After the first two games of this year’s Western Hockey League playoffs, the Spokane Chiefs find themselves in a best-of-5 scenario.
After splitting the first two games of the Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Seattle Thunderbirds last Friday and Saturday, the series resumes tonight at Kent’s ShoWare Center, where the fourth-seeded Chiefs – the defending WHL and Memorial Cup champions – are looking to take back the lead in the series and put the pressure on the fifth-seeded Thunderbirds.
“You never want to fall behind in a series,” Chiefs forward Drayson Bowman said following Spokane’s 2-1 loss to Seattle on Saturday night at the Arena.
“We’ll definitely be looking to take back control of the series,” added Bowman.
In order to do so, a few things will need to happen.
The Chiefs will need someone other than Bowman – who has netted all three goals for Spokane in the series – to put the puck in the net.
“Some other guys need to show up on the scoresheet, for sure,” Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter said. “But I have been happy with our effort for the most part. Obviously, though, there are some things we need to work on and improve.”
They’ll also need their power play unit, which was ranked fourth in the league through the regular season, to start clicking. Though they’ve been able to work the puck well in the zone when skating with an advantage and have come close to scoring several times, they’re still 0 for 7 while skating with an extra man.
“I think we’re close on the power play,” Sauter said.
“We’re not that far off,” Bowman added. “We’ve had some pretty good scoring opportunities but I know that it’s not acceptable for any of us to keep missing when those opportunities come up. I think as long as we keep putting the pucks on net that we’re going to be fine.”
Sauter hopes that some players returning to the lineup will give the Chiefs some jump tonight.
Forward Ryan Letts is finished serving the 10-game suspension he received when he was called for a charging major during the Chiefs’ 5-2 loss to the Tri-City Americans on Feb. 28, and defenseman Trevor Glass – who has been dealing with a nagging upper-body injury for several weeks – was also expected to be ready to play.
“Those guys coming back, we hope, will provide some energy and a little bit of a spark to our game,” Sauter said. “They both have important roles on our team.”