It was a game that was played on the edge until the Spokane Chiefs pushed the Tri-City Americans over it.
Three goals in the last half of the second period of a Western Hockey League game played with playoff intensity led the Chiefs to smothering 5-0 win over their rivals Saturday night at the Arena.
James Reid made 20 saves for his 10th career shutout as the Chiefs (10-8-1-1, 21 points) won their season-high third straight while handing the Americans (11-7-1-1, 24) their fourth straight loss.
“It’s really nice,” defenseman Corbin Baldwin said. “We just had good, solid team defense and Reider was stellar as always. We just focus on our defense and it leads to good offense. I think all the guys are buying in.”
With a crowd of 9,816 adding to the atmosphere, the players were hacking and slashing and hitting everything that moved.
The Chiefs were clinging to a 1-0 lead, thanks to a first-period power-play goal by Kenton Miller, when they went on a power play as the game passed the midway point. Spokane had just a 13-12 shot advantage, but by the end of the second period the score was 4-0 and the shots were 24-12.
“I thought we played a 60-minute game,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “Maybe the only thing you take out of that is we’re not a bad team. We’re beating good teams in the last three weeks. We’ve turned the corner in a lot of areas. I’m pretty happy with our team game. We stuck to our game plan to a T tonight.”
The game plan, though, is a secret.
“I can’t tell you that,” he said. “We did what we had to, scored some goals in areas we talked about. It’s all good.”
Anthony Bardaro started the charge at 13:40, slapping a rebound past 16-year-old rookie goalie Chris Driedger. Levko Koper swept in a rebound of a Jared Cowen shot for a power-play goal at 17:31. Just 65 seconds later, Blake Gal scored on a lovely backhand as he swooped across the crease, set up by a nice drop pass from Miller.
“We know our systems and know when we execute them we’ll do well,” Miller said. “We have a younger team. We’re getting more and more experience each game. I think we have a lot of confidence now.
“Our line, we get pucks to the net and when they go in, they seem to go in in big bunches.”