The previous week had ended with a thud for the Chiefs as they coughed up a 2 goal third period lead in a loss at home to Tri City. The defeat had set Spokane in third in the U.S. Division behind Portland and Tri in the standings, Things would not get any easier for the club either, as the Chiefs welcomed the #9 team in the latest Canadian Hockey League poll in the Moose Jaw Warriors Wednesday night at the Spokane Arena. Spokane had enjoyed success against the Warriors over the last 4 seasons, winning 4 straight since suffering a loss at Moose Jaw in the 2012-13 season. The Chiefs not only knew the Warriors would be anxious to stop that streak, but Moose Jaw was coming off just their second loss of the year the night before at Kootenay by a 2-1 score.
The Warriors looked determined to hand the Chiefs their second straight loss as the Moose Jaw scored just 7:44 into the game to take an early 1-0 lead. Spokane would come back behind their power play, which had plenty of struggles in the first 3 weeks of the season. Hudson Elynuik would convert a Riley Woods pass at 13:45 of the first to tie the game at one. The Chiefs then converted their second straight man advantage against the top penalty kill unit in the league when Nolan Reid's shot from the left wing found the net at 17:25 to give Spokane a 2-1 lead after one. The Chiefs Dawson Weatherill turned aside all 12 Moose Jaw shots in the second as Spokane maintained the lead through 40 minutes. In the third, the Chiefs would hold the Warriors to just 6 shots, but had to fend off an open net attempt in the final minutes to hold on for a 2-1 victory.
Spokane was out shot in the contest 28-26, but won the special teams battle going 2-4 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill. In picking up their 2nd win out of 3 so far on the home stand, the Chiefs had perhaps played their best defensive game of the season. The day after the win, the team made a major move as they traded forward Hayden Ostir, defenseman Eric Van Impe and a 2nd round pick in 2019 to the Medicine Hat Tigers for 20 year old forward Zach Fischer. Fischer, scored 34 goals last season for the Tigers, and will be a major weapon up front for the team going forward. By adding Fischer, the team had to release forward Rykr Cole to meet their 20 year old limit of three. If Kailer Yamamoto is returned by Edmonton to the Chiefs, Fischer will be a real addition with Jaret Anderson-Dolan on a front line that will be able to hold their own with Portland and Tri City's top lines.
The Chiefs finished off their 4 game home stand by hosting the Kamloops Blazers on Friday. Kamloops had started the season in a word...awful. The Blazers had dropped 9 straight to start the year, and franchise record. Kamloops had bounced back though, winning two straight in Prince George as they met Spokane for the first time this season. Last year, the Blazers had won 3 of 4, including sweeping two straight at the Spokane Arena. Kamloops was on their heels early on Wednesday though as they took a penalty just 21 seconds into the game. The Blazers killed off the Chiefs power play though, and then responded by scoring on their first...and only man advantage of the period...to take a 1-0 lead after the first. Spokane out shot Kamloops 15-10 in the first, but went 0-3 on the power play.
In the second, Spokane would shake off their power play struggles as Nolan Reid scored for the second straight game with the extra man 7:55 into the period to tie the game at one. Filip Kral, who had set up Reid's goal, then scored his second goal in 3 games at 10:23 to give Spokane a 2-1 lead. That margin held up until late in the second, as Kamloops got the puck deep and scored net front at 17:49 to tie the game at two after two. The Chiefs had pretty much controlled the second period, so to come out of it in a tie was a real disappointment.
The third period would see Spokane control much of the period again, but Blazer goalie Dylan Ferguson would come up with the save of the game on a Hudson Elynuik shot in the final minute, and then breathed a sigh of relief when Cedric Chenier's rebound hit the post and bounced out. The two clubs headed into overtime and Spokane would dominate the five minute period. The Chiefs got a power play chance 1:54 in, and looked to have won the game when Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored over a minute later. Unfortunately for Spokane, the Chiefs were called for interfering with the Ferguson trying to play the puck and the game headed to a shootout. Ferguson, who had made 9 of his 40 saves in the OT, continued his stellar play in the shootout as he denied both Chiefs attempts. Kamloops meantime would score on both of theirs to come away with the 3-2 victory. Spokane got one point in the standings with the shootout loss, and still found themselves in third place in the U.S. Division, 5 back of leader Portland, and 1 back of Tri City as the Chiefs headed to Alberta to open their 4 game road trip in Edmonton on Sunday.
The Oil Kings had also played in a shootout on Friday, knocking off Prince George to move themselves into second in the Central Division. In last season's match up, Edmonton had won for the first time in franchise history in Spokane as they knocked off the Chiefs 6-5. Sunday's meeting would be the Chiefs first at the Oil Kings home at Rogers Place, where current Chief Kailer Yamamoto is making a strong case to stay in the NHL. Spokane came out looking like they wanted to join their teammate in Edmonton as the Chiefs jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 5:04 into the game on a Hudson Elynuik goal from Riley Woods. The Chiefs would make it 2-0 in the final minute of the period on an Ethan McIndoe power play goal from Elyniuik and Jaret Anderson-Dolan as Spokane out shot Edmonton 12-6 in the first.
The second period would end up deciding this contest, as the Chiefs would seize control of the game with one of their better periods of the year. Anderson-Dolan would extend the lead to 3-0 with his fourth goal of the year on Cedric Chenier's first career assist at 8:01 of the period. Nolan Reid would stretch the lead to 4-0 with a power play goal at 11:38 from Woods and Filip Kral as Reid extended his goal scoring streak to 3 in a row. Kral's assist moved his point scoring streak to 5 as he has scored in every game for the Chiefs. Elynuik would cap a 3 goal second with his second tally of the night at 18:29 from Smith as Spokane took a commanding 5-0 lead into the third. The Chiefs would cap the scoring on Woods 6th of the season, tying Elynuik for the team lead, at 3:56 of the third to go up 6-0. Elynuik topped off a 4 point night with an assist, and Zach Fischer scored his first point for Spokane in his second game with the other helper on Woods goal.
All that was left to be seen was whether goalie Dawson Weatherill could pick up his first career shutout. He would do so as he turned back all 22 Edmonton shots as Spokane out shot the Oil Kings 32-22 in the contest. The Chiefs special teams were excellent, going 2-4 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill. It was a terrific start to the road trip for Spokane, as the win pulled them within 1 point of second place Tri City and 3 behind first place Portland. It was nice for the club to get the results on the scoreboard after playing well, unlike their previous game with Kamloops. Now the goal is to keep it rolling as the Chiefs look forward to the next 3 games on the trip this week. Spokane will visit Calgary on Tuesday, Medicine Hat Wednesday and Red Deer on Friday at 6 pm Pacific Time. It will no doubt be challenging, but if the Chiefs can play like they have the past 3 games, they'll give themselves a great chance of getting some wins. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA for all three games with the pre-game shows starting at 5:30 pm. We'll see you on the radio!
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