Prince Albert fighting for East’s final playoff spot; Spokane fifth in West
Shane Danyluk’s critique of his Prince Albert Raiders sounds similar to what coach Don Nachbaur could say about his Spokane Chiefs.
“One of our biggest problems right now is consistency,” Danyluk said Wednesday after his two goals helped the Raiders knock off the Chiefs 4-1 in Western Hockey League play at the Arena. “We have to be ready to play, no matter who we’re playing, every night. When we play top teams, we seem to show up, so we have to bring that when we play lower-seeded teams.”
The Raiders (28-28-2-2, 60 points), fighting for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final postseason berth, have been at their best and worst in the last three weeks. They lost to the conference’s last-place team, Lethbridge, on Jan. 29 but beat the conference’s No. 1, Edmonton, last week.
The Chiefs (34-21-3-2) are also playing an up-and-down game that concerns Nachbaur. Coming off two solid wins in which they totaled 12 goals, the Chiefs were held to Keanu Yamamoto’s third-period goal after Prince Albert had built a 3-0 lead with three second-period goals.
“We weren’t sharp passing the puck, there were a lot of fumbled pucks and hitting sticks,” Nachbaur said. “To me, you have to move your feet to play the game and we didn’t move our feet at all. We did everything standing still.”
Danyluk entered the game with three goals on the season, including a Feb. 4 winner against Swift Current. He said his last two-goal game came early last season, but he had never scored two as quickly as he did against the Chiefs.
Danyluk scored at 13:29 of the second for a 2-0 Raiders lead. He had a 1-on-1 play against Chiefs goalie Eric Williams, who played for Prince Albert the last time the Raiders were in Spokane, during the 2011-12 season.
Slightly more than 3 minutes later, Danyluk took another pass from linemate Chance Braid and went to work.
“On both of them … Braid made two great chips and I had speed and just went wide and put it in the net,” Danyluk said.
“I don’t think Eric got a lot of support in front of him tonight,” Nachbaur said. “No pointing fingers at Eric. The guys in front of him didn’t play hard enough.”
Dakota Conroy also scored twice for the Raiders, the second with 2:31 left as Williams was attempting to leave the ice.
Raiders 20-year-old goalie Cole Cheveldave, whose up-and-down season mirrors his team’s, made 36 saves as the Chiefs outshot Prince Albert 37-27.
“I don’t think we got traffic to the net,” Nachbaur said. “(Cheveldave) saw every puck and that’s on us. We’re not getting to the net.”
The Chiefs need four points to secure a playoff berth. Spokane’s loss and Vancouver’s win allowed the Giants, holding down sixth place in the Western Conference, to move within five points of the Chiefs.
Left wing Adam Hascic (upper body, 2-4 weeks) has been added to the Chiefs’ injury report, joining center Liam Stewart (lower body, 2-4 weeks), and center Blair Oneschuk and defenseman Cole Wedman (upper body, week-to-week).
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