The Spokane Chiefs lit up the Kamloops Blazers. Brady Brassart lit up the Arena.
With the rookie Brassart scoring his first Western Hockey League goal and Kyle Beach notching his second hat trick of the season, the Chiefs put a 6-1 Western Hockey League whippin’ on the Blazers before 8,321 fans at the Arena Saturday night.
“It’s definitely nice to see the smile on (Brassart’s) face after scoring a goal like that,” said veteran defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who celebrated his first game back after offseason shoulder surgery with three assists. “Him and I have been joking about getting his first goal the last couple of days. It’s nice to see him get it tonight. He’s been working hard.”
Brassart cleaned up the rebound off a shot by Anthony Bardaro, giving the Chiefs a 4-1 lead at 5:51 of the second period.
“It was cool, just getting the pressure off my shoulders. It was fun seeing it go in,” said Brassart, 16, who plays on the fourth line with fellow rookies Bardaro, 17, and Mitch Holmberg, 16. “The last couple of games we’ve had lots of good quality scoring chances and have just been snakebitten. I think it was just coming.”
Spurgeon quickly made his presence felt, getting an assist in each period, two on the power play as Spokane scored on three of seven man-advantage opportunities while killing off five penalties.
“That’s definitely more than I expected,” said Spurgeon, who expects to be back in the lineup for tonight’s game against Kelowna, along with forward Ryan Letts, who also had offseason surgery. “I was just hoping to play a simple game and help the team out any way I can. I gave a couple of passes that guys buried. It wasn’t all my work. It was great shots by other guys.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. It was frustrating but getting back is definitely fun.”
The Chiefs took a 2-1 lead in the first period on a pair of near identical goals – Beach one-timers from the left circle into a wide-open goal. The first, at 6:23, came on a pass from Kenton Miller at the right circle just after a Blazers’ penalty expired. The second, on the power play at 16:28, came after Beach whipped a pass across to Spurgeon at the right circle and Spurgeon sent it back.
Kamloops tied the game at 14:59 on a strange sequence. Shayne Wiebe got his stick on a long, hard centering pass from Colin Smith, sending the puck into the net just before he crashed into Chiefs goalie James Reid and earned a penalty for goalie interference.
Mitch Wahl scored for the fifth straight game with a power-play goal early in the second period. In the third defenseman Stefan Ulmer scored a power play on a breakaway that was started by Reid. Beach got his third goal, and 18th of the season, with a minute left.
Reid won his fifth straight start. He stopped 21 shots while the Chiefs peppered Justin Leclerc with 48.
It was a great performance after a lethargic 5-2 home loss to Everett on Tuesday.
“I didn’t yell and rant and rave,” Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter said. “We talked about simply making sure we bring effort. Our guys have a lot of pride. They just played hard, plain and simple.”