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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Chiefs lose despite controlling big chunk of game

The Spokane Chiefs dictated play for three-fourths of Friday night's game against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. It wasn't enough. Read story


After giving up a goal before the 4-minute mark of the first period, the Chiefs kept high-scoring Calgary off the scoreboard for more than 42 minutes. Calgary entered the game with 239 goals on the season, topped in the league only by conference leaders Brandon (267) and Kelowna (262). The Hitmen also finished 0 for 3 on the power play despite entering the game with the fourth-best power-play percentage in the league at 23.6.


Thanks to goals by Adam Helewka (unassisted for his club-high 31st), Blair Oneschuk (his first since Nov. 14 in an injury-riddled season) and Kailer Yamamoto, Spokane took a 3-1 lead into the final 14 minutes.


Calgary scored three times during a span of 6:15 to wipe away all of Spokane's good work.


"I thought we played a good game tonight, other than the fact that we gave up late goals in the third period," Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur said. ... "The game changed with us playing the easy game instead of the hard game. ... Their best guys stepped up and our best guys let us down tonight."


The Hitmen were slogging along with a record of 23-17-1-4 when they started their hot streak Jan. 18 with a 5-2 win over Regina. Every game since has been a win except a 4-2 setback against Saskatoon on Feb. 13.


"We've just come together as a team ever since about a month ago," said Calgary 20-year-old forward Kenton Helgesen, the brother of Chiefs 17-year-old defenseman Tyson Helgesen. "We've started playing our game well."


The Chiefs have lost 15 of their last 21 games, but they are 4-5 since upsetting Central Division-leading Medicine Hat on Jan. 31. The Chiefs are slowly getting players back, cutting their number of scratches from a season-high nine down to five. Among those, left wing Markson Bechtold (illness) is expected back soon, right wing Jacob Cardiff (upper body) is listed as TBD and center Kolten Olynek (lower body) is listed as 2-3 weeks. Left wing Hudson Elynuik (upper body) is still 4-6 weeks away, which would jeopardize being ready for the playoffs, and defenseman Matt Sozanski (upper body) is done for the season.


"You never turn it around until you win consistently and we haven't been doing that," Nachbaur said.


The Chiefs dropped to 12-13-2-0 at home, with nine regular-season games left at the Arena.


Spokane had won its last two games against Calgary, 3-2 in a shootout last year in Alberta and 4-3 at the Arena during the 2012-13 season.


Chris Derrick
Chris Derrick joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. He currently is a copy editor for the Sports Desk.

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