There are a number of excuses the Spokane Chiefs could use for their 5-4 Western Hockey League overtime loss to Seattle at the Arena Wednesday night.
They’ve been playing at a high level for a long time, proud owners of a six-game winning steak. They beat the Thunderbirds 8-2 the night before. They jumped to a 3-0 lead in this game.
“We should be better than that,” Spokane’s Matt Marantz said. “We have high expectations now. We wanted to keep this streak alive. It’s too bad we couldn’t do it. We just have to be better.”
It was a game, after that early burst, that put the 4,026 fans to sleep and ended on a sour note with Travis Toomey’s overtime goal.
“We just played tonight and we proved to ourselves we’re just not that good when we just come to play,” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. “We were really not that sharp in any area. Our best players were not our best players. Our support guys tried to play fancy. I think we lost our identity. We tried to play a game we were not suited for.
“But our bottom line is without the compete level and the work ethic, we’re just another team. I thought the other team outworked us. We were looking for another easy game. We haven’t done that for a couple of months.”
The Chiefs (18-9-3-2, 41 points) kept one streak alive early, a power-play goal in 15 straight games. Following Brenden Kitchton’s goal was Mitch Holmberg’s. Early in the second period, Dominik Uher made it 3-0.
“We just didn’t have the killer instinct, we got soft,” Nachbaur said. “So many easy goals, that’s the disappointing part of it. We made so many mistakes with the puck, turning it over. … I don’t think our guys did any preparation. It looked to me like some guys started Christmas vacation.”
Burke Gallimore, the Chiefs’ second-round Bantam pick in 2006, the year they got Jared Cowen No. 1, broke the ice for Seattle (14-11-3-4, 35) with a power-play goal in the second. He added two goals in the third.
“It’s a good feeling to get some points here and get a win also, especially after last night’s game when they stomped us in our rink,” Gallimore said. “To come in and get two points feels good.”
Gallimore, 19, was sent to Midget before his 16-year-old season. At the trade deadline, he was included in a deal with Saskatoon for Justin McCrae, who helped the Chiefs win a Memorial Cup.
Saskatoon dealt him to Seattle at the deadline last season, the second time the trade deadline fell on his birthday.
After Gallimore tied the game early in the third period, Kichton’s second goal gave the Chiefs a 4-3 lead. Gallimore forced overtime with his 17th goal at 11:34.
“We definitely have to learn from it,” Marantz said. “We did not come focused, we were not ready to play tonight. We know that and we have to do better next game.”