You’ll forgive the Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips for a sloppy, mostly listless first two periods Sunday night. Both teams were playing for a third straight night, and the Chiefs were playing their fourth game in five nights.
The third period, however, provided some excitement, though not quite enough for the Chiefs. Their late surge came up just short in a 3-2 loss to the U.S. Division leading Silvertips.
The Chiefs nearly erased an Everett 3-0 lead but could not get the tying goal past Silvertips goaltender Dustin Wolf in the dying seconds.
“We found a way to find energy (in the third period) and found a way to push but to give that team a three-goal lead is tough,” Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert said. “But I’m proud of the guys for the way they fought back. We just need to make sure we can’t fall that far behind like this.”
Connor Dewar scored his 29th of the season at 12:32 of the third to give Everett a 3-0 lead. It looked like the dagger, but the Chiefs got on the board 48 seconds later when Jaret Anderson-Dolan sniped a shot past Wolf on the power play. It was Anderson-Dolan’s 33rd goal of the season.
The goal got Spokane on the board and gave them a little jump. Kailer Yamamoto deflected a shot past Wolf at 17:07 of the third for his 13th of the year to cut Everett’s lead to one.
The Chiefs pulled goaltender Donovan Buskey late to get an extra attacker. They got pucks on net but couldn’t cash in.
“We never quit,” Lambert said. “That’s what you want to see out of your group.”
After a scoreless first period, Everett got second-period goals from Spencer Gerth and Riley Sutter to take a 2-0 lead. Scoring chances were at a premium. Everett had just 16 shots on net through two periods, while Spokane had only nine.
The Chiefs put 17 shots on Wolf in the third during their push. Everett played it safe and had just five shots on net in the final frame.
The line of Ethan McIndoe, Anderson-Dolan and Yamamoto once again showed why it’s one of the best in the Western Hockey League. The line accounted for both Spokane goals and has heated up lately.
Both Yamamoto and Anderson-Dolan had five-point games Saturday night at Tri-City, and Yamamoto had a five-point game as well on Feb. 2 at Kootenay.
“We’re in that groove right now,” Anderson-Dolan said. “We’re not being too complicated. A lot of our goals, we’re just shooting the puck and working off the goal line and executing plays.”
Yamamoto now has 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 13 games since coming back from the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Buskey got the start, giving normal starter Dawson Weatherill the night off. Buskey stopped 18 of 21 shots.
“I thought he made some good saves early and kept it at 0-0,” Lambert said. “He probably would like to get that first one back. He hadn’t played in a month, too, so it’s putting him in a tough position.”
The loss snapped Spokane’s four-game winning streak and 10-game point streak. The Chiefs were 8-0-2-0 heading into Sunday’s game, helping them to third place in the U.S. Division. Despite the loss, the Chiefs remain in third, three points ahead of both the idle Tri-City Americans and the Seattle Thunderbirds, who lost 5-3 at Portland Sunday.
“These last 10 games have really showed what kind of impact we can make further down the road if we all buy-in and decide to play Chiefs hockey,” Anderson-Dolan said.
The Chiefs return to the Spokane Arena ice Wednesday when they play the Kamloops Blazers for a Valentine’s Day game.