The Spokane Chiefs haven’t tried doing things the easy way very often this year.
This time, however, it didn’t cost them.
Spokane gave up the game’s first goal for the seventh time in nine games Saturday night, but the Chiefs responded with three consecutive goals to secure a 3-1 victory over Kootenay in a Western Hockey League showdown.
The Chiefs, who avenged a 4-3 loss at Kootenay one night earlier, improved to 3-4 in games in which they didn’t score first. Spokane also garnered 28 penalty minutes and spent much of the night a man down on the ice.
“Preparation is the only thing that comes to mind,” said Spokane’s Steve Kuhn, who scored the Chiefs’ first goal and also assisted on Kenton Miller’s game-clinching goal in the third period. “There are definitely some guys who play a lot better when they’re a little mad.”
Spokane’s Mitch Wahl was penalized for checking from behind in the first period, giving the Ice a one-man advantage. Wahl then got a rise out of the fans when he started – and won – a fight with Kootenay’s Matt Fraser, but the cheers quickly turned to groans when the Ice scored on the ensuing power play to take a 1-0 lead.
Positioned in front of the Chiefs’ net, Dominik Pacovsky redirected Hayden Rintoul’s shot past Spokane goaltender Michael Tadjdeh for the game’s first goal with just less than 4 minutes left in the period.
“You don’t want competitive people to turn that off,” Spokane coach Hardy Sauter said. “But there’s some nights when you want guys on the ice as much as possible. It’s a little bit game management, and it’s a little bit emotion management.”
Kuhn and Brenden Kichton teamed for the Chiefs’ first goal with 4:23 remaining in the second period. Kichton attempted a shot that slipped through Ice goalie Nathan Lieuwen’s pads, and Kuhn capped the scoring threat from point-blank range to even the score at 1-all.
Beach scored his fifth goal of the season 2 minutes into the final period when his shot eluded Lieuwen’s reach and tucked inside the left post for a 2-1 lead. Wahl and Dominik Uher were credited with assists.
Beach sat out almost half of the second period when he suffered an injury to his left knee while checking Kootenay’s Hayden Rintour into the boards. Beach was assisted off the ice, but he returned with 10 minutes left in the period.
“I hadn’t done anything the last two weeks, so I thought maybe I should do something and battle it out,” Beach said.
Miller scored his second goal in as many nights at the 11:29 mark of the third period to seal the Spokane victory. On the Chiefs’ end, Miller stepped in front of an errant Kootenay pass and delivered a pass to Kuhn streaking up the ice. Kuhn’s shot was stopped by Lieuwen, but Miller was there to clean up the rebound for a two-goal advantage.