Few matchups get the Spokane Chiefs going quite like those with the Everett Silvertips.
The Chiefs made quick work of their U.S Division foe again Wednesday, scoring four times in the first period en route to a 7-2 whacking in front of an Arena crowd of 5,031.
Brady Calla bookended the Chiefs’ scoring with his 15th and 16th goals of the season, and goalie Dustin Tokarski made 35 saves to earn the victory.
Of the eight meetings between the two U.S. Division foes this season, the Chiefs won seven, including the four in Spokane by a combined 19-3.
“We needed a game like this before the three we have against two top teams,” said Chiefs defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who assisted on two goals. “We got our power play going too, so that’s a good sign heading into the weekend.”
The timing of Spokane’s final matchup with Everett – and the momentum it handed the Chiefs – couldn’t have been much better. The Tri-City Americans (48-18-0-3) visit the Arena on Friday before Spokane (44-22-0-3) completes the home-and-home date Saturday.
On Sunday, the Chiefs close out the regular season back at the Arena against Kelowna (44-21-1-3), which stands one point ahead of Spokane for third place in the WHL’s Western Conference standings. No matter how the weekend goes, Spokane is assured home ice in the first round of the playoffs but can attain no better than the third seed.
“If we can get the third seed that’d be awesome, but we want to make sure we get our game plan right and have some fun,” Calla said.
Spokane dominated Everett (26-34-7-2), especially on special teams. The Chiefs scored three power-play goals on nine such advantages and killed off the two minor penalties they were assessed.
Sound penalty-killing and power-play units – ranked first and fourth in the league, respectively – have been a mainstay this season for the Chiefs, who improved to 39-0-0 when they score at least three goals.
The game was out of reach after the first period, when Spokane needed only eight shots to score four times. The latter three goals came in a span of 2 minutes, 4 seconds, the first of which was the most elegant.
With the Chiefs already ahead 1-0, Mitch Wahl and Tyler Johnson completed a give-and-go to advance into the attack zone with Levko Koper trailing, setting up a 3-on-2. Wahl dropped the puck to the hard-charging Koper, who split Thomas Heemskerk’s pads for a goal, his 23rd of the season, with 3:55 left.
With 12:27 remaining in the second period, Drayson Bowman’s team-leading 44th goal was enough to finally chase Heemskerk to Everett’s bench with the Silvertips down 6-0.
A minute and a half after Bowman’s goal, Calla scored again to make it 7-0. Only then did Everett get on the board when Mike Alexander flicked a 20-foot shot past Tokarski.
“The guys did a good job of seeing the open players and hitting them with the puck,” Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter said. “It sounds simple, but there’s some nights when guys are open but you don’t see them. … Tonight was one of those nights where they made a good read and made a good pass.”
Chiefs 7, Silvertips 2
First Period—1, Spokane, Calla 15 (Bowman, Ulmer), 1:01. 2, Spokane, Koper 23 (Wahl, Johnson), 16:05. 3, Spokane, Roman 9 (Wahl, Bowman), 17:26 (pp). 4, Spokane, Johnson 26 (Spurgeon, Wahl), 18:09 (pp). Second Period—, Spokane, Donaghy 10 (Spurgeon, Cratsenberg), 6:35. 6, Spokane, Bowman 44 7:33. 7, Spokane, Calla 16 (Roman, Bowman), 9:03 (pp). 8, Everett, Alexander 5 (Burt, Parker), 11:56 (sh). Third Period—9, Everett, Iwanski 6 (Dailey, White), 17:00.
Power-play Opp.—Everett 0 of 2; Spokane 3 of 9. Saves—Everett, Heemskerk 4-2-0—6; Simpson 0-4-7—11. Spokane, Tokarski 7-12-15—34. A—5341.
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