Chiefs win, continue torrid pace in WHL
Seriously, the Spokane Chiefs have a six-game winning streak, but it’s really not pretty.
The Chiefs fell behind for the fifth straight game but this time it didn’t take a last-minute rally for them to run their season-opening home winning streak to seven, beating Everett 3-2 before 7,739 fans at the Arena Saturday night.
For the second consecutive game and third time in the last five, Dominik Uher scored the winner, but instead of waiting until the third period he got it late in the second. It was his fourth goal of the season and it came after defenseman Tanner Mort flipped the puck out front from behind net.
“He funneled the puck to the net,” Uher said. “I saw it laying there. It was right at the post and the goalie had his pad there, I just tried to push it inside.
“I think it’s our plan. We want to win … but it’s more interesting for the fans when we come back.”
That certainly isn’t the coach’s plan.
“We got a win, but we have so much to clean up in our game,” Don Nachbaur said. “It’s a 20-man effort. It’s not a 16-guy effort or a 14-guy effort, it’s a 20-man effort. When you have 20 guys working, pulling on the same rope, you’re going to get better results than we’re getting right now.”
The Chiefs (7-2-0-1, 15 points), who won their first 10 home games 10 years ago, allowed Everett (2-7-0-2, 6) to score two early goals. Ryan Harrison got his fourth just 4:30 into the game and Jordyn Boyd added his first at 5:43. Both were indictments of the defense as much as good plays.
Steven Kuhn got the Chiefs on the board midway through the first by cleaning up a rebound in the crease off a Brenden Kichton shot.
“This time it was bad luck,” Uher said of the Chiefs’ slow start. “I think we played good in the first period. We just didn’t score and they got a couple of lucky goals.”
The Chiefs outshot the Silvertips 14-7 in the first period on the way to peppering 16-year-old goalie Austin Lotz with 43 shots. Mac Engel had 20 saves for the Chiefs.
Early in the second period, rookie Liam Stewart whacked a puck out of the air to tie the game with his first WHL point.
“It felt really good to finally get it under my belt,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get a few more in the next couple of games. I closed my eyes and just hoped for the best. I didn’t know it went in until I saw (Collin) Valcourt celebrating, then I started celebrating. It felt really good.”
Uher’s goal came at 16:54 and allowed the Chiefs to match their second-longest, season-opening winning streak.
“The young guys were the difference in this game again,” Nachbaur said. “There are some older guys that better reevaluate themselves. I think some of the young guys are passing them.”