Ice turn up offense to defeat Chiefs
Sam Reinhart has been described as a 17-year-old with a 20-year-old’s brain on the hockey rink.
The Kootenay Ice’s leading scorer lived up to that compliment at the expense of the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday night.
Reinhart finished with two goals and one assist as the Ice (11-24-1-0), the last-place team in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, steamrolled the Chiefs 7-3 at the Arena.
Reinhart’s power-play goal early in the second period was the first of five unanswered goals that the Ice uncorked after the Chiefs (24-11-1-0) took a 3-2 lead.
Reinhart has 13 goals and 19 assists this season, his second year in the WHL.
Reinhart said he takes the high praise in stride.
“You don’t try to think about what anybody else is saying about you too much,” said the Vancouver, British Columbia, native. “You just try to play your game and hope people notice you for what you’re doing.”
Kootenay snapped a four-game losing streak one night after losing to the Chiefs 1-0 at home.
Goaltender Eric Williams picked up Friday’s shutout for Spokane, but he struggled 24 hours later. Williams allowed five goals on 20 shots before being replaced by Garret Hughson in the third period.
“We got outcompeted in every aspect of hockey,” Chiefs acting head coach Jon Klemm said. “There was nothing good about our game tonight, from the start of the game to the end of the game. That’s about all I can say. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Spokane’s highlight was two more goals for Todd Fiddler, who leads the WHL with 27. Fiddler also scored Friday’s lone goal and had a goal in the Chiefs’ final game before a nine-day holiday break.
Fiddler’s power-play goal 1:11 into the second period snapped a 2-all tie.
The Ice followed with their scoring rampage, which included another Reinhart goal.
Levi Cable, Tanner Faith and Joey Leach also scored during Kootenay’s offensive binge. Faith, a defenseman, hadn’t scored this year.
“(The Chiefs) beat us at home and it definitely motivates you the next night when you’re allowed this opportunity,” Reinhart said. “It doesn’t happen too much to have a home-and-home during the year.”
Spokane finished 1 for 6 on the power play while the Ice were 2 for 4.
“We didn’t try to do too much differently during the game,” Reinhart said. “The chances came and we were able to get our power play going.”
Spokane lost its third consecutive home game. Before the skid, the Chiefs had won 13 of 15 at home.
“Obviously, you want to take care of business at home every chance you get,” Klemm said. “We’ve been a really good home team the last few years and this is kind of uncharacteristic for us.”
The Chiefs don’t play at home again until Jan. 9.