The Chiefs were hoping their big home win over Kelowna would carry over into games 2, 3 and 4 of their season long 7 game homestand, as they welcomed Brandon, Prince Albert, and Everett to the Spokane Arena last week. First up were the Wheat Kings, who had lost just once in regulation in their first 6 games. It became apparent very early in the contest that Brandon was ready for their first game of their U.S. Division swing as Mark Stone scored on a rebound just 1:09 into the game to give the Wheaties a 1-0 lead. The Chiefs answered with a Brenden Kichton power play goal just 1:18 later to tie the game at one. Brandon's league leading power play came back with a goal of their own midway through the first, to take a 2-1 lead after one.
The Wheat Kings would get the first goal of the second period on another power play tally to go up 3-1 and it looked like the Chiefs were in serious danger of losing their first home game of the season. Anthony Bardaro would give the Chiefs life with a tip of a Davis Vandane shot on a Spokane power play to bring the team within 3-2. That set the stage for the key play of the game, as Darren Kramer stole the puck off the stick of Brandon goalie Corbin Boes and scored on a wrap around shot from behind the net with just 1:27 left in the second to tie the game at three.
It was a huggeee play to give the Chiefs the momentum heading into the decisive third period. It turned out to be a tight defensive period of hockey until the Chiefs broke out of their own zone late in the game. Steve Kuhn patiently waited for Dominick Uher to follow the play and hit him with a pass net front that Uher buried for his first goal of the season. It turned out to be the game winner as goalie Mac Engel and the defense held Brandon at bay, and the Chiefs skated away with their 3rd straight home win 4-3. It was a greattt come from behind win against a good Brandon team that will be heard from in the East before the season is over.
Two nights later, the Prince Albert Raiders came calling. The Raiders were finishing up their U.S. Division swing, having gone 2-2, with wins at Everett and Seattle, and dropping two one goal games at Tri-City and Portland. The Chiefs were hoping for a quicker start than the one they had against Brandon, but unfortunately that would not be the case. Prince Albert's Justin Maylan broke away behind the Chiefs defense and snapped home a goal just 4:33 into the game to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead. Once again, Spokane would respond with the help of a fluke bounce. Defenseman Corey Baldwin shot a puck from the left blue line towards the right corner, only to see the pass shoot off the skate of P.A. defenseman Antoine Corbin and past Raider goalie Eric Williams to tie the game at one. It seemed the only way the Chiefs would score, as Williams turned away 14 Spokane shots in the first period. To make matters worse, the Raiders would break in behind the Chiefs defense and score another goal to take a 2-1 lead after one.
In the second, Spokane dominated offensively, outshooting the Raiders 12-4, but the Chiefs couldn't find the net, and found themselves down 2-1 going into the third. Spokane had gone 0-3 when trailing after two periods, so their work was cut out for them. In the third though, Collin Valcourt shot a puck from the left corner that somehow snuck through the pads of Williams at the 10 minute mark of the period to tie the game at two. It was another fluky, unusual goal that just showed that things were going the Chiefs way on this night. The game would head to overtime, and it looked like both teams were gassed after a physical three periods of hockey. Somehow, Bardaro would find the energy to scoop up a loose puck and skate past the Raider defense and shoot one over the glove of Williams to give the Chiefs the dramatic, come from behind win.
The Chiefs didn't have a lot of time to enjoy the win though, as the Everett Silvertips came to Spokane the next night at the Arena. It was the first match up with the Tips this year, and as it always is within the division, a key game. Spokane came out flat again, which has been a disturbing trend this season, as Everett scored on an errant clearance pass in the Chiefs zone, and Cody Fowlie scored on the power play to make it 1-0 Everett after one. The Chiefs had outshot the Silvertips 13-6 through one, but Everett goalie Kent Simpson stopped every Spokane chance. Simpson was sharp again in the second, turning back all 8 Spokane shots to keep the Tips on top 1-0 after two. The second period may have been the dullest period of hockey I've seen two teams play in quiteee a while, as I found myself continually yawning...while talking. Not a good sign for an exciting tilt.
Fortunately for Chiefs fans, the boys got it going offensively in the third. Captain Darren Kramer got the Chiefs even after taking a great pass from Brenden Kichton and Kramer tucked it in the open net at 8:34. Spokane would go on the power play just 58 seconds later, and would convert just 9 seconds in as Kramer's rebound got to Mitch Holmberg's stick net front and the Chiefs took a 2-1 lead. Spokane would take over from there, and Uher would put in his second goal of the week from Kuhn in the last minute to wrap up a 3-1 win. It was an amazing comeback once again for Spokane, as they picked up their 3rd straight win after trailing late in the second period.
The Chiefs got a further boost during the weekend, as forward Liam Stewart and defenseman Tanner Mort returned back from injuries and made an immediate impact. Spokane is now just down defenseman Cole Hamblin on the injury list, so the team should start to build some consistency on the front and blue lines. Spokane gets a chance to rest up this week as well, as they play just two games this week, both at home. First up is the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night, then Everett is back for the second time in a week on Saturday. Both games will be at 7:05pm, and I'll have the call beginning with the pre-game show on 1510 KGA at 6:30pm. We hope to see you at the rink!