Chiefs return from COVID |

Offensive fighting and poor penalties resulted in the Chiefs losing two games in a row to Seattle and Everett.

SPOKANE, Wash. – Tests positive for Covid-19 by two Chiefs players in early November resulted in the club ceasing activities for several days and preventing the team from playing a game for 13 days. I wondered how an unplanned break like this would go for the team as they got the go-ahead this week to resume play with games against Seattle at home and Everett on the road. If the news was good, Spokane’s injury-stricken striker had a chance for extra healing time and, in the case of Bear Hughes, a chance to get back on the ice and play again. The bad news, however, was that the Chiefs had to shake off consecutive nights against the division’s top two teams in Seattle and Everett for the past week. Spokane hadn’t done well against the Thunderbirds and Silvertips and went a combined 0-5-2 against these two when they returned home on the ice against Seattle on Friday.

The home crowd was delighted with the Chiefs’ return, but the cheers quickly ended when just 15 seconds after the game a failed clear by Spokane from their own zone led to a Connor Roulette goal that gave Seattle a 1-0 lead very early on brought. Goalkeeper Mason Beaupit was besieged in the first game when the T-Birds shot Spokane 19-3 in the first 20 minutes. Fortunately for the Chiefs, Beaupit quickly recovered from that opening goal and kept Spokane 1-0 after one in the game. The Chiefs fed on Beaupit’s game in the second when the newest Chief Carter Streek, who was acquired by Saskatoon earlier this week, scored his first goal of his WHL career with 3:54 in time to level the game to one . Top scorer Luke Toporowski then put the Chiefs 2-1 ahead with his 7th of the year at 8:09 a.m. Braden Plaschewsky, another newly won Chief, followed 15 seconds later with his first goal for Spokane and suddenly the Chiefs were leading 3-1. Seattle would score late in the second, but from a face-off to reduce the lead to 3-2.

Just as it looked like the Chiefs were going to take that lead to third place, Spokane would take a 5-minute major penalty at 6:02 p.m. to get Seattle into a 5-minute power play. Spokane’s penalty kill would end the major penalty at the end of the second and the beginning of the third, but the Thunderbirds would gain offensive momentum in that final third as they would fire 15 shots in the last 20 minutes. Seattle would even pull on a top net front by Sam Popowich at 6:47 to 3: 3. The Thunderbirds, who had failed their first 5 power play attempts, would do well on the 6th as they would convert their only man advantage on the third when Roulette scored its second goal of the night at 1:03 p.m. to give Seattle a 4 give -3 lead. Spokane would pull Beaupit off goal in the last minute, but a turnover in the Chiefs zone in the last 10 seconds would result in an empty net for Seattle to end a 5-3 after the win.

It was Spokane’s fourth straight loss to Seattle that season and the Chiefs’ fifth loss overall. The loss was even worse when Tri City won in Prince George, overtaking Spokane by 2 points to 4th place in the US division. The team didn’t have much time to ponder the defeat, either, as Spokane took to the streets for the first time in nearly a month as they headed west to take on division leader Everett Silvertips. Everett was the last remaining team in the WHL that typically hadn’t lost and scored an impressive 13-0-0-1 in their first 14 games. The tips were 19 points ahead of Spokane in the overall standings and had won their first 4 encounters with the Chiefs, although Spokane had lost 3 one-goal decisions in these four games, two of them in overtime. The club was also 3-2 on the road, compared to a 0-6-2 on home ice.

The Chiefs’ hopes for a good start in Everett did not last long on Saturday, as the Silvertips hit the game 6:55 and took a 1-0 lead. After battling penalties in Seattle the night before, the Chiefs committed only 3 offenses in Everett. Unfortunately, two of them came in the first period and Everett would capitalize on both of them. Michal Gut, who had missed 3 of the 4 matches with Spokane at the beginning of the season, found an open Olen Zellweger at 2:30 p.m. to bring the tips 2-0 up. Gut was back at the next power play and found Jackson Berezowski at 16:37 net to give Everett a 3-0 lead after the first. Well, pronounced GOOT, then scored a goal in the middle of the second half as he personally ran through the Chiefs to give the tips a 4-0 lead after two. Spokane was eliminated 28-11 in 2 periods as things looked very bleak for the Chiefs at this point in the game.

Spokane would come out on the third and play their best time of the night as they shoot out the Silvertips 12-10 and score the only goal of the frame when Yannick Proske got a nice single performance at 5:58 to spoil the Everett closed and got Spokane on the board at 4-1. While looking good in Part 3, the Chiefs didn’t get any closer when Everett presented Spokane with their fifth straight loss in the series and sixth straight overall, 4-1 ahead. Spokane fought aggressively over the weekend and only scored 4 goals and 43 shots in 2 games. The Chiefs are still understaffed with injuries to Reed Jacobson, Erik Atchison, Grady Lane and Michael Cicek.

The Chiefs will get little sympathy from the league, however, and the team will have to find a way to find some wins in the near future or risk falling further back in the race for the final playoff spot in the west. Spokane ranks 8th in the conference, two points behind Tri City, hoping to just stay around until they can heal their broken group of strikers. The exciting part of Spokane is that for the first time since March 10, 2020, when they host Kelowna in a home and home series at the arena on Wednesday, they can play outside of the US division. The Rockets are the first Canadian team to come to Spokane since the Chiefs defeated Kamloops that March night and the Covid pandemic broke off the season 2 days later. Spokane will then head north to Kelowna on Friday evening for their first trip to Canada since the first week of March in 2020. The Chiefs return home the next Saturday night to receive Vancouver to complete 3 games in 4 nights. I’ll be calling on 103.5 FM the Game and 1510 AM KGA from the arena on Wednesday and Saturday while the game on Friday from Kelowna will be on 94.1 FM the Bear and 790 AM KJRB for Gonzaga basketball. Pre-game shows are at 6:30 p.m. and the puck drops take place every evening at 7:05 p.m. Let’s hope the guys get well and get their offensive games going and we hope to see you on the rink!

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