Chiefs win in shootout with Chilliwack
A franchise record for shots and very little to show for it.
Except for the win.
Somehow 78 shots on Chilliwack goalie Lucas Gore wasn’t enough to give the Spokane Chiefs a win, but two in a shootout – to go with two saves by James Reid – were for a 2-1 victory before 4,819 fans at the Arena Wednesday night.
“Seventy-eight shots. Really?” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. “Or was that counting by twos?”
Not that it mattered because the Chiefs (46-17-4-2, 98 points) picked up two points to stay one behind Portland in the U.S. Division with three games left in the Western Hockey League season. The top seed in the Western Conference could come down to Sunday’s season-ender in Portland.
The final home game is Friday against Seattle.
While the Chiefs put Gore in a shooting gallery, the Bruins pounced on their one good scoring chance when a Ryan Howse backhand cleaned up a juicy rebound with just 3 seconds left in the second period. It was his 51st goal and tied him with Spokane’s Tyler Johnson for the league lead.
“We never created those chances in 78 shots,” Nachbaur said. “This time of year, we’ll take the two (points). We know we’ve got to do better. Too many passengers, too many guys didn’t bring their ‘A’ game; they brought their soft game. As a group we didn’t compete nearly hard enough to score goals.”
Finally midway through the third period Matt Marantz got his 19th for the Chiefs, on the 60th shot.
“I think we were all shooting to score,” Marantz said. “I think we need to shoot for rebounds. Shoot it on the pad, get the greasy goals. That was the game-tier, I had a greasy goal in front of the net and that’s what we needed.”
The pressure stayed on but Gore stayed strong.
“I didn’t see a lot of hard saves but he played well though,” Nachbaur said. “The kid played really good. To get that many pieces of rubber at the net you would think it would hit a shin pad or a stick and go in the net. But he was there every time.”
With Chilliwack’s 23 shots, the 101 combined shots also set a record for a Chiefs’ game.
“It wasn’t really too bad, I didn’t think,” Gore said. “Whenever they got the puck they were firing it at the net but we limited their chances. My D-men did a great job blocking. … For the most part when I see it I can safe it and they did a good job covering their guys.”
The game was defined perfectly with 1:25 left in overtime, when Brandon Manning got a penalty for checking from behind, then a 10-minute misconduct and the Chilliwack bench got a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
With a 5-on-3 advantage, the best power play in the league was powerless.
“That five-on-three power play was how we played all night,” Nachbauar said. “There was no fluency or crispness to our game at all.”
Finally in the shootout Johnson scored and James Reid stopped Kevin Sundher. Then Blake Gal drove in on Gore but lost the puck, only to have it bounce off the post and off Gore into the net. When Reid stopped Robin Soudek, the Chiefs had their point.
“It was an unfortunate bounce but we still got a point,” Gore said. “That’s better than none.”
Chillwack moved a point ahead of Vancover for the fifth seed.
Although playoff pairings are still up in the air, the Chiefs announced the schedule for the opening round. Despite home-ice advantage, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament is bumping the Chiefs out of the Arena so the best-of-7 series will open with two games at the lower seed before the Chiefs get three at home. The first two home games are March 30 and 31.