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Chiefs drop home game to Kamloops

At least it was a team effort, according to the coach, but it was an effort he called pathetic.

But there wasn’t much good to say about the Spokane Chiefs’ 2-1 loss to Kamloops at the Arena on Friday night.

“Too long of layoff is an excuse,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said, just getting warmed up. “We worked hard all week, come into the game and we don’t work. We stand around and watch. We did not skate. The bottom line with our hockey team is we’re not a hard-working team, we’re a lazy team. We played lazy.”

They were also lucky the score wasn’t much worse and the 5,106 fans let them know it.

“Fans pay to watch that,” Nachbaur said. “Just so the fans know, I was booing them too. We had four fourth-lines tonight.”

That came after a good opening 10 minutes.

The Chiefs (9-5-1-2, 21 points) jumped to a 1-0 lead on a beautiful sequence from Anthony Bardaro to Dominik Uher to Collin Valcourt for his fifth goal less than 5 minutes into the game. But less than 5 minutes later the game was tied because a Spokane defenseman fell down and Logan McVeigh turned a 2-on-1 into a short-handed goal for Dylan Willick, his 11th.

“We got off to a good start, made some plays,” Chiefs forward Steven Kuhn said. “We scored that goal and then kind of went our own way. We didn’t play as a team. We’re not going to be able to win if we don’t play as a unit. … I think we all wanted to be the hero, be the one who gets us back on track, and we lose the structure of our game.”

That sounded like Nachbaur.

“No structure, no work ethic, zero compete and absolutely no skill to our team whatsoever,” he said. “I think they heard me.”

The Kamloops winner came a minute into the third period. Just after a Spokane penalty expired, the Blazers dumped the puck behind the net. Tim Bozon got it out front to Colin Smith for a shot that Mac Engel blocked. Bozon skated around behind the net, past a statue of a defenseman in a Chiefs jersey, and put the puck into a wide-open net.

It’s obvious the Blazers (14-6-0-0, 28) are much improved from the team that gave up 10 goals in both games in Spokane and missed the playoffs last year.

“This year the team works hard, we are tough to play against,” said Bozon, a rookie from Switzerland who has seven goals. “Last year was last year. This is a new team.”

It was only the second loss in 11 home games but the third in a row for the Chiefs. And tonight they get a visit from a vastly improved Regina team that had to enjoy what they saw.

“We talked among ourselves,” Kuhn said. “We have the night to think it over. I think there will be a lot of guys, including myself, who come back with a different mentality tomorrow.”