Training camp may be the time for younger Spokane Chiefs to make an impression, but it was three veterans who scored two goals each to get the stands rocking Sunday in the annual Red-White game.
Leading scorers Kailer Yamamoto, Dominic Zwerger and veteran Curtis Miske all scored twice to power the Red team to a 7-2 victory in the preseason game that was full of prospects and young talent.
“It’s good for us to get goals and give the fans what they came to see,” said Miske, a 19-year-old forward from Beaumont, Alberta. “We were a little chippy here and there, but we are all friends at the end of the day.”
Coach Don Nachbaur, who didn’t actually coach the game, said the score was deceiving.
“I thought it was a really good game, despite the score,” he said. “We had veterans play like veterans. We’ll see how it pans out over the next couple weeks. But the season begins now.”
Well, at least the practice portion of it. The Chiefs travel next weekend to play three exhibition games before opening the season Sept. 24 at the Tri-City Americans.
Spokane then opens its home schedule on Oct. 1 versus the same Americans.
But on Sunday, the game – which had several younger players sporting different colored gear – started a bit slow until 16-year-old forward Max Giangualano scored the opening goal off of a deflection at the 13:57 mark.
The White team’s lead lasted until the 1:10 mark of the second period when Yamamoto fired a shot past goalie Donovan Buskey to tie the game.
Later in the period, Miske got a backdoor shot past goalie Matt Berlin, who had a rough day and ended up giving up six of the Red-team goals.
Then at the 12:03 mark of the second period, Zwerger scored to make it 3-1. Eleven seconds later, Yamamoto scored again to make it 4-1 and the rout was on.
The White team scored its final goal when Jaret Anderson-Dolan fired a pass to Jake McGrew, who got the shot past goalie Jayden Sittler to make it 4-2.
But Miske added his second goal at the 16:49 mark of the second period, Zwerger scored again at 7:46 of the third, and Ethan McIndoe finished off the scoring with a goal at 12:41.
As training camp continues, one of the biggest decisions will be how the team eventually gets down to its three overage players. The team traded for Sittler after last year’s starting goalie, Tyson Verhelst, left the game. Sittler joins Markson Bechtold, Jacob Cardiff, Keanu Yamamoto and Zwerger as the team’s 20-year-olds.
That cut to three players must be made by the second week of the regular season. Until then, the players relished a game amid the toil of training camp.
“It’s good to be back,” said Kailer Yamamoto, who led the team with 71 points (19 goals) last season. “It’s been great this whole camp. I’m just ready for the rest of the season.”