The Spokane Chiefs brought the Czech mix, but the party didn’t start until Steven Kuhn arrived.
After the lowly Everett Silvertips forced overtime, Kuhn weaved his way through the defense and beat Kent Simpson with 46 seconds left to produce a 3-2 Western Hockey League win before 4,231 fans at the Arena.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Kuhn said. “In overtime, you take what they give you. I got kind of lucky there, cutting to the middle and beat the goalie, short-side blocker. To be honest, I don’t even think I saw it go in.”
The Chiefs are 5-0 against the Silvertips this year.
It appeared second-period goals by Dominik Uher and Marek Kalus, Spokane’s import players from the Czech Republic, were going to be enough with the defensive blanket the Chiefs had thrown on the Silvertips. But Bauml Kohl deflected a shot from the point past Mac Engel with 7:35 left in regulation to force the overtime.
That came despite Spokane’s 45-15 shot advantage in regulation, including 16-1 in the second period.
“We have a tough time scoring,” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said.
“It’s tough – 47 shots, some good looks. We could have put them away earlier. Their goalie, was he good or did we make him look good? Some of those pucks we didn’t bear down. We had two back-door feeds, one on the 5-on-3. Bear down and bury those.
“I’ll take the win. They’re not all going to be pretty. But from an offensive standpoint, we were in their end a lot of time but we didn’t capitalize.”
Everett came out of the first period with a 1-0 lead despite being outshot 16-4. The Chiefs squandered 82 seconds of a two-man advantage before the Silvertips’ first shot became an unassisted goal by Josh Birkholz at 13:37.
“We’ve seen it in the past,” Kuhn said. “It’s important we are getting those shots. That’s a positive. We’ve really got to bear down, especially getting to the net. Once we get that figured out, pucks will start going in a little easier.”
The Chiefs were particularly ineffective on their four power-play chances against the worst penalty-kill team in the Western Hockey League, passing the puck around the outside and rarely getting a past the defenders to Simpson.
“Every football team is led by the quarterback. In hockey, the quarterbacks aren’t down low, they’re up top,” Nachbaur said.
“Getting a shot through is a talent, blocking shots is a talent. I thought they were committed to block shots and they frustrated us a little bit.”
Spokane has just one goal in its last 12 power plays and slipped to ninth in the league at 22.9 percent success.
“You don’t score from the side, you score from getting in front of the net,” Nachbaur said.
“There werent’ any flurries in front of the net, scrambles, loose-puck tries, second- and third-rebound tries. That’s a chosen path. That’s a tough area to get into. In hockey, that area in front of the net is the red zone.”
“There are bigger, tougher guys that love that area,” Kuhn said.
“It’s important for everyone on our team to dig deep in those areas. That’s how we’re going to score goals.”
The Chiefs are home against Portland on Saturday before the nine-day Christmas break.
A brave girl jumps from the rocks on the west side of Tubbs Hill as her two friends watch. (Don Sausser/Facebook photo)
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