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CHIEFS BLOG: Chiefs return home to host top 2 teams in their division

The Chiefs will have to find their offense ahead of home ice stretch.
Credit: Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs

SPOKANE, Wash. — It's been 3 weeks since the Chiefs had seen their home ice as they had gone on a season long 5 game road trip after opening the campaign with three straight losses at home. The 5 game road swing had proven to be productive for Spokane as the club won 3 out of the 5 contests to move themselves into a tie for third in the U.S. Division. The success on the ice had been overshadowed though as the club lost 3 of their top forwards to injury. Reed Jacobson was the first to go down with a broken leg in a win at Tri City. Yannick Proske then was shelved with a concussion at Seattle, and then Bear Hughes departed the last game of the road trip with an upper body injury at Tri. 

Not exactly the news the team wanted to deal with less than 9 games into the season, especially with tough stretch of 5 games coming up against the top two teams in the division in Seattle and Everett.

First up were the second place Thunderbirds, who had beaten the Chiefs by a pair of 5-3 scores in the first 3 weeks of the campaign. Spokane lost the first game at home when Seattle scored 2 goals late in the third to snap a 3-3 tie, and then the Thunderbirds got out to 3-0 and 4-1 leads before holding off the Chiefs in Seattle last week. Spokane got further bad news shortly before their Friday game with Seattle when starting goalie Mason Beaupit was unable to play due to a minor injury. Back up Manny Panghli got his first start of the season hoping to contain a T-Birds club coming off a 6-4 win at Portland on Wednesday. 

Panghli was in mid-season form as he came out with a couple of big saves in the first period as the two teams battled to a scoreless draw in the first 20 minutes. Panghli continued his stellar play into the 2nd as he made 11 saves in the frame to keep it 0-0 into the late second. Seattle would get a power play chance with less than 3 minutes left and would convert with 2:11 remaining to take a 1-0 lead. Seattle would then strike again with just 37 seconds remaining to get a huge insurance goal to go up 2-0 after two. In the third, a Chiefs turnover in their own zone led to an easy goal almost 7 minutes into the stanza to give the Thunderbirds a 3-0 advantage. Seattle then sealed the game with their 4th goal with just over 5 minutes left to go up 4-0. Spokane would avert the shutout as Graham Sward scored short handed with less than 4 minutes left but the Chiefs would lose their third straight to Seattle and 4th in a row at home by a score of 4-1. 

The loss dropped the club into 4th in the U.S. Division, but the biggest loss for the Chiefs came on the ice on the injury front. Spokane lost forwards Erik Atchison and Grady Lane by the early second period as the team is now down 4 forwards up front. With Reed Jacobson and Hughes still on the shelf, Spokane's entire second line is now out injured. While putting up 29 shots against Seattle, the Chiefs only generated 2 power plays and scored 1 goal. The team's challenges on offense would not be helped as they welcomed the division leading Everett Silvertips to the Arena the next night. Everett was coming off a shootout loss at home to Portland the night before after losing a 3 goal lead in the second period and a two goal lead in the third. Spokane knew the Silvertips would not be a good mood after losing their first game of the year the night before. 

Saturday was the second meeting of the year between Spokane and Everett. The Chiefs lost the first match up in the club's second game of the season with a 4-3 overtime loss. It had been the closest the Silvertips had come to losing a game until their shootout loss to Portland the night before. The Chiefs went back to Manny Panghli in goal after his fine performance the night before. Everett wasted little time getting to Panghli as Ryan Hofer banged home a goal inside the post on a rebound just over 3.5 minutes in to give the Silvertips an early 1-0 lead. Despite being outshot 8-3 in the first and generating little offensively, Spokane was just down by one heading into the second period. Things began to fall apart for the Chiefs midway through the second period when the Tips scored two goals just 1:13 apart midway through the stanza to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Spokane would get on the board at 12:15 on a nice goal from the low left circle from Blake Swetlikoff to cut the margin to 3-1 after two periods.

The Chiefs got a power play opportunity early in the third to get within a goal, but were unable to generate much on the man advantage. Spokane's offense was held in check all game long as the team managed a season low 15 shots over the 60 minutes, while Everett put up 29. The Silvertips would put the game away with Michal Gut's second goal of the game at 16:25 as the Chiefs suffered their second straight 4-1 home loss. Everett's win kept them tied for first in the U.S. Division with Seattle, while the Chiefs loss kept them in 4th, 8 points back of the division leaders. Spokane is now 0-4-1 at home as the continue to battle the injury bug. The Chiefs are without their entire second line as forwards Reed Jacobson, Bear Hughes and Erik Atchison are out, and 3rd line winger Grady Lane is also out for the near future. Spokane only has 10 healthy forwards at this point as defenseman Ben Bonni had to skate up front in Sunday's tilt with Everett. The shortage up front has been felt as the team has managed just 2 goals on 44 shots over 2 games. More importantly, the club has only generated 5 power play chances in the 2 home losses.

Things are not going to get any easier for Spokane either, as the team will finish up their 4 game home stand with two games with the Silvertips on Friday and Saturday. The Chiefs will still be without Jacobson and probably Lane, while awaiting word on Hughes and Atchison. The club will have to find some offense, and soon, if they hope to avoid a winless home stand. Let's hope the team finds a winning formula against the division leaders as the Chiefs will be heading out on a 3 game road trip the following week. I'll have the call of this weekend's games 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. Here's to the power of healing with the Chiefs lineup and we hope to see you at the rink!