On paper, the Spokane Chiefs’ dominating 5-1 Western Hockey League win over Chilliwack Wednesday night was a veteran affair.
Red-hot Kyle Beach had two goals and top-line veterans Tyler Johnson, Levko Koper and Mitch Wahl connected while goalie James Reid turned aside 24 shots.
It’s all about confidence and no one is more confident than Beach, who has eight goals in the last five games and 13 for the season.
“I’m definitely getting some bounces,” Beach said. “The first goal tonight was a bit of a softie, it snuck under his pads. At the same time, I’m getting a chance to play (more games) with my linemates now. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Wally, Kops, whoever it’s been, I just find a hole and they find me with the puck.”
Although the younger role players didn’t score, that doesn’t mean they didn’t contribute.
“When you start playing a lot of games in a short period of time, you need that fourth line to contribute, whether it be controlling the play, scoring goals or creating momentum,” Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter said. “Whatever it is, you need both that third and fourth line to do something.
“Right now both our third and fourth lines are making good plays, good decision and contributing, just adding to the confidence of the group.”
That’s extending to the defense, especially Reid, who went three weeks between wins before posting a shutout in Portland Sunday.
“I’m back in a zone now,” Reid said. “Hopefully, we can start a streak now. … I feel really good. I feel like the team is playing really good, the ‘D’ is helping me out a lot. Everything’s going the right way now.”
The Chiefs (8-6-1, 17 points) had lost three straight home games. The first two were with Reid in goal, when he didn’t appear to be comfortable, nor did the defense in front of him.
“I was a little off,” Reid said. “I think it was my angles were just a little off and the bounces just weren’t going my way. Sometimes that happens and a goalie gets in a little slump. I think I’m out of it now. It feels really good.”
Beach scored with 15 seconds left in the first period and 18 seconds into the second on the power play for a 2-1 lead.
Johnson banged home a loose puck with a minute left in the second period to make it 3-1.
In the third period, Koper converted a pass from Johnson after a turnover and Wahl made a nice move at the left circle to end his frustrations.
Koper and Johnson notched their ninth goals. While Johnson has four goals in the last four games, Koper got just his second in the last eight games. The drought for Wahl had reached 10 games.
“I have no problem shooting the puck,” Beach said. “I wish my stats were better, goal-to-assist ratio. Now that Wally got out of his slump, he can get rolling as well and we can both start scoring.”
After the game the Chiefs traded 20-year-old forward Dustin Donaghy to Lethbridge for a sixth-round pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft.
“We have four 20-year-olds and you can only have three,” Sauter said. “We felt all our 20-year-olds have worth. In a nutshell, Lethbridge agreed and traded fair value. It gives us value back and it gives Dustin a place to go where he’s wanted and he’s going to get to play.”