Off to a 4-0 start on their season long seven game home stand, the Chiefs tried to add two more wins to the victory total as they hosted Saskatoon and Everett at the Spokane Arena last Friday and Saturday. Spokane hoping to get off to much better start than they had in their previous three wins over Brandon, Prince Albert and Everett; games the Chiefs had to rally in the third period to win. First up were the Blades from Saskatoon, a team tied with Brandon for first in the East Division of the Western Hockey League coming in.
The Chiefs jumped out to a great start offensively against the Blades, outshooting Saskatoon by an 8-1 margin at one point, but couldn't find the back of the net on Saskatoon goaltender Andrey Makarov. Saskatoon took advantage on two of their 3 power play chances in the first, and despite outshooting the Blades 13-8 in the first, the Chiefs found themselves in familiar territory, trailing 2-0. Spokane looked to be back in the game midway through the second period when Darren Kramer slapped home an Anthony Bardaro pass on the power play to get the Chiefs within 2-1. Saskatoon answered right back though with a Josh Nicholls goal less than 2 minutes later to re-establish a two goal lead at 3-1. Spokane's Marek Kalus picked a great time to score his first goal of the season as his rebound with just 1:43 left in the second to get the Chiefs within 3-2 after two periods.
The momentum was clearly with Spokane coming into the third period, and Kalus would see to it the Chiefs would keep it. He would tally his second goal of the night early in the period while the Chiefs were shorthanded to tie the game at three. Spokane would continue the pressure until breaking through with just 2:56 left in the game when Dominick Uher would finish off a Steve Kuhn feed to give the Chiefs their first lead of the game at 4-3. Blake Gal would net his first of the year with the Blades net empty in the final seconds to cap a 5-3 win and give Spokane their 6th straight home win. The Chiefs outshot the Blades 39-21 on the night, including 13-5 in their 3 goal third period, Spokane's second in as many games. Mike Aviani and Anthony Bardaro had 2 assists apiece, as Bardaro ran his points scoring streak to 9 straight to start the season.
The win also marked the Chiefs third straight over the Eastern Division and got the team ready to host the Everett Silvertips for the second time in the last week. A week previous, the Chiefs overcame a 1-0 deficit to the Silvertips with a 3 goal third on the way to a 3-1 win. On this night, the Tips were out to make sure Spokane had more than a one goal comeback to make in this one. Everett scored twice in the first 5:43 of the game to lead it 2-0. The Chiefs got a huge goal midway through the first when Steve Kuhn, who's been a bit snake bit around the net in the early season for Spokane, scored net front with his third goal of the season to get Spokane within 2-1 after one.
Unlike the previous Saturday's game, the Chiefs didn't wait until the third period in this one, as the boys got even just 3:09 into the second when Liam Stewart batted the puck from mid air from the left circle with his first WHL goal to make it 2-2. The Chiefs continued the pressure, outshooting the Silvertips 13-5, and would break the tie on a Uher goal from the crease at 16:44 of the second to give Spokane a 3-2 lead heading into the third. In the third, Spokane outshot Everett 16-10, but had to withstand a late rush by the Tips that left one rebound sitting in the crease for a couple of longgg seconds. In the end, the Chiefs came away with their 6th straight win and ran their record to a league best 7-0 at home.
Spokane will get a stern test in their final game of the home stand when the Victoria Royals, the former Chilliwack Bruins come to town. It's the first visit for the former Bruins since the Chiefs eliminated them in 5 games in the first round of the playoffs last season. The Royals also come to town after a 5-4 win in Tri Cities on Tuesday, so they are flying high after winning in one of the tougher barns in the WHL. The Chiefs will find that out first hand when they head out on the road Saturday to Kennewick to face the Americans in their first road game in a month. I'll have the call of both games on 1510 KGA beginning with the pregame show at 6:30pm and the puck drop at 7:05pm. We'll see you at the rink!