Chiefs’ shakeup sends leading scorer to Prince Albert
Looking to shake things up, the Spokane Chiefs made a big move Wednesday morning, sending leading scorer Anthony Bardaro to Prince Albert for help in goal.
To pick up goalie Eric Williams, the Chiefs also sent backup goalie Luke Lee-Knight back to the Raiders, along with the fifth-round Bantam Draft pick they got when they traded Tyler Vanscourt to Prince Albert for Lee-Knight in September.
The Chiefs, 16-11-2-3, also get forward Todd Fiddler. Both new players are 18.
“Quite simply we needed to strengthen our goaltending,” Spokane general manager Tim Speltz said. “And we needed to change the team. There wasn’t any question about that.”
Bardaro, who opened the season with a nine-game point streak, had 18 goals and 19 assists for 37 in 29 games. He was scratched just before the Chiefs took the Ice against Kelowna Tuesday night in their return from the traditional Western Hockey League Christmas break.
The 19-year-old center from Delta, British Columbia, had 24 goals and 22 assists last year as the Chiefs made a run to the Western Conference finals.
Lee-Knight, 18, appeared in nine games as a backup to Mac Engel. He posted a 2-0-1-1 record with a 2.91 goals-against average and .868 saves percent.
Williams played against the Chiefs earlier this season, losing 3-2 in overtime. He is 8-15-1-2 with one shutout and a 3.86 GAA and .884 saves percent. PA is 13-22-1-2 and in last place in the Eastern Division.
Williams was a fourth-round pick in the 2008 Bantam draft. He was 17-17-1-1 with a 3.71 GGA and .898 saves percentage last year.
“Eric is a proven starter and with him and Mac we feel we have strengthened our goaltending,” Speltz said.
Fiddler scored 23 goals last season but has struggled this year with just four goals and 10 points in 35 games.
He was a third-round pick of Medicine Hat in 2008 but was traded to PA before last season. He also had 15 assists as a rookie last year for 38 points in 70 games.
“We’re trading a proven scorer in Anthony, but not a guy we were having success with as a proven scorer,” Speltz said. “We felt needed to change things. (Fiddler) hasn’t gotten off the mark. We’re hoping the change will help him.”
Both players are expected to be available when the Chiefs play at Kootenay Friday and Tri-City on Saturday.
The Chiefs will be without defenseman Tanner Mort, who rejoined the team and picked up a power-play assist in Tuesday’s 4-1 win at Kelowna. Mort, 18, who had requested a trade last month, injured a shoulder in the third period and is out indefinitely.
“He had some time off before the break,” Speltz said. “During the break we were in constant discussions. Both teams had time to reflect. Moving forward we’re fine. We sure think Tanner can help us.”
Speltz said he would keep working the phone prior to the Jan. 10 trade deadline but no deals are close.