The Spokane Chiefs suffered one of their worst defeats of the season Saturday night as the Regina Pats came to town and won 7-2 in a game that didn’t seem that close.
The nightmare became clear when Regina’s first score was a short-handed goal. By the end of the first period, the Pats had four scores on only 12 shots on goal.
“We have no excuse. To be honest, we got our lunch handed to us and handled by a very good hockey team,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “We weren’t ready to match their competitiveness or their speed.”
Spokane (19-16-3-2, 43 points) only played one of the two new forwards obtained last week in trades that sent away longtime Chiefs Adam Helewka and Riley Whittingham.
Wyatt Johnson played, but Presten Kopeck was an injury scratch Saturday. Nachbaur predicted that the team would take a step back as it got Johnson and Kopeck assimilated.
But that wasn’t the problem Saturday night.
“That game was a mindset game,” Nachbaur said. “Our guys just thought it was going to be an easy game.”
Things got off to a slow start for Spokane, which lost the puck in front of its net that led to a scrum three minutes into the game in which none of the players could find the puck. But somehow, Regina (18-18-3-3, 42 points) failed to score.
The real pain started at the 9:47 mark when Austin Wagner broke free with Adam Brooks, who fired a pass to Wagner and he did the rest and scored the short-handed goal to make it 1-0 Pats.
Just a couple of minutes later, Regina’s Connor Hobbs got the puck just inside the Spokane blue line and fired a shot that hit goalie Tyson Verhelst, but the puck skittered into the net. The power-play goal made it 2-0 Pats.
Some 17 seconds later and before the fans had a chance to finish booing, Regina’s Jared Freadrich powered a shot past Verhelst to make it 3-0.
Nachbaur immediately called a timeout.
During a power play, Keanu Yamamoto caught a flying puck, dropped it and passed to an open Hudson Elynuik, who hammered it home at the 16:18 mark to make it 3-1 Pats.
But less than a minute later, Verhelst got out of position and Brooks fired a shot that bounced off of the back side of Verhelst and into the net to make it 4-1 Pats.
Nachbaur pulled goalie Verhelst and gave Lasse Petersen a try inside the net for the Chiefs.
But it didn’t seem to matter as Regina’s Sam Steel collected a ricochet off of a Lane Zablocki shot and Steel knocked it past Petersen to make it 5-1 Pats at the 3:54 mark of the second period.
Just 27 seconds into the third period, Ethan McIndoe re-energized the crowd when he had the puck rebound off of Regina goalie Jordan Hollett and McIndoe slammed it home to make the score 5-2. Assists were awarded on the play to Evan Fiala and Dalton Hamaliuk.
“That felt really great. Fiala did a good job of getting the puck through,” McIndoe said. “But our competitive level wasn’t where it needed to be.”
Regina tacked on goals by Steel and Wagner, who both ended up with two scores in the game, to finish off the 7-2 debacle.
The Chiefs return to the ice at 5:05 p.m. Sunday to take on the U.S. Division-leading Everett Silvertips.
“We have a new chance” Sunday, Petersen said. “I think we will come out faster and more hungry to win the puck.”