Spokane threw everything they could at Portland goalie Adin Hill, but it wasn’t enough as the Winterhawks won 3-2 on Friday night to take third place away from the Chiefs in the Western Hockey League’s U.S. Division.
Despite outshooting Portland 39-18, the Chiefs could not get it done against Hill, who had 37 saves.
Alex Schoenborn scored what proved to be the winning goal when he broke free and flipped a shot past Spokane goalie Tyson Verhelst with 17 seconds left in the second period.
“We didn’t play smart enough to win the hockey game,” coach Don Nachbaur said. “It was a really important game. I didn’t think we were sharp in a lot of areas tonight.”
The Chiefs (20-18-3-2, 45 points) came in a point up on Portland but now trail the Winterhawks (22-19-2-0, 46) by the same margin.
The Chiefs came out swinging and the game had barely begun when Evan Fiala raked a shot at Hill and the puck made it through to give Spokane a 1-0 lead. Assists went to Curtis Miske and Hudson Elynuik.
“It was a lot of luck and good screening by the guys,” Fiala said about his sixth goal of the season. “I think our boys tried hard, but we just need to execute.”
The Chiefs kept pressure on and the Winterhawks failed to get a shot on goal for the first eight minutes of the game. Right after that, Markson Bechtold dropped gloves with Portland’s Alex Overhardt and an overhand right sent Overhardt down.
But the cheers faded away at the 12:46 mark, when Schoenborn put on a stunning skating display to get open. He then fired a pass to a wide-open Dominic Turgeon, who shot the puck past Verhelst to tie the game.
At the 17:20 mark, Jack Dougherty skated free and fired a brilliant pass to Cody Glass, who got it past Verhelst. The power-play goal gave Portland a 2-1 lead even though the Winterhawks ended the period trailing 17-6 in shots on goal.
The Chiefs remained on the attack in the second period and it only took about two minutes for Spokane to even the score, when Keanu Yamamoto deflected a shot by defenseman Matt Sozanski into the Portland net for his 13th goal.
Yamamoto said the team played hard enough to win.
“It was a tough loss. I thought our chances were there,” he said. “But we broke down defensively. We just got away from our game plan a couple times. We’ve got to play a full 60 minutes.”
“Our goalie had no chance on any of those,” Nachbaur said. “Our guys left the goalie undefended.”
The Chiefs went 0 for 4 on power-play opportunities, the Winterhawks went 1 for 6.
The Chiefs play in Lethbridge on Wednesday.
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