As one might expect, it was the veteran players making most of the noise at the Spokane Chiefs’ annual Red-White scrimmage. But a couple newcomers also made sure fans left with their names circled on the roster.
Russian import defenseman Egor Arbuzov scored a hat trick to help Team White to an 8-4 victory. Veteran Jake McGrew had two goals for Team Red and 17-year-old returnee Luke Toporowski scored two for Team White.
It marked the end of training camp and the transition to preseason play as the Chiefs begin to form their roster.
“I was very pleased with training camp,” head coach Dan Lambert said. “Today’s game ramps up a little bit and this is where the older guys, the returning guys, should look pretty good.”
Arbuzov, who is still learning English, scored in each period and opened the game with a goal from the point that he zipped past goaltender Dawson Weatherill.
“Every time we see him out there it seems like he’s getting more comfortable,” Lambert said. “He doesn’t speak English overly well right now but he does speak hockey and I think he knows where to go on the ice and he knows how to get involved offensively as a defenseman. At this point in time it’s hard to gauge, but he’s certainly looked real good for us so far.”
Bobby Russell, acquired in June from the Kootenay Ice, scored two goals for Team White, the second one into an empty net.
Jeff Faith and Ty Smith each scored for Team Red in the third while newcomer Connor Gabruch had a goal for Team White in the second period.
“I think everybody’s pushing each other and everybody wants to get better out here and prepare for the season,” McGrew said. “I think our vets have done a good job when we’re playing against our other vets, just pushing each other and making each other play the best they can.”
Toporowski comes into the season with a year under his belt. He scored 10 goals and had 13 assists last season in 61 games. He’ll likely be counted on this year to produce more offense.
“I’m coming back with more confidence,” he said. “Just being comfortable with the guys and it’s good to be back and see all the guys. We’re just ready to get this season on the road.”
Each team featured two goalies – Bailey Brkin and Donovan Buskey for Team White, and Weatherill and Campbell Arnold for Team Red. Those four will continue to compete for the opening-night roster spots.
“We’ve got a ways to go,” Lambert said. “I think that’s why the preseason is here. We have four goalies remaining and I think guys are going to continue to make or break their own breaks, I guess. They’re going to get opportunities in preseason, all four of them as far as I know, to see what they can do and the steps that they’ve taken.”
Lambert added that all four goalies have had good days throughout training camp.
The scrimmage featured six 2003-born players, four on Team Red. Lambert said he was pleased with how this summer’s Bantam Draft picks performed.
“Overall, I thought our young guys did a great job all four days, and it’s been a fun week,” he said.
The Chiefs will narrow down their roster before heading to Everett, as six teams gather for three days of preseason games. The Chiefs play Portland on Friday, Vancouver on Saturday and Seattle on Sunday.
“The pace of practice is going to go up drastically over the next few days,” Lambert said. “We’re going to give them a day off (today) and then, starting on Tuesday, we’re going to get to work and that’s where we’re going to really start focusing on what we want to look like.”