The Chiefs had started as well as they could have hoped with a two game sweep in Prince George last weekend, and the club was hoping to repeat the feat as they entered the second week of the season by taking on the Kootenay Ice in a home and home weekend series. Spokane trimmed the roster by two during the week, as they released goalie Declan Hobbs and forward Adam Beckman. The release of Hobbs meant Donovan Buskey is now the back-up in net for Dawson Weatherill. The Chiefs got good news as well, as their second leading scorer from last season, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, returned from L.A. Kings camp in the NHL. That move leaves the Chiefs with just Kailer Yamamoto still in NHL camps.
Spokane would be taking on a Kootenay squad that won 2 of 5 from the Chiefs last year in route to the worst record in the Western Hockey League. The Ice went through an ownership change during the off-season and overhauled the coaching staff, adding former Chiefs assistant Jon Klemm on the bench. One thing Spokane knows in their match-ups with Kootenay is the Ice will play hard against the Chiefs and weekend would be more of the same. Game one Friday night in Cranbrook would see the Ice jump out to a 2-0 lead after one as Kootenay out shot the Chiefs 14-12 in the first in going 1-3 on the power play. The second period didn't prove to be much better for Spokane as the Ice scored their second power play tally from Alec Baer midway through the period to go up 3-0. A rebound goal from Peyton Krebs at 14:50 made it a 4-0 game and it looked like a rout. The Chiefs would get three power play chances late, five total in the period, but only manage to score once, as Ty Smith put home his second of the season at 17:10 to cut the margin to 4-1 after two.
The Chiefs had failed to score on a pair of 5 on 3 chances in their 5 power play chances and it looked like those failed opportunities would cost Spokane in the end. Spokane did get on the board early in the third on a Riley McKay shot just over 6 minutes into period to make it a 4-2 contest. Kootenay looked to seal the deal though on their 3rd power play goal of the night midway through the third to take a 5-2 lead. Back would come the Chiefs as Riley Woods would score unassisted at 11:31 of the third to cut the margin to 5-3. Anderson-Dolan then got the Chiefs within one as he scored his first at 14:45 to bring the Chiefs within one at 5-4. Spokane would Weatherill from net in the final two minutes and with the extra skater on, the Chiefs would pull even with 30.9 seconds remaining as Woods scored his second of the period to send the game into overtime.
As you would expect, Kootenay and their crowd were stunned by the comeback, and the Chiefs would make it complete when Rykr Cole took a Hudson Elynuik pass and ripped home a slap shot at 1:59 of overtime to give Spokane a come from behind 6-5 victory. It was an improbable a comeback as I've witnessed in my 16 years with the Chiefs. The only other one that compares is one the Chiefs rallied at home against Seattle with a 5 goal third and then won in overtime about 5 years ago. The win pushed Spokane to a 3-0 start and I would think would give the Chiefs momentum heading into the re-match the next night at the Spokane Arena. The game would mark the Chiefs home opener, their first against Kootenay since 2004.
Saturday's game would start like Friday's, with the Ice grabbing the early lead as Kootenay scored one second after their first power play of the game expired at 6:31 of the first period to take a 1-0 advantage. That lead held through 20 minutes, as the Chiefs put up just 4 shots in a flat offensive performance in the first. Kootenay would expand the lead to 2-0 midway through the second as the puck popped away from goalie Weatherill and Krebs scored his second in as many nights for the the Ice. Spokane would counter at 15:24 as Hayden Ostir tipped a shot from Ty Smith to bring the Chiefs within 2-1 after two. After being down by 3 entering the third the night before, a one goal deficit didn't seem to be much. It turns out it was for Spokane, as the Chiefs got away just 6 shots in the third...and a season low 17 on the game. The power play was 0-6 on the night, capping a 1-12 performance over the weekend against Kootenay. Needless to say, it was a disappointing performance in front of over 8,000 fans.
One thing is for sure, the offensive output will have to be a lott better this week when the Chiefs entertain a pair of U.S. Division rivals to the Spokane Arena. Last year's division champs, the Everett Silvertips come calling on Wednesday, while the favorites in the division this season, the Portland Winterhawks come to town on Friday. It's the first games within the division for Spokane, so we'll see how the team stacks up early with two of the top teams they'll have to overcome this season to make the playoffs. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA with the pre-game shows at 6:30pm and the puck drops at 7:05pm. We hope to see you at the rink!
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