Spokane Chiefs Blog: It's good to be home
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 4:40 PM
For the first time this season, the Chiefs actually got to experience what it was like to sleep in their own beds for a while, as the team came home to Spokane to open a season long 5 game home stand. Spokane would start the home campaign off with 3 games this past week as they hosted Swift Current, Everett and Victoria. The Chiefs were coming home on a bit of a high note, having won 2 of 3 in Alberta on their latest road trip and were hoping to keep the momentum going against a Swift Current team starting their 5 game road trip through the U.S. Division. The Broncos were in 2nd in the East Division entering last Wednesday's contest, while the Chiefs were tied for first in the U.S.
Early on, Swift controlled the puck in the Chiefs end of the ice, putting pressure on the Spokane defense. The Broncos couldn't get the puck past Chiefs goalie Eric Williams though and Spokane would then take advantage of the Swift Current offensive pressure. Mitch Holmberg would break behind the Swift defense and take a Reid Gow pass in stride and snap a shot in the net 7:38 into the first period to make it 1-0. Holmberg would strike again on a breakway, this time while the Chiefs were shorthanded, as he took a Colton Bobyk pass and scored with just 18 seconds left in the period to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead after one. It was Holmberg's league leading 14th of the year and gave the Chiefs a huge boost going into the second period.
That became evident early in the second, as Dominic Zwerger scored from the slot with his 3rd goal of the year at home, and the Chiefs were ahead 3-0. Williams meantime, kept up his strong play in goal, turning aside 8 of 9 shots in the second, giving up the lone goal of the night midway through the period as the Broncos cut the lead to 3-1 for Spokane after two periods. In the third, the Chiefs power play took over. After struggling over the weekend on the road trip in Alberta, going 1-15, the Chiefs broke through for 2 power play goals in the period. Mike Aviani would score both of them on rebounds, at 7:18 and again at 12:35 to wrap up a 5-1 win. Holmberg and Aviani would finish with 4 point nights with 2 goals and 2 assists apiece. Spokane would end up going 2-5 on the power play while outshooting Swift 33-27 in the contest. Williams was excellent in net, winning for the 7th time in 8 starts with 26 saves, several of them on Bronco shots from point blank range.
It was a good start to the home stand, but the time to enjoy was short, as the Chiefs welcomed division rival Everett to the Arena on Friday. In the two teams first meeting, Spokane had to use an overtime goal from Liam Stewart to pull out a 1-0 OT win in Everett. The Chiefs were without Stewart, as well as forward Adam Helewka for this re-match, as the Chiefs were seeing some of their rookies getting more significant ice time. Once again though, it would be Holmberg that would get the team going in the first period. Spokane would get a 5 on 3 power play chance and Holmberg took advantage, scoring 7:31 into the game to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead. The Silvertips would come back midway through the period converting on a 2 on 1 rush to tie the game at one. Holmberg then repeated his performance from Wednesday with 2 goals in the first when he scored with just 25 seconds left in the period to lift Spokane to a 2-1 advantage after one.
The defense would have to stand up in the second, as the Chiefs had to kill off 3 Everett power plays in the period. Despite being on the defensive much of the period, Spokane would outshoot the Silvertips 10-7, but neither team was able to score. Everett would come out and score just 1:35 into the third period to tie the game at 2 and it looked like another overtime game could be in the works between the two teams. The Chiefs had other ideas though as Carter Proft forced a turnover in the Tips end, and Jacob Cardiff slammed the one timer past Everett goalie Austin Lotz at 3:58 of the third for his first career goal to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead. A Silvertips turnover just under 7 minutes later in their own zone would turn into Adam Hascic's first WHL goal and would wrap up a 4-2 Spokane victory. The Chiefs penalty kill was excellent once again, going 5-5 and the defense held the Silvertips to just 19 shots to get their second straight win over Everett.
The victory was also Spokane's fourth in a row, and the Chiefs were hoping for a season high 5 straight as they welcomed Victoria to town the following night. The Royals had a 5 game win streak snapped the night before in Tri City and had also lost 2 in a row at home earlier in the season to the Chiefs in late September. The Chiefs were entering their 3rd game in 4 nights and the wear and tear of the early season road schedule would show up in this contest. The Royals took a 1-0 lead after one when a puck was sent into the crease and Tyler Soy beat goalie Garret Hughson to the biscuit at 7:04 of the period. Spokane knocked off 3 Victoria power plays in the first to keep within one after the first.
In the second, the Chiefs would pull even at 15:28 of the period when Holmberg found Aviani in the slot for Aviani's 12th goal of the year. Holmberg's assist would enable him to extend his point scoring streak to 13 straight. The Royals though would score with just 25 seconds left in the second on a power play goal to take a 2-1 lead after two. Meantime, Victoria goalie Coleman Vollrath was starting to turn away everything the Chiefs were throwing at him, as he made 18 saves in the second. Vollrath would save 11 more shots in the third and the Royals would score two goals in the final 6 minutes on a breakaway and empty netter to wrap up a 4-1 win. Vollrath ended up with 41 saves on the night as Spokane's 4 game win streak overall and at home came to an end.
The team will finally get a chance to catch its' breath this week, as they have just 2 games at home, coming on back to back nights on Friday and Saturday when the Chiefs host Brandon and Portland. It will be the only meeting between the Wheat Kings and Chiefs this year on Friday, while Spokane will look to avenge a 6-4 defeat to the Winterhawks in Portland earlier in October. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA beginning both nights with the pre-game show at 6:30pm and the puck drops at 7:05pm. Hopefully the rest does the team good, and the boys get back on the winning track. We'll see you at the rink!