The first rule for when you’re having trouble dealing with an opponent’s power play: Stop committing penalties.
The Spokane Chiefs didn’t Friday night at the Arena, allowing Lethbridge to escape town with its first win in Spokane since February 12, 2003 – this one a 5-3 victory.
The Hurricanes, who blanked Spokane 5-0 in their only meeting last year in Lethbridge, came into the game as the defending Western Hockey League Central Division champions, but the veteran club was missing several of its better players when it took the ice.
“They’re a good club, but they were down some of their better players,” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. “We wasted an opportunity.”
“Wasted” may be the only word to accurately describe this loss.
Spokane was booked for six first-period penalties, including three by Riley McKay (twice for tripping, once for roughing) and a double-minor penalty by Keanu Yamamoto late in the period. The Hurricanes capitalized with three power-play goals, including two while Yamamoto was in the penalty box.
Yamamoto’s penalty came during a battle for the puck along the boards in Spokane’s defensive zone, with the team already playing a man short after getting caught with too many men on the ice during a shift change.
Already down 1-0 after Tyler Wong made the Chiefs pay for McKay’s first penalty, the Lethbridge winger scored again to make it 2-0 just 17 seconds after Yamamoto stepped into the penalty box.
The Lethbridge goal erased one of Yamamoto’s minor penalties, but Spokane remained short-handed. Wong eased a crisp pass in front of the Spokane net to find Giorgio Estephan for the third goal of the period.
Pavel Kousal scored his first goal in a Spokane sweater with the Chiefs a man down in the final minute of the period.
Spokane came out strongly in the second period but made a pair of costly mistakes that dug the team deeper into a hole.
A bad pass in the Chiefs’ defensive zone led to Egor Babenko’s unassisted goal to make it 4-1 early into the period.
After Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored to halve the lead, the Chiefs made a sloppy pass out of their defensive zone. Calen Addison fired a wrist shot from outside the Spokane blue line at Jayden Sittler that the keeper stopped with his chest, but the puck trickled to the ice and bounced between his pads and into the net to make it 5-2.
“We just played sloppy hockey,” Nachbaur said. “We didn’t compete. I don’t mean that personally, but as a team we did not compete. We made sloppy plays when we know better. We’re not buying into what we’re doing and that comes from within.”
Chiefs trade Berlin
The Chiefs announced that they traded the playing right for goaltender Matt Berlin to the Seattle Thunderbirds for a conditional pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
Berlin appeared in seven games over two seasons with the Chiefs, posting a record of 1-1-2-0.
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