Engel’s play in goal for Spokane stellar
A night after the Spokane Chiefs’ offense was AWOL in a 2-1 loss, it came up big when the defense went missing.
After coughing up three one-goal leads the Chiefs needed a late goal from Steven Kuhn and then stellar goaltending by Mac Engel to get a 6-5 shootout win over Regina Saturday night at the Arena.
Mike Aviani, the ninth shooter, scored the winner, but the hero was Engel, who made seven saves in the shootout and a stunning save in the overtime before that.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking for me, seeing as I’ve been in a few and they haven’t gone very well,” Engel said. “This is the first shootout win of my career. That feels really good. Making that first couple of saves helped.”
The Pats got a power play for the final 1:27 of overtime but Engel robbed Morgan Klimchuk with a lightning move to his right to take away what appeared to be a gimme.
Jordan Weal, who had a goal and three assists for Regina, scored in the first round of the shootout, but Spokane rookie Jarid Hauptman got that back in the second.
Blake Gal of Spokane, who went between the legs of Regina goalie Matt Hewitt, and Dyson Stevenson scored in the fifth round.
“When the fans are cheering as loud as they can, it’s nerve-wracking, but it’s lots of fun,” Aviani said. “I didn’t really see it. I’ve always done that move, forehand to the backhand, get it as high as you can.”
It appeared the Chiefs would never get to that point. Entering the third period tied at 4, Brandon Underwood put the Pats (12-8-1-1, 27 points) up at 4:09, as the trailer in a 3-on-1 with Trent Ouellette and Jordan Weal.
If that defensive ineptitude was frustrating, it was made doubly so because the Chiefs (10-5-1-2, 23) had just looked miserable on a power play, not only failing to get a shot on goal but neglecting to even take a shot.
“After last night, we’ll take that,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “We have lots to work on to get better. Really disappointing in some areas, yet real good in other areas.
“Mac played real well in the shootout. We were down and came back, that’s cool.
“Too many mistakes. It’s not like the other team earned a lot. We gave a lot. That’s the area as a coach you want to clean up. Too many giveaways, not managing it real well, details, team play, there are lots of things that need to be cleaned up.”
The Chiefs are 4-0 against the East Division with Swift Current coming in on Wednesday.
Nick Redding scored two first-period goals and Spokane (9-13-1-0) held on for a 4-3 KIJHL win over Castlegar (15-7-0-2) at Eagles Ice-A-Rena.
Zak Kroll and Uriah Machuga also scored for the Braves.
Spokane goaltender Branden Amatto had 38 saves.