Chiefs top Seattle

It was a bit of a struggle but the Spokane Chiefs scored two late goals to beat the Seattle Thunderbirds 4-2 at the Arena Friday night.

Keep reading for the unedited game story.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

And it took a big dose of luck for the Spokane Chiefs to make 5,936 fans happy with a 4-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds at the Arena Friday night.

Calvin Pickard, Seattle’s fine young goalie, mishandled the puck behind his net and Steve Kuhn pounced on it to feed Dominic Uher for the game winner with 3:33 to play.

“End of the game, tight game like that, both teams going hard, you never know. Mistakes are made,” Kuhn said after Uher, a 17-year old rookie from Czechloslovakia, scored his first Western Hockey League goal.

“It was just good to see how happy Dom was when he scored that goal. It feels good for the team. I was playing with Dom all game mainly. He worked really hard and he really deserved that goal.”

Uher was playing in just his 11th game of the season.

 “He was excited. Good for him,” Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter said. “He has worked extremely hard in the weight room and in practice and I’m glad that getting an opportunity he was able to not only get a goal but get the game winner.”

It was the opposite for Pickard.

“I do feel bad for him,” Sauter added. “He played real solid all night and it’s too bad a fumbled puck has to lead to the game winning goal. At the same time, we generated a lot of good chances early and we probably did deserve to score four.”

It took an empty net goal by Kyle Beach, his second goal of the game and 21st of the season, at 19:46 to make four.

Before that it was a bit of a struggle.

It took the Chiefs (17-8-2, 36 points, third in the U.S. Division) more than five minutes to get their first shot of the game but the Thunderbirds (10-17-4, 24 points) only had their first shot at after more than four minutes elapsed. The Chiefs then had a flurry of shots, highlighted by Jared Spurgeon’s first goal at 9:33.

Kenton Miller, battling in the right corner, popped the puck out to Mitch Wahl behind the net and he found Spurgeon charging in from the right point, where he easily beat Pickard with a high shot.

Spurgeon, who missed the first 18 games of the season, was glad to finally score, although with two more assists he has 12 in his nine games.

“I had a couple of chances the last couple of games,” he said. “It’s a relief to get one in.”

The T-Birds cashed in on their first power play when Lindsay Nielsen redirected a shot by Jeremy Schappert from the right point past James Reid for his sixth goal at 16:52.

After a scoreless second period, Beach tallied a power play goal just 47 seconds into the third period, taking a feed from Stefan Ulmer in front of the goal and whizzing the puck high past Pickard.

That lead last all of five minutes, when Reid left a rebound out front. Prab Rai, who now has eight goals and eight assists in the last eight games, picked up the loose puck and whipped it around Reid.

The Chiefs had some issues getting the puck out of their own end at times, although they limited the Thunderbirds to 23 shots while getting 33 of their own.

“You have to give credit to them,” Spurgeon said. “They’re fast, they were on us right away so it took us awhile to get adjusted to that. They were working hard, it was just a hard-fought battle. The ice wasn’t perfect tonight so the pucks were bouncing but we worked our way through it.”

Overall, Sauter was pleased, especially with third-leading scorer Levko Koper out with a lower body injury.

“Our guys did a real good job forechecking, for the most part I thought our specialty teams were sharp and I thought I guys stayed relatively composed,” he said. Sometimes in a close game when you have chances that don’t go in you tend to change things but we just stuck with the game plan and eventually got our break.”

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