Blog: Good to be home
Posted on November 19, 2013 at 9:35 PM
Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 11:48 PM
It's been rare for the Chiefs in this first two months of the season when the team has to only play two games in a week, but that's exactly what Spokane had this past weekend as the Chiefs opened a home stand with the team welcoming Prince George and Regina to the Spokane Arena. Being off much of the week, the team had fallen to 3rd place in the U.S. Division standings behind Portland and Everett. Spokane first took on a Prince George team that had struggled of late, losing in 9 of their previous 11 contests going into Friday's tilt. It would also mark the first time the Chiefs had faced former teammate Todd Fiddler, who was dealt away in the off season after leading Spokane with 42 goals last year.
Spokane would see the Cougars take the early lead as Fiddler found an open Zach Pachiro to the right of Chiefs goalie Eric Williams and Pachiro roofed in his shot to make it 1-0 PG. The Chiefs would counter on their first power play of the night when Mike Aviani scored just 18 seconds into the man advantage to tie the game at one after one. It would turn out to be the only power play Spokane enjoyed on the evening. Fiddler would break open net front and score midway through the second period to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead, but Mitch Holmberg would score off a Tyler King shot just 1:19 later to send the game to the third all even at two apiece.
The third period, as it often has this season, would be the decisive period for the Chiefs. Jason Fram would score from the blue line midway through the stanza to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead with what turned out to be the game winning goal. Holmberg would essentially seal the game with a sterling short handed goal just 58 seconds after Fram's goal to make it a 4-2 game. Holmberg's shot from just below the goal line banked off the shoulder of PG goalie Ty Edmonds and gave the Chiefs a huge insurance goal late in the game. Spokane would wrap up the scoring when Liam Stewart would score on an empty netter in the final minute to clinch a 5-2 win. Holmberg would score 4 points, while defenseman Reid Gow would put up 3 assists in the 3rd.
Spokane would then try for their 3rd straight win over an East Division opponent when they took on the Regina Pats on Saturday. The Pats had split their first four games of their U.S. Division swing, beating Seattle and Everett, while dropping games to Portland and the night before to Tri City. The Chiefs had knocked off Swift Current and Brandon from the East previously. The last two meetings with Regina had finished in 6-5 finals, going to overtime last year in Regina and to a shootout in Spokane two years ago, with the Chiefs winning both.
As it turns out, this contest would be just as close. Neither team was able to score in the first period as the Chiefs got out to a good start, outshooting the Pats 9-7 in the first 20 minutes. Regina would break through midway through the second period on a goal by Dryden Hunt to take a 1-0 lead. The Chiefs would come back to tie the game at one when Adam Helewka scored on a shot from the left wing on the power play late in the period. Spokane then got a golden chance to take the lead after the Pats Braden Christoffer ran over goalie Garret Hughson in the Chiefs net and took a 5 minute major penalty. After scoring on the power play though, Spokane let off the pedal with the man advantage and failed to score on the 5 minute power play as the game remained tied at one. It turned out to a be a huge moment in the game.
Spokane would take their first lead of the game though, midway through the third period when Mike Aviani tipped a Reid Gow shot net front on the power play at 10:10, giving the Chiefs a 2-1 lead. The advantage didn't last very long though, as the Pats got a 2 on 1 rush less than 2 1/2 minutes later, and Dyson Stephenson slipped the puck past Hughson and the game was headed to overtime tied at two. Neither team scored in the 5 minute overtime, but Regina had a great chance to score as they got a power play chance in the final minute of OT, but Spokane held off the Pats on the 4 on 3 opportunity.
For the second time this year, the Chiefs went to a shootout. Spokane shot first, but Mitch Holmberg lost the puck off his stick before getting a shot on Regina goalie Dawson MacAuley. Regina failed to score in round two, but Boston Leier beat Hughson with a backhander in round two to give the Pats a 1-0 lead after two rounds. MacAuley then turned away Adam Helewka in round three to hand the Chiefs their first loss in overtime or shootouts this season. The loss came despite a good night on special teams for Spokane as they went 2-5 on the power play and 6-6 on the penalty kill, but the failed 5 minute power play ended up being the difference between a win and a loss for the Chiefs.
Now the team will get back on the ice for 3 games in 4 nights, with two of them at home in the Spokane Arena. The week begins with the team welcoming the Vancouver Giants in the Giants only visit to Spokane on Wednesday. The Chiefs then travel to division leading Portland Friday before coming home on Saturday to host the rival Tri City Americans. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA all three nights beginning with the pre-game shows at 6:30pm and the puck drop at 7:05pm. We'll see you at the rink!