The Spokane Chiefs’ four-game winning streak game to an inglorious end Tuesday night at the Arena with a dismal 5-2 loss to the Everett Silvertips.
In a battle before between two teams tied for third in the U.S. Division of the Western Hockey League the visitors out-worked the lethargic Chiefs.
“We did not play a good game,” Spokane coach Hardy Sauter said. “I don’t know (why). I can tell you part of the problems.
“Turnovers, we didn’t attack with speed when we had the opportunity and partly we have to give Everett credit for playing a very solid road game.”
The Silvertips (11-5-2, 23 points) had much more spring in their legs, even though they finished a six-games-in-nine-days swing through the Central Division on Friday, picking up four wins.
“We’ve been playing well on the road and we had some confidence coming into today,” Everett forward Chris Langkow, a former Chief, said. “We knew today was a big game, four points for us, and we wanted to take advantage of it.
“I think maybe they a little underestimated us, thought we would be tired at the end of a long road trip. They came out strong, we didn’t start off too strong. Once we got into the game and got going, we just kept going from there.”
The Chiefs (10-7-1, 21 points) were out-shot for the first time in 13 games and only the third time this season, giving up 36, matching a season high. The fourth line of rookies Anthony Bardaro, Mitch Holmberg and Brady Brassart probably had more strong shifts than any other combination – and Sauter tried them all.
“It was just one of those nights when more than three or four guys didn’t have good nights,” Sauter said. “You have a team concept, you want everyone to contribute and if different guys on every line or every defensive pairing are struggling, that takes away from the overall team and you struggle.”
Despite a sluggish start the Chiefs were only down 1-0 midway through the second period and seemed to be coming to life. But with a cluster of hard checks, the Silvertips were back in control and added two more goals before the end of the period.
Spokanes came out charging to start the third period, when Sauter started defenseman Jared Cowen at forward with centers Mitch Wahl and Tyler Johnson. Then Wahl scored a power play goal at 2:03.
However, less than a minute later Levko Koper missed an open net and at 4:47 two Spokane defensemen whiffed on cleaning up the puck at the crease in front of Michael Tadjdeh and Tyler Maxwell popped it in.
“I’m still not sure Koper’s shot didn’t go in,” Sauter said. “If that puck goes in the net, it’s 3-2 and we’ve got three-quarters of a period to tie it up. It didn’t. It’s funny, this team usually gets the results it deserves and tonight we had some guys that didn’t play up to par and we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
Maxwell added a power play goal at 15:20, seconds after Chiefs defenseman Brett Bartman picked up his first penalty of the year. Kyle Beach got his 15th goal for the Chiefs with a minute left.
“We had a breakaway, two posts and an open net on a power play,” Sauter said. “We had enough chances to score even though we played not as well as we have of late. There is some work to be done, we’ll just go right back to the drawing board and prepare for Saturday.”
The Chiefs are home twice this weekend, Kamloops in on Saturday and Kelowna visiting Sunday in a 6 p.m. game.
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