The Spokane Chiefs have yet to show power on the power play.
Just last month, Spokane took a beating from with the Portland Winterhawks, who downed the Chiefs in three consecutive meetings.
What hurt the Chiefs the most was their inability to capitalize on the player advantage, as they failed to score on 18 power-play opportunities in the series.
In Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Winterhawks, the Chiefs, who had just a 17.7 percent success rate (14 for 79) on one-man advantages, fell right back into the same rhythm and failed to find the net on four power plays.
But that wasn’t the case for the Winterhawks, who were seventh in the Western Hockey League with 16 goals in 59 power plays ahead of Friday’s matchup. Portland finished the night with two scores on five power plays.
The Winterhawks outshot Spokane 17-8 in the first period with 6 minutes of the player advantage. Two of Portland’s scores in the first came on the power play by Kieffer Bellows after two of the Chiefs were called for high sticking.
“We just have to be more disciplined,” wingman Zach Fischer said. “Those penalty shots early on kind of cost us the game.”
The Chiefs couldn’t seem to catch a break early in the game and didn’t get a chance at a power play until almost 6 minutes into the second period when defenseman Conor MacEachern was given a penalty for interference.
Nearly 15 seconds into the one-man advantage, Chiefs defenseman Nolan Reid took a long shot on the left side,but couldn’t get through goalkeeper Cole Kehler. Spokane’s Fischer took the rebound and hit the puck into the net midair with 14:07 left in the period.
Officials reviewed the score and eventually waved off the goal that would have narrowed Portland’s lead to 3-2, saying Fischer guided the puck into the net with his hand.
“That could have been a game-changer, had that gone our way,” first-year Chiefs coach Dan Lambert said. “It was a goal on the ice. Typically, they have to be 100 percent sure, and I guess they must have been.”
For most of the night, the Chiefs had the upper hand in the 5-on-5 play, starting in the first when Spokane took its only lead of the game midway through the period.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan netted the goal off a feed from Jake McGrew, giving Spokane a 1-0 lead. It was Anderson-Dolan’s fifth goal of the season.
In the second period, the Chiefs dominated the 5-on-5 play again, outshooting the Winterhawks 24-9. But the Chiefs could power through Kehler, who finished the night with 47 saves.
“When you look at the opportunities that we had, we probably had enough,” Lambert said. “We just didn’t bury it. Ultimately, that was the difference in the game.”
Matthew Quigley and Cody Glass also scored for Portland.
Quigley shot the equalizer in midway through the first period when he took a long shot from the left side. The puck skipped of a Spokane helmet and zipped by goalkeeper Dawson Weatherill.
Glass finished the night with a goal late in the third period off a feed from wingman Skyler McKenzie.
The Chiefs moved to 8-7-1-1 on the season, remaining in fourth place in the U.S. Division with 18 points.