The week that was for the Chiefs was about as easy as it's going to be for the team....at least as far as playing games were concerned. Spokane hit the ice just once, taking on U.S. Division rival Everett on Saturday night, after having a full week of practice to work out the kinks after two straight home losses to Portland.
The boys got a boost as veteran defenseman Brendan Kichton returned to the lineup after missing the first seven games of the season with a broken left finger. His return not only solidifies the back end for Spokane, but gives the Chiefs a puck handling and moving defenseman on the power play. A good thing too, as the power play had been anything but powerful, going 0-17 in the two losses to Portland.
Kichton's reappearance was evident early against the Silvertips, as his shot from the point was redirected by Kenton Miller netfront just 1:59 into the game on the Chiefs first power play to make it 1-0 Spokane. Blake Gal then rifled a shot top shelf at 5:26 to make it 2-0 Spokane. My first reaction was it hit the crossbar and came out, but I didn't hear the sound you usually hear when a puck hits the bar or post. The team celebrated, the goal judge turned on the red light, but the referee on the line did not signal a goal. After a lengthy review, the replay showed the puck went under the bar and into the top netting to give Spokane a two goal lead.
Everett would take advantage of a 5-3 power play less than 3 minutes later to cut the Chiefs lead to 2-1 after the first period. Unlike the Portland series, the Chiefs were able to get shots, 17 in the period, and get a lead. The second period was the James Reid show for Spokane. The goalie turned away two point blank odd man rushes to keep Spokane in the lead after the second. The Chiefs outshot the Tips 13-7 in the stanza, but Reid's big plays on Josh Birkholz and Scott McDonald kept Spokane in the lead.
In the third, Spokane would dominate the period, outshooting Everett 15-2 and getting rewarded on the power play again when Tyler Johnson's shot towards the net was redirected by an Everett defenseman into the net at 11:53 to cap the scoring. The Chiefs would outshoot the Tips 45-19 in the game, and more importantly, would cash in on two power play chances. Spokane only allowed Everett on the power play the two opportunities they received in the first period, and held the high power Silvertip offense in check.
It was a huge win for a young team at a time when they needed it. The road doesn't get any easier for Spokane as they host the defending league champion Calgary Hitmen Wednesday, and then entertain the Central Division leading Red Deer Rebels on Saturday.
These two games will be good barometers for a young team still growing and learning how to win.
I'll have the call both nights with the pregame shows at 6:30, with all the action at 7pm on 1510 KGA. See you at the rink!