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Fri., Oct. 9, 2009, 10:35 p.m.

Chiefs end skid with 5-2 victory

Spokane put a two-game losing streak to bed with a 5-2 victory over Prince Albert on Friday at the Arena. The Chiefs will go for their first back-to-back wins of the young season tonight when they host Seattle at 7.

Below, you can read my unedited game story as I'm pinch-hitting for beat writer Dave Trimmer.

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

Teams on losing streaks, even a modest one like the Spokane Chiefs’ two-game slide, sometimes try too hard to get back into the win column.

Spokane was guilty of that for one shaky period Friday against Prince Albert. But the Chiefs sandwiched that sluggish period with two dominating ones and posted a 5-2 Western Hockey League victory over the Raiders in front of 4,856 at the Arena.

Spokane led 2-1 after the first, then survived a rocky second period as the Raiders pulled even.

“We just said, ‘Calm down,’ ” Chiefs head coach Hardy Sauter said. “Everybody was anxious and a little antsy. Our guys wanted to win this game to get back on track and they were almost trying too hard to do so, pulling ourselves out of position and just not thinking.”

Spokane responded with three goals in the third period.

“Hardy knows what to say,” said defenseman Stefan Ulmer, who had a goal and an assist. “He calmed us down, gave us some tips for the next period and we went out and did pretty well.”

One key to Friday’s performance might have come earlier in the week. Spokane didn’t practice Wednesday, opting for games off ice – table tennis and soccer.

“We just got away from hockey and did some team bonding,” Ulmer said. “We got hockey out of our heads for a day. Thursday was an unreal practice and everybody was ready to go (Friday).”

The Chiefs broke a 2-2 tie early in the third. Ulmer’s drive from the right point was re-directed past goalie Garrett Zemlak by Matt Marantz, who was stationed in front of the net.

Spokane had an opportunity to extend its lead when two Raiders were sent to the penalty box, but the Chiefs sputtered with a two-man advantage. Shortly after that power play ended, the Chiefs’ Steve Kuhn won a face-off and seconds later connected on his first goal of the season.

Tyler Johnson added an empty-net goal with 1:23 left.

Spokane went 2 for 2 on power plays and 2 for 2 on penalty kill in the first period. Levko Koper took a nice feed from Johnson inside the right circle and back-handed the puck by Zemlak for his seventh goal.

Prince Albert answered when Igor Revenko went top shelf from close range at 15:59. The Chiefs had a couple of chances to clear the puck from their end but failed and Revenko made them pay.

The Chiefs went on top 2-1 late in the first. Ulmer’s shot from the left point found the net with the help of Kenton Miller’s screen in front of Zemlak.

“Got a lucky tip,” Ulmer said. “I don’t think it would have gone in if it didn’t hit the (defenseman’s) stick.”

Prince Albert owned the second period, but came away empty on two power plays. It wasn’t for a lack of trying as the Raiders peppered Chiefs goalie James Reid with unsuccessful shots and Spokane again struggled to clear the puck from its zone. Jordan Rowley scored the tying goal with a shot from just inside the blue line.

The Chiefs had 23 shots in the third and killed off two more penalties to finish the evening 6 for 6.

“It’s been suspect,” Sauter said of the team’s penalty kill, 19th in the WHL entering Friday’s game. “Positionally we’ve been OK, but we’ve had some bad bounces or one guy out of four falls asleep. Tonight everybody was sharp.”


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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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