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