Spokane storms back after sluggish start
After falling behind 2-0, Chiefs score six in row
The scoreboard wouldn’t make for a strong character witness at the Arena on Wednesday night.
The Spokane Chiefs’ 6-3 victory over Moose Jaw in a Western Hockey League game was anything but lopsided. Mitch Wahl registered a goal and three assists to lead Spokane, which scored six straight goals to take command after falling behind 2-0 in the first period.
The Chiefs improved to 32-20-3-1 overall. Representing the Eastern Conference, Moose Jaw fell to 26-21-4-4.
Spokane looked sluggish from the opening faceoff before scoring four third-period goals to turn a close game into a misleading rout.
Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter wasn’t impressed with his team’s slow start, particularly against a team coming off a 5-2 loss to Kootenay in Cranbrook, British Columbia, that had to travel four hours for the game.
“You go back to every game against the East – whether it’s Saskatoon, Regina or (Prince Albert) – and we treat the first 10 minutes as a feeling-out process,” Sauter said. “It’s about being unfamiliar with your opponent, and you don’t want to get caught out of position, over floor-checking or overpursuing.”
Brady Brassart scored a tie-breaking goal 61 seconds into the third period to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead. Kyle Beach, Wahl and Ryan Letts each scored during power plays over the next 14-plus minutes to give Spokane an insurmountable four-goal cushion.
The Chiefs finished 4 for 7 on power plays. The Warriors were 1 for 2.
“Any time you score four goals on the power play, you’re going to win,” Sauter said.
Wahl has 24 points over his last nine games. After Tyler Johnson scored an unassisted goal to pull Spokane within 2-1 late in the first period, Wahl had assists on the Chiefs’ next three goals. He added his own goal at the 9:40 mark of the final period with a blistering shot from the perimeter.
“Kyle Beach and I have been able to find each other on the ice,” Wahl said. “We’re moving the puck, and we’re trying to outcompete the other teams’ top lines every night.”
Beach was held in check most of the game before registering his team-leading 37th goal. Letts’ goal was a fair reward after he delivered a bone-crunching hit on Moose Jaw defenseman Ryan Stanton in the first period.
James Reid finished with 24 saves and collected his 27th win for Spokane. Jeff Bosch stopped 30 shots for the Warriors.
“In the second period, our goalie made some big saves to keep us in it,” Sauter said.