As random as hockey is, it’s good to get some lucky bounces.
The Spokane Chiefs got a number of lucky bounces and had players in the right spots at the right times as they rolled to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades at the Arena.
Ethan McIndoe had two goals, both the result of him camping in front of the net.
After the Blades took a 1-0 lead thanks to a lucky bounce of their own – a Kirby Dach shot hit the post and bounced off a Chiefs defenseman and into the net – McIndoe skated to the crease. Filip Kral sent the puck to the front and it deflected off of McIndoe’s skate.
McIndoe’s second goal gave the Chiefs a 2-1 lead when he scooped the puck from beneath Blades goaltender Nolan Maier and into the net.
“Pucks were just sitting there for me to put into the net so it worked out well,” McIndoe said.
The Chiefs also took advantage of their improving special teams. They scored on two of their five power plays and killed a crucial 5-on-3 in the second period.
Milos Fafrak was already in the box for charging when defenseman Dalton Hamaliuk played the puck into the crowd for a delay of game. The Blades had earlier tied the game at 2 thanks to Dach’s second goal and suddenly had a two-man advantage for 1 minute, 17 seconds.
But the Chiefs killed the penalty, and just 6 seconds later Jaret Anderson-Dolan got the puck thanks to a lucky bounce and put it past Maier from the right circle. The goal ended up being the winner.
“I always think, especially on the PK, goaltending has a lot to do with it,” Chiefs coach Dan Lambert said. “Since we got Kailer (Yamamoto) back, it seems like our PK has been a lot sharper, maybe even more of a threat as well.”
The Chiefs killed four penalties on the night and have killed 34 of 37 penalties in the past nine games. The Chiefs have three shorthanded goals in that span.
Goaltender Donovan Buskey got his second straight start and turned aside 23 of 25 Saskatoon shots.
“We wanted to give him the start,” Lambert said. “We have a lot of big games coming up and we wanted to give Dawson (Weatherill) a bit of a rest.”
Hudson Elynuik and Zach Fischer picked up the Chiefs’ power-play goals. Jeff Faith scored his second of the season in the third period when he deflected a Tyson Helgesen shot from the point.
Helgesen had two assists on the night. Anderson-Dolan had an assist to go along with his goal, as did Elynuik. Kral also had two assists on the night.
The Chiefs outshot the Blades 38-25 and allowed just one shot on net in the third period.
The Chiefs have won four of their last five games and moved one point past the Tri-City Americans into second place in the U.S. Division. The Americans have two games in hand.
The Chiefs have remarkably improved on home ice.
Since a 1-0 loss to the Victoria Royals on Nov. 17 – a sloppy game with few scoring chances – the Chiefs have scored 26 goals in four home games. They had just 24 goals on home ice in the previous nine home games.
“We talked about a few things and the players responded,” Lambert said. “It was how we approached the game and how we played at home. We were different than we were on the road and it’s nice to be rewarded.”