The Chiefs 6 game home stand had not exactly been the most productive for the team, as Spokane had lost 4 of the 6 contests. If there was good news to come out of it, the team had produced points in 4 of the 6 games. Spokane was now tied for 4th place in the U.S. Division with Portland and were 3 points back of third place Seattle. The week would begin with the team's only road game in the month of November as the Chiefs headed up to Kamloops for a re-match of Saturday's 6-4 loss at home. Spokane was farrrr from full strength as well, as the team left behind 4 players due to injury. Leading scorer Kailer Yamamoto and forward Ethan McIndoe had been hurt during the Kamloops game and remained behind in Spokane. Forward Tanner Wishnowski had been injured in practice earlier in the week, and fellow forward Markson Bechtold was still on the shelf. With those players out, the Chiefs called up forward Eli Zummack for the second time this season to help fill out the 20 man roster.
Spokane was going to have its' hands full with the Blazers even at full strength, but with so many key forwards out, the team was going to have to play a close to the vest style of hockey minimizing turnovers and having excellent puck management. A good start wouldn't hurt either, and the Chiefs got that on the second shift of the game. Ondrej Najman scored his second of the year just 48 seconds into the contest to put Spokane ahead 1-0. Pavel Kousal then notched a power play goal midway through the period to make it 2-0 Chiefs. Kamloops would pull within 2-1 on a goal late in the first after a blocked shot ended up on the stick of Blazer forward Rudolphs Balcers.
In the second, Kousal would notch his first multi goal game of his career when he converted a Keanu Yamamoto feed net front 5:24 into the period to give the Chiefs a 3-1 lead. Kamloops would cut the lead to 3-2 on a goal midway through the second, and Spokane would maintain the advantage to the third. In the final period, Spokane would hold the Blazers to just 6 shots. The Chiefs killed off the only power play in the period and were a perfect 4 for 4 on the penalty kill in the game after giving up 9 power play chances to Kamloops in the previous game Saturday. The win was a great bounce back for the team that was very short handed up front and gave the Chiefs a boost as they headed back to the Spokane Arena to open a 4 game home stand with Vancouver on Friday night.
Friday's match up was the only time the Giants would visit Spokane this season. Vancouver was coming off a 5-1 loss at Tri City on Wednesday, so they were looking to rebound against the Chiefs. Spokane got off to a good start on the 4 game home stand as the team scored on its' first power play of the night against the Giants, as Hudson Elyniuk scored on a rebound 5:08 in to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead. Vancouver answered right back on a Ty Ronning goal at 7:42 to even the game at one. Spokane would re-take the lead, and start a 9 goal run, as Hayden Ostir scored on the power play late in the first to give the Chiefs a 2-1 advantage after one. Little did I know the competitive phase of this contest was soon to come to an end. Taylor Ross would score the Chiefs third power play goal on a pass that went off a Giants defender and in the net just 1:25 into the second to make it a 3-1 game. Curtis Miske's unassisted goal 1:27 later would build the lead to 4-1, and when Jaret Anderson-Dolan fired a laser into the net midway through the period, Spokane carried a 5-1 lead to the third.
Spokane's power play was 3 for 5 through two and the Chiefs had 5 goals on just 15 shots. The third period would be one of the more memorable for the team thus far this season. Anderson-Dolan would start it with a highlight reel goal 4:50 in to give Spokane a 6-1 advantage. The Chiefs power play would notch the next two, as Elyniuk got his second of the night at 6:24, and then Eli Zummack scored his first career goal on the man advantage at 8:24 to put Spokane ahead 8-1. Elyniuk would get his first hat trick as a Chief with his second career short handed goal at 12:42 to give Spokane a 9-1 lead. Anderson-Dolan would cap the scoring with his second Chiefs hat trick at 16:07 to wrap up a convincing 10-1 victory. Anderson-Dolan had a 4 point night, while Elyniuk had a 5 point evening. Keanu Yamamoto took scoring honors though with 6 assists, just one off the team record of Maxim Bets in 1994 and only 2 from the league record. Spokane scored a season high 5 power play goals on just 7 attempts, while going a perfect 3 for 3 on the penalty kill.
It was one of those games you'd like to bottle up and re-use time and again. Sports don't work that way though, and the team had come out and try to come close to that success the next night at the Spokane Arena as they hosted the Edmonton Oil Kings. Edmonton had won the first game of their U.S. Division road trip with a 5-4 win in overtime at Tri City, but had dropped 3 straight since, averaging just 2 goals a game, including 2 in a 5-2 defeat at Everett the night before. The Chiefs were hoping to end the week a perfect 3-0 and go to 5-0 at home vs. Edmonton all time. The Oil Kings looked determined to change that as they scored on a breakaway early in the first to take a quick 1-0 lead. Spokane would come back and even things when Taylor Ross scored on a tough angle from the goal line midway through the period to make it a 1-1 game. The Chiefs would then take a 2-1 lead after one as Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored his 4th goal in 2 nights on a brilliant individual effort late in the period.
Edmonton would come out and score less than 2.5 minutes into the second period to tie the game at two, but the Chiefs Keanu Yamamoto would find the net on a rebound just 31 seconds later to give the lead back to Spokane at 3-2. Hudson Elyniuk would then score his second short handed goal in as many nights midway through the second to give the Chiefs a 4-2 advantage. The game would turn though in the final 3 minutes as Edmonton would score two goals to tie the game at 4 heading into the third period. The momentum gained by the Oil Kings at the end of the second would carry over into the third as Edmonton would notch two more goals in just 1:16 early in the period to go up 6-4. The Chiefs would counter with a power play goal from Anderson-Dolan off a 5 on 3 advantage midway through the third to cut the lead to 6-5. Spokane would pull goalie Dawson Weatherill with a minute and a half to go, but despite having a couple of good looks in the final minute, were unable to get the equalizer as the Oil Kings secured their first win in Spokane in franchise history with a 6-5 victory.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow after taking a two goal lead to the late second for Spokane. The defeat also snapped the Chiefs two game win streak and put Spokane two points back of Portland for 4th place in the U.S. Division. Spokane hopes to heal up and get forwards Kailer Yamamoto, Tanner Wishnowski and Markson Bechtold back in the lineup as there is now just 3 weeks left in the first half of the season. The team will also get a chance to make up some ground in the division as they host Portland on Wednesday. It will be a huge start to the week for the Chiefs as they will wrap up a 4 game home stand by entertaining the Kelowna Rockets on Friday before heading to Tri Cities to take on the Americans on Saturday. I'll have the call on 1510 KGA for the games on Wednesday and Friday, while Saturday's game will be on 103.9 FM the Bob. The pre-game shows start up at 6:30pm with the puck drops at 7:05pm. We hope to see you at the rink!