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Chiefs work out kinks in power play

Spokane’s Kenton Miller, background, blasts Everett’s Josh Birkholz off his skates.  (Dan Pelle)
Spokane’s Kenton Miller, background, blasts Everett’s Josh Birkholz off his skates. (Dan Pelle)

Spokane’s Kichton applies heat

With a week of practice to improve the recipe for a good power play, the Spokane Chiefs found the right ingredients in Kichton.

Brenden Kichton, in his first action after a preseason hand injury, assisted on a pair of power-play goals as the Chiefs ended a 0-for-24 drought with the man advantage in a 3-1 win over Everett on Saturday night at the Arena, the Silvertips’ first road game of the Western Hockey League season.

“Not to sound cocky, but I knew when I got back I could help the power play,” Kichton said. “Get Cow (Jared Cowen) that big shot, he’s got to shoot the puck like he did tonight. Just creating chances. We were in their zone basically all night on the power play.”

Kichton, who suffered a broken left index finger at the Detroit Red Wings’ camp, flicked a wrist shot from the blue line that Kenton Miller deflected past Luke Siemens, making his first start in goal after Kent Simpson played the first eight games in Everett. That thrilled the crowd of 5,716 just 1:59 into the game.

Kichton also assisted on Tyler Johnson’s power-play clincher with 7:07 to play. The Chiefs (3-5-0-0, 6 points) ended up 2 for 8 on the power play, the Silvertips (5-2-1-1, 12) were 1 for 2.

“At practice, during the games, I saw the guys weren’t getting the pucks to the net,” said Kichton, who missed seven games. “Our vision wasn’t there, seeing guys back door, up front. Watching all that from the stands really helped. … It just clicked. I don’t know if that was because of me or we just jelled.”

Blake Gal’s team-leading fifth goal, a shot from the middle of the right circle, made it 2-0 for the Chiefs at 5:26 of the first period. The Silvertips got close quickly, cashing in on a 5-on-3 power play. Tyler Maxwell notched his 11th at 8:05, connecting with a tough-angle shot from the bottom of the right circle that went through James Reid’s legs.

There was no change in the second period, thanks mainly to Reid. Twice the Chiefs had power plays and peppered Siemens to no avail, and both times the Silvertips had great chances when the penalty expired.

First Reid stopped a John Birkholz shot and Scott MacDonald rebound as they ran a 2-on-1. The second time MacDonald, fresh out of the penalty box, broke in alone on Reid, who stopped him twice as MacDonald also got a shot on the rebound.

“It was shaky at moments,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “I think we took some steps. Some of the things we went over this week entered our game. I’m happy with the effort and the victory. We made some strides this week, that’s huge.”

That was especially true on the power play, which went 0 for 17 last weekend in a pair of one-goal losses at home.

“We were too fancy,” Nachbaur said. “We didn’t win any battles last week on the wall. That was a direct result of placing the puck in (bad) areas. I thought we improved on that. We kept it out of those areas.

“Johnny’s goal at the end was a direct result of us putting the puck toward the net. Good things happen when you throw the puck at the net.”

Kichton, antsy to get back into action, also didn’t get back into action because a dog bit his right hand.

“I was thinking that’s got to heal … it’s such a freak accident,” he said. “I couldn’t watch any more games.”

The Chiefs have two home games this week when Central Division teams visit – defending WHL champion Calgary, sitting in last place, on Wednesday, and division-leading Red Deer on Saturday.

Chiefs 3, Silvertips 1

Everett 1 0 0 1
Spokane 2 0 1 3

First Period—1, Spokane, Miller 1 (Kichton, Johnson) 1:59 (pp). 2, Spokane, Gal 5 (Leedahl, Johnson) 5:26. 3, Everett, Maxwell 11 (Ferraro, Yadlowski) 8:05 (pp). Second Period—None. Third Period—4, Spokane, Johnson 3 (Cowen, Kichton) 11:53 (pp). Power-play Opp.—Everett 1 of 2; Spokane 2 of 8. Saves—Siemens (Eve) 15-13-14—42. Reid (Spo) 9-7-2—18. A—5,716.

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