The Spokane Chiefs’ mission is clear: Win two games or see their season end.
It starts when Spokane hosts Everett tonight at the Arena in Game 6 of the teams’ opening-round Western Hockey League playoff series. The Silvertips lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 after an easy win in Game 5 on Friday night at Everett.
The loss was much like the one Spokane suffered in the first game of the series.
Then the Chiefs played well but lost an overtime heartbreaker in Game 2 before rallying for wins at home in Games 3 and 4.
Are losses like Game 5 easier to forget than one like Game 2? Yes and no, said Chiefs assistant captain Derek Ryan.
“It was a bigger game,” Ryan said of Friday. “But I’m not really worried at all. I was talking to guys in the locker room. We’re not worried. We’ve just got to take care of business back home and Game 7 is just one game, so that’s it.”
Coach Bill Peters said the only way the team is going to accomplish that is to forget about a short stretch of poor play in the second period that cost them the game.
Everett’s offense got back on track with a three-goal burst before Spokane regained control.
“This one, you just flush it and move on,” Peters said. “Everybody’s won their home games – the home team is 5 for 5 and we’ve got to continue that trend on. That’s our challenge. That’s the only thing we can be focused on.”
In some ways, nothing has changed about the series. The Chiefs need to play their best hockey to get by the WHL’s top-ranked team. When they have done that, the results have been good for Spokane. It takes every player, however, or it can get ugly.
“We need guys to step up – the guys know who they are in the dressing room,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to step up, play a hard Game 6, and hopefully come back here (Everett) for Game 7 and prove ourselves.”
They should have plenty of sources of motivation, including the fact that some of the Chiefs won’t be back next season. A loss in this series would be the final games in the major junior careers of the 20-year-olds and a few National Hockey League draft picks.
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