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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Chiefs’ win Friday

The Spokane Chiefs continue to struggle at home, losing to Kootenay 4-3. The unedited game story is below.

Here is last night's Chiefs' win, covered for top-notch correspondent Jason Shoot while I was courtside in Pullman. My mistake.

By Dave Trimmer; (509) 927-2154

The home struggles continue for the Spokane Chiefs.

The Kootenay Ice ignored an Arena crowd of 9,265 and beat the Chiefs 4-3 for the third time this season.

“I don’t really have an answer for that,” Chiefs forward Tyler Johnson said. “Maybe guys are too comfortable playing at home. Home crowd, you expect to win, maybe you get too comfortable and something happens. We just have to come out the same as we do on the road and have better games here.”

Spokane (29-19-3-1, 62 points) fell to 13-11-1 at home, including a 3-1 win over Kootenay, with time running out on the Western Hockey League season to improve playoff position.

It was a disjointed game with referee Nathan Weiler calling 21 minor penalties that resulted in 17 power plays. Only two goals were scored with the teams skating five-on-five, both by the Ice (32-16,2-2, 68) and one of those came after a penalty expired..

“Being at home we do the same things wrong that we do on the road, too,” Spokane captain Jared Cowen said. “Maybe they just come out more at home. Something has to change, guys have to realize what’s wrong and fix it.

“I don’t think it’s habit, I think there are just some things that guys don’t think are important. … We had a lot of chances, we just didn’t capitalize, that is the story of the night.”

The first period had a month’s worth of strangeness, starting two minutes in with the first of five-straight power plays before the midway point.

Finally the Ice broke through at 17:10 when both teams were skating four-on-fourth. Kevin King got the goal on his second whack at a rebound off Joey Leach’s shot from the point.

Then in the final four minutes the Ice received 10 minutes worth of penalties. The Chiefs got a disputed goal – while Kootenay was getting a delayed penalty – when Kyle Beach got his foot involved during a five-on-three. That tied the game at the 19:14 and the five-on-three remained. During the closing seconds of the period Brayden McNabb earned four minutes for a high stick that cut Johnson’s lip.

The five-on-three carried 30 seconds into the second period, when McNabb’s penalty started, stretching the two-man advantage to 1:14 with a power play of 2:46 following.

The Chiefs cashed in, but of course it wasn’t that easy. Wahl’s goal at 30 seconds coincided with the end of the five-on-three so there was a long discussion to determine if the Chiefs had a 4-minute power play for McNabb’s penalty or 46 seconds of a five-on-three, which was the verdict.

Johnson was back on the ice to get an assist on Wahl’s goal but the Chiefs didn’t cash in the continued five-on-three or McNabb’s four minutes.

“After we scored our second goal to go ahead 2-1, we really didn’t make much of our 45-second five-on-three, that was probably the biggest swing,” Spokane coach Hardy Sauter said. “I think it was poor execution, for lack of a better description.”

Late in the second period the Ice had a five-on-three and McNabb scored from the top of the left circle just as the first penalty ran out.  After another review, Kootenay got an additional 90 seconds of power play.

The Chiefs took care of that but shortly after Steele Boomer scored for Kootenay during a scramble in front of the net, making it 3-2 for the ice at 18:21, the first five-on-five goal of the game.

The third period was a struggle as the Chiefs had to kill off three penalties, after killing off two late in the second.

“We knew after having the majority of the power plays  early we were going to have a majority of the penalties later,” Sauter said. “In knowing that you should monitor where you put your stick and make sure you’re not hitting anybody high or pushing anybody. All those things are game management.

“Although we had good energy in the third, we were playing hard, we weren’t managing the game was well as we should.”

Joey Leach connected at 7:34 of the third period when he was just throwing the puck at the Spokane goal. Beach got a short-handed goal at 17:04, dumping the puck into a wide-open net after Ice goalie Todd Mathews collided with a teammate in the corner.

“I don’t think we came out very prepared to play,” Johnson said. “They’re a very good team and we didn’t play our best. We waited until the third period to get going and it was just too late.”

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