Fans came dressed in costume to celebrate Halloween a night early at the Spokane Arena on Tuesday, and the Spokane Chiefs obliged, treating 3,524 fans to a scary-good first period that left the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds reeling.
With leading scorer Mitch Holmberg out with an injury, Spokane had its best scoring night of the Western Hockey League season, taking a 5-0 lead after the first 20 minutes en route to an 8-2 win over Seattle to remain undefeated in seven home games.
The Thunderbirds lost a 2-1 decision the last time they visited the Arena, but this trip took a decidedly different turn midway through the first period.
Mike Aviani capped a Spokane power play with the opening goal at the 9:21 mark. In the next eight minutes four more Chiefs found the back of the Seattle net, often just seconds apart.
Tyler King followed that 64 seconds later. Todd Fiddler broke through by picking off a Seattle pass at the Spokane blue line and racing up ice, beating goaltender Brandon Glover cleanly at 16:11 into the period, with Carter Proft and Liam Stewart following with two more goals in the next 70 seconds.
The goal deluge got Glover pulled in favor of Justin Myles, but both Seattle netminders allowed four goals.
“I don’t know what to say,” Fiddler said. “We got a goal to break through and it kind of snowballed from there.”
Spokane coach Don Nachbaur liked that his young players took advantage of Seattle turnovers.
“You have to look at why they were turning the puck over,” he said. “We did a nice job taking advantage of it.”
Spokane added a sixth goal, Fiddler’s second of the game, in the first minute of the second period on a carry-over power play. Brenden Kichton scored on a clean wrist shot from the point and Aviani bookended the effort with his second goal of the night in the third period.
Four of the team’s veterans were on the bench for this game. In addition to Holmberg, Marek Kalus, Tanner Mort and Blake Gal all are out of the lineup as the team returns home for six consecutive games after going 2-2 on the road.
“We have a bunch of young guys who got a lot of ice time on this road trip,” Nachbaur said.
“We got some veteran guys hurt and they’ve had to step up and play a lot of minutes. The thing about young players is that they’re going to have good games, and they’re going to have bad games. Veterans aren’t like that.”
The Spokane power play scored on 2 of 3 opportunities while the penalty kill was successful on 2 of 3 Seattle power plays.
“Both of our specialties are playing well and I would say they’re the best part of our game right now,” Nachbaur said. “We can be a little iffy on our 5-on-5 right now.”