The first weekend of October was a bit of calm between two storms for the Chiefs. After playing 3 games in 3 nights in 3 different cities that covered close to 700 miles in travel, and with a 6 games in 9 nights Eastern Division swing looming next week, Spokane got the chance to take a bit of 'break' in the schedule with back to back home games. After winning their home opener over Kootenay out of the Central Division, the Chiefs welcomed two more teams from the Central to the Spokane Arena as Medicine Hat and Edmonton came to town for their bi-annual journeys to the Lilac City.
Spokane was coming off a challenging 3 game weekend in which the team took 5 out of a possible 6 points, losing their last game in Vancouver in a shootout. Now the Chiefs faced two teams that were going in opposite directions in the win-loss column. Medicine Hat had dropped 5 straight since winning their opener, while Edmonton had soared to the top of the Central with a 5-0 start to their season. Spokane was still without forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who had made the NHL's L.A. Kings opening night roster, and defenseman Filip Kral, who was still out due to injury. The Chiefs were without forward Jake McGrew in the Vancouver loss after he took a shot to the mouth the previous weekend, but McGrew was back in the lineup when the club hosted Medicine Hat Friday.
The Tigers came into the game 15th in the league on the power play, but scored on their first man advantage just over 3 minutes into the game to take a 1-0 lead. The Chiefs seemed to sleep walk through the first half of the first period, getting out shot 6-0 at one point, but seemed to come to life with about 7 minutes left in the stanza. Spokane put up 20 of the last 24 shots between the two teams, and the pressure paid off when Ethan McIndoe scored his first of the year with just under 3 minutes left to tie the game at one after the first. The Tigers would re-take the lead as they scored on their second power play of the night early in the second to go up 2-1 after two. Spokane would pull goalie Bailey Brkin in the final minute and a half and the move paid off as Riley Woods with the extra skater on with just 1:05 remaining to tie the game at two and force overtime.
In the OT, Spokane had to kill off a Medicine Hat power play for the first 1:42 after taking a delay of game penalty towards the end of regulation. The Chiefs got their first penalty kill of the contest to force a scoreless extra period and Spokane went to a shootout for the second straight game. Neither team scored in the first two rounds. After McGrew hit the cross bar to start round 3, the Tigers won the shootout, and the game, as Josh Williams beat Brkin through the pads to give Medicine Hat a 3-2 shootout victory. Spokane suffered their second straight shootout loss and are now a woeful 2-9 in shootouts since the 2016-17 season. Suffice to say, the Chiefs are probably the happiest team in the league there are no shootouts in the playoffs.
After the disappointing loss, Spokane had to get right back on the ice and try to snap their two game losing streak against the Central Division leading Edmonton Oil Kings. After their 5-0 start, the Oil Kings had dropped 2 straight, including a shootout loss the previous night at Kootenay. It was apparent both teams were desperate for a win and they would play like it. The Chiefs would score just over 3.5 minutes into the game on Adam Beckman's 4th goal of his rookie year, and his 3rd in last 3 games, to take a 1-0 lead. Edmonton would tie the game at one midway through the period on a partial breakaway but Spokane would answer with a McGrew power play goal with 3.5 minutes left in the first to take a 2-1 lead.
In the second period, Edmonton would re-tie the game on a breakaway off a 4 on 4. The Chiefs would counter late in the period as Eli Zummack scored his second of the season with 5:05 left in the second to take a 3-2 advantage after the middle 40. Spokane would be tested in the third as the Chiefs had to kill off 2 Edmonton power plays and were out shot 11-8 in the period, but goalie Bailey Brkin and the defense kept the Oil Kings off the board as the team ended their two game losing streak with a 3-2 victory. After going just 1-3 on the penalty kill the night before, the Chiefs were 5-5 against the 8th rated power play in the league entering the night. Spokane was also able to deliver a power play goal against the #2 penalty kill in the WHL and won the special teams battle to defeat the Central Division leaders in their first game of their U.S. Division swing.
The Chiefs now get ready for their longest road trip of the year as they head out on a 6 games in 9 nights journey through the Eastern Division. The team will cover nearly 2,500 miles and spend almost 40 hours on the bus over an 11 day trip before the Chiefs come back to the Spokane Arena. Spokane will play in Swift Current Friday and Moose Jaw on Saturday to start the trek, before heading to Brandon, Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert to complete the longest trip the team takes every two years. I'll have the call from Swift and Moose Jaw with the pre-game shows at 5:30pm Pacific time and the puck drops at 6pm Pacific. We hope to see you on the radio!