SPOKANE, Wash. — The opening three weeks of the season for the Chiefs has been a bit of a roller coaster ride thus far. After opening the year with 3 straight losses at home, the team had rebounded by winning 2 of 3 on the road, the latest a shutout effort at Tri City that had lifted Spokane into a tie for third in the U.S. Division.
After picking up their first shutout of the year at Tri City last Friday, Spokane now had a chance to ensure a winning road trip on their 5 game road swing if they could pick up their first win over division rival Seattle on Tuesday night. The Thunderbirds had handed Spokane a 5-3 loss back at the Spokane Arena at October 8th, giving the Chiefs their 3rd straight loss to open the season. The club now had an opportunity to avenge that loss as they headed over Snoqualmie Pass for the first time this year to take on the Thunderbirds in Kent.
Spokane went back to goalie Mason Beaupit in goal, as he was coming off his first career shutout in the win at Tri City last Friday night. Unfortunately for Beaupit and the Chiefs, any hopes of a second straight shutout were quickly squashed in Seattle. The T-Birds scored on a rebound just 3:13 into the game to jump out to a 1-0 lead. Seattle would make it 2-0 on a penalty shot midway through the period and would take that 2 goal lead into the second. Things didn't improve in the second, as Seattle would score on a shot from the red line at mid ice midway through the frame as the shot somehow eluded Beaupit's glove to give the Thunderbirds a 3-0 advantage. Spokane would answer back quickly though as Grady Lane would notch his first career goal just 32 seconds later to put the Chiefs on the board at 3-1.
Seattle came right back with a power play goal in the opening minute of the third to go back up by 3 at 4-1. The Thunderbirds would help Spokane get back in the game with a turnover in front of their own net that Erik Atchison cashed in on by scoring his second goal of the year at 2:42 of third to bring the Chiefs within 4-2. Seattle would commit a 5 minute major penalty for charging less than 5 minutes later, and Spokane would get Blake Swetlikoff's first goal of the season on that power play to cut Seattle's lead to 4-3 midway through the third.
The Chiefs had just under 3 minutes of power play time to tie the game, but would fail to take advantage of the opportunity. Spokane would have to kill off 2 Seattle power plays after that and would successfully do so. Seattle would put the game away though after a Chiefs turnover at Spokane's blue line led to a breakaway goal with less than 2.5 minutes remaining. Spokane would drop their second straight to Seattle by a 5-3 margin as the Thunderbirds moved 2 points ahead of Spokane in the standings. The Chiefs then set out to finish the five game road trip on a winning note as they looked to get their third straight win at Tri City to start the season. Spokane had begun the road trip with a 5-1 win in Kennewick and then had won game 3 by shutting out the Americans 3-0. Those represented the only wins for the team to start the year, so the Chiefs were hoping their third straight trip down Highway 395 would be just as beneficial.
The team made news this past week when goalie Campbell Arnold was dealt to Victoria for a 3rd round draft pick in 2023. The trade made it official that 18 year old Mason Beaupit will be the #1 goalie for the Chiefs this season, with 17 year old Manny Panghli the back up. Arnold became a tough luck victim of circumstances beyond his control in Spokane. In 2019-20, he served as the back up to Lukas Parik. While Parik was as World Junior, Arnold tore his ACL in his right knee to sideline him for the second half of the season. Covid would cancel the end of the '20 campaign and then postpone the start of the '21 season. Arnold was the #1 guy in the 21 game shortened season, but never established himself at the #1 as Beaupit took major strides in his game during the campaign. This season, Arnold had been up and down, while Beaupit had established himself to be more consistent and also notched the team's only shutout of the year. Arnold will now get to head closer to home and vie for the #1 job with Victoria and I'm sure he's looking forward to facing his old teammates when the Chiefs come to Victoria the second weekend of November.
Mason Beaupit made his first start as the #1 goalie in the final game of a 5 game road trip for the Chiefs as they club traveled for the 3rd time on the road swing to the Tri Cities. Things didn't start well for Beaupit or the Chiefs as Tri scored just over 3 minutes into the game to take a quick 1-0 lead. Spokane would come back and tie things up as leading goal scorer Luke Toporowski scored late in the first to make it 1-1. Tri City answered right back with a rebound goal net front less than 2 minutes later to take at 2-1 lead at the end of the first period. The Chiefs were out shot 16-15 in the frame while having to kill off 3 Americans power plays.
Spokane appeared to have tied the game on a Michael Cicek tip in early in the second, but after a lengthy review, the goal was disallowed. The delay appeared to fuel the Chiefs though, as less than a minute after the review, Mac Gross scored his 3rd goal of the year to tie the game at two. Just 21 seconds later, Grady Lane scored his second goal in as many games to give Spokane their first lead at 3-2. The Chiefs then got a 5 on 3 power play after back to back minor penalties on Tri City, the second of which came on a hit on Bear Hughes well away from the play. Hughes was checked into the wall in front of the Tri City bench and would have to leave the game. It marked the third straight game the team had lost a forward to an illegal hit. Spokane did take advantage on the 5 on 3 as Cordel Larson scored his first of the year to make it a 4-2 game. Ty Cheveldayoff then fired home a shot from the left circle as Jake Gudelj and Brayden Crampton got their first career points on the assists as Spokane led it 5-2. Cicek then got official credit for his first career goal at 16:22 to cap a five goal second period as Spokane took a 6-2 advantage into the third period. The Chiefs out shot Tri City 23-5 in the middle 20 in probably their best period of hockey this season.
Luke Toporowski then capped a three point night with his second goal of the game late in the third to give Spokane a 7-2 lead. Tri City would cap the scoring on a power play goal in the final 5 seconds, but the Chiefs secured their 3rd straight win in Kennewick with a 7-3 victory. Spokane moved into a tie for third in the division with Portland with the win and now trail first place Everett by 5 points and second place Seattle by 3 in the U.S. The club will now get to head home for a 4 game home stand against the division leading Silvertips and second place Thunderbirds over the next two weeks. The home stand starts with Seattle at the Spokane Arena on Friday and then Everett in town Saturday at 7:05 pm. 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.
Let's hope the injury to Hughes isn't too severe as his loss would mean the team will be down 3 forwards for the near future, and the Chiefs need as many on hand as possible if they hope to gain ground on Everett and Seattle. Here's to good healing and we hope to see you at the rink!