SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane's seven game home stand had not gone as well as anticipated in week one, as the Chiefs dropped 2 of 3 to fall into a tie for fourth place in the U.S. Division. Back to back losses to Portland and Prince Albert had put a damper on the opening weekend as Spokane was outscored 10-4 in the two defeats. The team was now a less than stellar 3-5 on their home ice as they welcomed Prince George and Everett to the Spokane Arena this past weekend. The Chiefs got good news as starting goalie Lukas Parik returned to the team after missing the past month with an injury. That news offset the loss of forward Jake McGrew, who was put on the injured list for the season after undergoing season ending knee surgery. Spokane's offense has been up and down since McGrew left the lineup, so the team made some changes up front as Prince George faced the Chiefs Saturday.
Spokane was meeting the Cougars for the final time this season after dropping two of the first three meetings with Prince George this season. The Chiefs had been shut down in the first two games, losing 3-1 and 2-1, before breaking through two weeks ago with a 5-2 victory in Prince George. The Chiefs shifted center Eli Zummack to the wing to join center Bear Hughes and wing Luke Toporowski, while Jack Finley joined Adam Beckman and Cordel Larson up front. Goalie Campbell Arnold started against the Cougars as Parik served as the back up. Saturday's game saw the Chiefs out shoot the Cougars 10-3 to start the game, but Prince George turned away 2 Spokane power plays to keep the game scoreless. After matching minor penalties led to a 4 on 4, the Chiefs broke through as Filip Kral scored on a perfect pass from Jack Finley to make it 1-0 Spokane after one.
The momentum carried over into the second as Eli Zummack scored on the power play just over 3 minutes in to put the Chiefs up 2-0. Kral then scored his second of the night at 7:44 to give Spokane a 3-0 advantage. The Chiefs then put the game away in the final two minutes of the period. Matt Leduc finished off a give and go with Larson at 18:22 to make it 4-0. Zummack then found an open Bear Hughes 37 seconds later to put Spokane up by 5, and then Brandon Reller tipped in a Noah King shot with just 2.3 seconds left to cap a 5 goal second to leave the Chiefs up 6-0 after 40 minutes. Arnold and the defense did the rest in the third, as Arnold picked up his first career shutout with a 27 save performance in a 6-0 victory. The Chiefs ended up splitting the season series with Prince George 2-2 and gained 2 points on third place Tri City and went 2 points up on Seattle in 4th as a result of Spokane's win.
Next up were the second place Everett Silvertips, who were 5 points up on the Chiefs in the standings after their win over Kamloops on Saturday. Spokane had dropped a disappointing 4-3 home decision to Everett in early October, giving up a third period lead in the process. Sunday's game also marked the return of Lukas Parik in net for Spokane as he faced the Silvertips for the first time. Everett broke through on Parik with a goal off a delayed penalty 7:10 into the game to take an early 1-0 lead. The Chiefs came right back as Adam Beckman scored his team leading 6th of the year on a Jack Finley feed just 35 seconds later to even the game at one. Spokane would then take their first lead of the game as Michael King scored on the power play with just 15 seconds left in the first to give the Chiefs a 2-1 advantage after one.
Spokane would out shoot Everett 13-11 in the second period, but the Silvertips pulled even late in the frame on a power play goal to send the game to the third even at 2-2. Everett would score on their second power play attempt early in the third period to re-take the lead at 3-2, but once again the Chiefs would quickly answer as Eli Zummack finished off a Luke Toporowski feed 17 seconds later to tie the game again at three. For the second time this season, the Chiefs headed to overtime and controlled the puck over the first minute of OT. A turnover on an ill advised pass led to Everett's Bryce Kindopp breaking in on net. Defenseman Bobby Russell hooked Kindopp drawing a penalty, as Kindopp's shot on net was turned away by Parik. It looked as if the Silvertips were going on the power play, but the referee awarded the Silvertips a penalty shot. It was a questionable call at best, and Everett would take advantage as Kindopp scored 1:23 into overtime to give the Tips a 4-3 victory. It was the second one goal loss at home to Everett and came in a game the Chiefs controlled most of the play. Spokane out shot Everett 40-25 in the contest, but an 0 for 2 performance on the penalty kill severely damaged the Chiefs chances for a win. Spokane gained a point in the standings, but still remained 4th in the division, 6 points back of the first place Silvertips.
Spokane is now a meager 2-3 on their season high seven game home stand, as they now have to win the final two games to end 4-3. The Chiefs are just 4-6 on home ice this season, the biggest reason the team is towards the bottom of the division rather than the top. Spokane will be home for most of November, so it is essential the club finds a way to start winning consistently before they head out on the road for most of December. The Chiefs only have 4 road games in November, while they only have 3 at home in December. Six points out of first is not a huge deficit, but if it becomes 10 or 12, it will be pretty difficult to overcome in a competitive U.S. Division.
Spokane will be home for the third straight week as they host Everett once again on Friday before entertaining B.C. Division co-leader Kelowna on Saturday. I'll have the call on 103.5 FM the Game and 1510 AM KGA starting with the pre-game shows at 6:30 pm and the puck drops at 7:05 pm. Let's hope the Chiefs can finish off the home stand strong against two of the top teams in the West and we hope to see you at the rink!