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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, July 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Swift Current stymies Chiefs

Swift Current - and the charieties that will share more than 4,500 stuff toys - came up big at the Arena Saturday night as the Broncos defeated the Spokane Chiefs 2-1 on Teddy Bear Toss night.

Read below for my unedited game story.

By Dave Trimmer; (509) 927-2154

All good things come to an end.

Unfortunately for the Spokane Chiefs it wasn’t their 0-fer in coming from behind when trailing after two periods or the Swift Current Bronco’s perfection in keeping opponents from coming behind in the third period.

Instead it was Spokane’s six-game Western Hockey League winning streak, thanks to a third-period short-handled goal by Taylor Vause that lifted Swift Current to a 2-1 victory before 7,469 fans at the Arena Saturday night.

It’s not that the Chiefs didn’t have every opportunity to keep their string going but they whiffed on several outstanding chances and Broncos’ goaltender Mark Friesen snuffed out many more among Spokane’s 43 shots.

“The first period was tough, we just took too many penalties, plain and simple,” Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter said. “But I thought the second and third we did some real good things. We created some chances. Ultimately it was a combination of their goalie making some good saves and us hitting him in the belly.”

Spokane killed four penalties in the first period, including two in the first five minutes, and escaped with only a 1-0 deficit. The Broncos goal came when Stepan Novotny notched his 16th at 12:31 after a turnover in the Spokane end. Although the shots were 13-12 for the Chiefs, Swift had more quality scoring chances.

The Chiefs had more opportunities in the second, out-shooting the Broncos 15-12 and it continued into the third when Spokane had a 15-6 shot advantage.

But with the Chiefs on an early power play, Swift broke out with a 2-on-1. Vause fed Michael Stickland for a close-range shot that James Reid stopped, only to have Vause poke the rebound into a wide-open net.

Less than a minute later the Chiefs finally broke through with defenseman Brenden Kitchton’s power play goal that brought down 4,651 stuff toys on Teddy Bear Toss night.

“It doesn’t really matter (getting the teddy bear goal) but it’s special getting all those bears down for the kids,” Kitchton said.

He also expected his teammates would continue the on-slaught.

“I didn’t have a doubt, with those guys … they had shots all night,” he said. “I thought they were going to bury it but they just ran into a hot goalie.”

Reid expected the same thing.

“They had two lucky breaks and capitalized on them,” he said. “It’s too bad we lost but I thought we played pretty good. We had a lot of good chances, their goalie played really well. I try not to watch too much, I just try to focus on my game.”

Swift Current (17-15-2, 36 points), which is now 12-0 when leading after two periods, was playing for the first time in fourth nights, though it’s the first of five games in eight days on a swing through the U.S. Division.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs (20-9-2, 42 points) arrived home at 5:30 a.m. after a 7-1 win in Chilliwack and fell to 0-7 when trailing after two periods.

“Maybe the first 10 minutes we had a little jet leg but really I thought the difference was they had chances and put them in and we had chances and didn’t put them in,” Sauter said. “We had the right guys on the business end and their goalie came up big.”

Ice chips

The Broncos were without center Cody Eakin (26 goals, 17 assists), who is at Team Canada’s tryout camp for the World Junior Tournament with Spokane captain Jared Spurgeon. … Jared Spurgeon is filling in as the Chiefs’ captain and rookies Grant Leedahl and Tanner Mort dressed, both seeing time paired with Spurgeon on defense. … The Chiefs are at Seattle on Tuesday. Portland comes in Wednesday followed by the Thunderbirds on Friday before the nine-day Christmas break. … No trades are allowed during the Christmas break and players at the World Juniors can’t be traded until after the tournament, which ends Jan. 5. The trading deadline is Jan. 10.

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