There is something about the East Division that almost brings out the best in the Spokane Chiefs.
Anthony Bardaro’s goal with less than 8 minutes to play Wednesday night kept Spokane perfect against the visitors from the far edge of the Western Hockey League.
Bardaro snapped off a quick shot from the inside edge of the left circle, beating Jon Groenheyde high, giving the Chiefs a 3-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos at the Arena.
It was the second straight game that the Chiefs played host to an East Division team starting a road trip through the U.S. Division. On Saturday the Regina Pats lost 6-5 in a shootout.
Spokane (11-5-1-2, 25 points) is 5-0 against the East with one game to go.
Four of the games were by one goal, the other by two.
“I thought the first two periods there was not enough second effort,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “But I thought we brought it in the third. We really cared, competed hard, blocked some shots when the game was on the line. We were there to win it.”
The Chiefs embark on their Central Division road trip after Saturday’s home game against the Prince George Cougars.
The Broncos (10-12-2-1, 23) tied the game on Adam Lowry’s ninth goal at 10:32. It was a power-play goal for the league leaders in that category and came on their only shot in two opportunities.
The last-place team on the penalty kill blanked Spokane on three opportunities, holding them to two shots.
After a scoreless first period, the Chiefs took a 2-1 lead into the third, sandwiching goals around a goal from Reece Scarlett of Swift Current.
From the left corner, defenseman Brenden Kichton threw a centering pass out front that went off a Bronco for his third goal at 4:11.
Reece notched his fifth, cleaning up a rebound on an Adam Smith rush at 6:52.
Then Kichton struck again, just a little farther up the same boards, getting the puck out front to Dominik Uher, for his eighth goal at 16:46.
With a pair of assists, Uher had a three-point night.
“Should have been four,” Uher said. “Should have had the empty net.”
The Chiefs were all smiles after the game, but Uher knows they need to be more consistent.
“It’s about leadership,” he said. “When the old guys play good, the young guys follow. When the old guys are sleeping, it’s hard for the young guys to get into the game. We have to bring the leadership to every game, then we’re going to be successful.
“It’s a big role. You have to be loud in the locker room. You have to let the young guys know what they’re doing good. At the same time, you have to be a great example for them. You shouldn’t make any mistakes.”
Part of the Chiefs’ inconsistency is the trouble getting a consistent lineup.
“We haven’t had a full contingent of forwards for any one game this year,” Nachbaur said. “We’ve had guys suspended two, three times now, guys injured, a guy sick. We dressed 11 forwards tonight. It would be nice if we had everyone available to use. But we found a way. A lot of guys played pretty good. I’m happy about that.”