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Chiefs blank defending champions

In a tense, tight-checking game against the defending Western Hockey League champion Kelowa, James Reid make rookie Brady Brassart's second goal in as many games standup for a 1-0 lead Sunday night.

The Chiefs head out at the end of the week for a five-game road trip starting with three games in Alberta next weekend.

Keep reading for the game story I filed for Monday's paper and check back tomorrow for additional thoughts from the two weekend wins.

By Dave Trimmer; 509-927-2154

Whether it was animosity or gamesmanship, the Spokane Chiefs didn’t care.

James Reid made 26 saves for his second shutout and rookie Brady Bassart scored his second goal in as many games as the Chiefs defeated the defending Western Hockey League champions Kelowna Rockets for the second time this season, 1-0 before 4,319 fans at the Arena Sunday night.

“The game in Kelowna was really a chippy game,” Spokane defenseman Brett Bartman said. “There were a couple of tough hits and it seemed like neither team was really willing to back down in Kelowna. I think that carried over into today’s game. We handled it pretty well.”

While the Chiefs (12-7-1, 25 points) won for the sixth time in seven games, the Rockets,  (11-11-2, 23), who only suited up 18 players, lost their fifth straight road game, including three in three nights.

“It was their third game in three nights and I think they tried to make every stoppage of play last an extra 5, 10, 20 seconds,” Spokane coach Hardy Sauter said. “They didn’t have a full lineup, I think they were doing everything they can to slow the pace down and get as much rest as possible.”

Each team only had two power plays but there were 19 penalties for 76 minutes with two misconducts on each side.

“In the first two periods we did not handle it well,” Sauter said. “In the third period I think we handled it extremely well. That’s just our guys being mature and realizing the win was more important than the pettiness. I thought we did a real good job in the third of keeping our composure.”

Brassart’s goal at 3:53 of the second period came when Kyle Beach passed up a shot from the left circle to give Jared Spurgeon a better shot gliding in from the right point but he fed Brassart for a tap-in at the left edge of the Kelowna goal.

Reid, made that stand up with his sixth career shutout.

“I’m just playing as usual, keeping the game simple,” he said. “Right now things seem to be going my way. Defensively we’ve been playing very well as well, that makes things easy on me.”

The key was the first 3:48 of the third period when the Chiefs had to kill off the remains of a four-minute penalty.

“When we went into the dressing room we knew that four minute kill would be huge,” said Reid, who has won six straight starts allowing just four goals. “Pretty much if we killed that it would be our game. The defense was great, they were keeping everyone one out and letting me see everything.”

The Rockets had seven shuts from that power play to finish with a 26-21 advantage, on the third time Spokane has been out-shot.

Despite everything pointing to the Chiefs having an advantage against a tired and struggling team, there was no let down.

“They played pretty hard for their third game in three nights,” Bartman said. “We know they have a lot of good players in their room. It’s almost the opposite, we know they’ve had a few tough losses in a row and instead of coming out without effort, they’re gong to bring a better effort than normal to try to turn things around. That’s the mindset we had.”

Sauter said, “You can’t take the league champions lightly. If you do you’ll lose, it’s that plain and simple. Although the game wasn’t as free and easy as some we’ve had as of late, I thought our guys managed the game well, we improved as the game went on and defensively we did an outstanding job, especially in the third period.”

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