Being on the penalty kill nine times in one game makes winning hard.
Doing it without two key players from separate lines is even harder.
In Spokane’s 6-4 loss to Kamloops at the Arena Saturday, leading scorer Kailer Yamamoto (31 points, 17 goals) and forward Ethan McIndoe both left the game with the game in the first period with undisclosed injuries, according to Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur.
The Chiefs committed nine penalties and the Blazers scored three goals off the power play.
“It really shook up all our lines, and we had no continuity,” Nachbaur said. “We lost two guys from two different lines, which changed the whole complexion of our team.”
The severity of the two players’ injuries is unknown.
Losing players aside, Nachbaur was disappointed with his team’s discipline and effort on the penalty kill in the loss.
“The difference in the game for me was all the undisciplined penalties we took and we didn’t compete hard enough. We didn’t compete in penalty killing,” Nachbaur said. “We gave up some real easy goals by not competing.”
The Chiefs jumped out to a two-goal lead with 16 minutes, 11 seconds left to play in the first period. McIndoe scored and Hayden Ostir followed 11 seconds later.
But that dominance didn’t last long, as the Blazers scored five straight goals in the first and second periods to charge to a 5-2 lead.
Keanu Yamamoto helped the Chiefs make a surge at the end of the second period, as he knifed through the Blazers’ defense to put one past Kamloops’ goaltender Connor Ingram. In the third period, Yamamoto got loose on a breakaway and beat the goalie for a shorthanded goal, briefly cutting the lead to one with 17:59 to play in the game.
“We need that,” Nachbaur said of Yamamoto’s scoring punch. “We needed someone to step up and he definitely did. He put the team on his shoulders at times and I appreciate it. He played fast and made some keys plays for us.”
But the Blazers quickly quelled the Chiefs’ momentum as Rudolf Balcers fooled Jayden Sittler, who relieved Weatherill in the second period, and had a wide-open backhand goal 6:22 into the final period.
It was a punch in the gut for the Chiefs.
“I thought the third period our guys showed a lot of pride, they came back, we had it at 5-4,” Nachbaur said. “Then we made a huge mistake giving the puck to their team.”
The Chiefs head to Kamloops to play the Blazers in back-to-back games on Wednesday. While the loss was deflating, Chiefs’ captain Tyson Helgesen there were things to build on in tonight’s loss.
“I think we have to fix those lapse and I think we’ll be a good team,” he said. “I think the first thing is we need to stay disciplined … but I think we had a really good effort and a really strong third period. We just need to build off that heading into the next game.”
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