While the Chiefs had played relatively well in the first two games of their three game home stand, they had nothing to show for it in the win column as the team had dropped an overtime decision to Everett and lost in a shootout to Portland. The good news was Spokane had picked up a point in each of the losses, but with a 6 game road trip through a very tough Eastern Division looming, the Chiefs needed to get a win in their final game of the home stand as they hosted Everett once again on Tuesday night at the Spokane Arena. Spokane would go with Dawson Weatherill in goal for the second straight game and would welcome a newcomer to the lineup as the team acquired forward Tanner Wishnowski the day before from the Kelowna Rockets.
It wouldn't take long for either player to make an impact in the contest against the Silvertips. Midway through the first period, Wishnowski would get the puck to Tyson Helgesen, whose shot would be tipped by Kailer Yamamoto past Everett goalie Carter Hart at 9:20 of the first period to give Spokane a 1-0 lead. The Chiefs would extend the margin at 16:18 of the period when Yamamoto's pass to Jaret Anderson-Dolan was swatted into the net out of mid air to make it 2-0 Spokane after one. Weatherill meantime was sensational, denying the Tips on a 3 on 0 net front after a Chiefs turnover at their own blueline. Everett would break through in the second on a Patrick Bajkov goal off the rush at 16:01 of the second, but the Chiefs would shut down 2 Everett power plays in the period to take the one goal lead to the third.
Weatherill and the Chiefs defense would get tested in the third as the Tips got off 10 of the 16 shots in the period, but Spokane buckled down and held off an Everett extra skater in the final two minutes to hand the Silvertips just their 2nd loss in regulation this season at 2-1. Spokane was out shot 27-23 and generated just 2 power plays in the game, but the Chiefs penalty kill went a perfect 3-3 and Weatherill made the saves when the team needed them most. It was a great way to end the home stand for Spokane as well, as the team took a 3 point lead over Seattle for 4th in the U.S. Division, and stayed 4 points back of Tri City for third. Wishnowski was impressive in his debut, getting 2 assists in his first game, and his performance softened the blow of losing center Hudson Elyniuk to a three game suspension after his charging major the previous Friday against Everett.
With the win under their belt, the Chiefs got on the bus Wednesday and headed East for their longest road trip of the season. The team will cover over 3,000 miles in an 11 day period as they take on probably the best division overall in the WHL this year. First up was the top team in the league, the Regina Pats. The Pats were ranked the #2 team in the entire Canadian Hockey League, and were the only team in the league to be unbeaten in regulation, having gone 7-0-3 through 10 games. Last season Regina ran over the Chiefs at the Arena 7-2, so Spokane knew they would have their hands full to start off the trip. If there was one thing the Chiefs could lean on, it was the fact all 3 Regina losses had come on their home ice, including one to Portland in the Winterhawks trip East. The Chiefs though, hadn't fared well against the Pats of late, having lost 3 straight and had not beaten Regina since December of 2012 in an overtime win in Regina.
The chances of ending the streak didn't start so well for the Chiefs either, as the Pats scored 6 1/2 minutes into the game to take a 1-0 lead. Spokane did respond though, as Curtis Miske's power play goal at 14:59 tied the game at one after the first period. The second period would be a disaster for the Chiefs though, as the Chiefs gave up, not one...not two..but threeeee short handed goals to fall behind 4-1. Austin Wagner was a one man show as he netted the first two shorties at 3:41 and again at 10:52 to give the Pats a 3-1 advantage. Regina would score 1:22 after Wagner's second goal for another short handed marker to take a 4-1 lead after two. Talk about deflating. The Chiefs would cut the lead in half on an Ethan McIndoe power play goal at 5:21 of the third period; his first goal of the season. That goal would make things interesting for a while, but the Chiefs failed to score again as they fell in the first game of the road trip 4-2.
Spokane was outshot 26-14 over the final 40 minutes, and while going 2-6 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill were good; giving up 3 short handed goals in a game...let alone a period! was just too much to overcome. Things were not going to get any easier for the team either, as the team with the second most short handed goals in the league behind Regina were waiting the next night...the defending league champion Brandon Wheat Kings. Brandon had started slowly, sitting in 5th in their division, but showed they were awakening with a resounding 6-1 win over Lethbridge the night before at home. The Chiefs knew if they had any chance of getting their second straight win in Brandon, they would have to tighten up the mistakes they had made the night before against Regina.
The Chiefs would start Dawson Weatherill in net against the Wheat Kings after his superlative outing against Everett on Tuesday. Things didn't start well for Weatherill or the Chiefs in the first as Ty Lewis went around defenseman Jordan Henderson and got a shot off Evan Fiala's stick. The puck waffled in the air over Weatherill's shoulder and into the net 3:39 into the game to give Brandon a 1-0 lead. The Chiefs turned things up offensively for the rest of the period and had two shots hit the post or cross bar, but were unable to get on the board as the Wheat Kings held a 1-0 lead after one.
For the second straight night, the second period would decide things for Spokane. After killing off a Brandon power play for 31 seconds to start the period, Lewis would score his second of the game off a rebound 33 seconds into the second to make it 2-0 Wheaties. Connor Gutenberg would then tally at the 1:05 mark to put Brandon up 3-0 and spell the end of the night for Weatherill. Jayden Sittler came on in relief, but it didn't matter to Lewis, who secured his hat trick with a power play goal late in the second to give the Wheat Kings a 4-0 advantage. Then the old short handed bug struck the Chiefs again, as Reid Duke rifled a shot past Sittler while the Chiefs were on the power play in the final 2 minutes of the period to cap a 4 goal stanza and give Brandon a commanding 5-0 lead after two.
That pretty much was the end of the night, but the Wheat Kings would tally yet another short handed goal in the third on Gutenberg's second of the evening, and the Chiefs would end up getting shut out for the first time this season as Brandon handed the Chiefs a 6-0 whitewashing. Needless to say, Spokane is now 0-2 on the road trip, getting outscored 10-2 and giving 5 of those goals short handed. The team is in danger of a free fall as they have now dropped 4 of their last 5 contests. Things will not get any easier for the squad either, as Spokane faces a 4 games in 5 nights stretch through the East beginning next Tuesday in Moose Jaw. Spokane will then travel to Saskatoon for a game Wednesday, before finishing the journey with games in Prince Albert Friday and Swift Current Saturday.
It's going to be a grueling stretch for the team against some clubs that are playing well right now. I said before the trip if the team can go 2-4 on this trip, that will be a good trip. Now the Chiefs have to go 2-2 to make that happen. Let's see if the club can get it going as the team knows it will head home to play 9 of 10 in Spokane in the month of November. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA for the games this week. All 4 games next week will be at the same times, with the pre-game shows at 5:30pm Pacific time and the puck drops at 6pm. Easy for an old radio guy like me to remember...and that's a good thing. We hope to see you on the radio!