A game of missed passes and disorganized defense caught up to the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday as the Victoria Royals came to town and beat the Chiefs 4-1.
The loss was particularly difficult as it came to the same team that eliminated the Chiefs (1-3-0-0, 2 points) from the first round of the playoffs last season.
“It’s early in the year. We are not firing on all cylinders,” coach Don Nachbaur said. “It’s pretty apparent that we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Chiefs came out a bit flat and the Victoria Royals (3-4-0-0, 6 points) took advantage by camping out on the Spokane side of the ice. However, the defense held and Spokane finally started getting some offensive chances and actually led early on shots on goal.
Spokane killed two penalties and failed to get anything going on one power play opportunity.
Both teams battled without anything to show for it until the 18:12 mark of the first period when Victoria’s Jared Dmytriw waited until Spokane goalie Dawson Weatherill cleared and then slow raked the puck into the net for the game’s first goal.
The period ended with Tyson Helgesen dropping gloves with Marsel Ibragimov. Minors were also called Evan Fiala for roughing and cross checking and on the Royals’ Chaz Reddekopp for roughing.
As a result, the Chiefs opened the second period defending a Victoria power play, which it did.
But at the 4:12 mark, the Royals’ Tyler Soy caught the puck in front of the Spokane net. He caught
Weatherill flat footed and Soy went top shelf to make it 2-0.
“We are not overly competitive enough, whether it’s scoring or defending,” Nachbaur said.
Things appeared to be going Spokane’s way late in the period when the Royal’s recieved two minors in quick succession and faced a five-on-three situation. Kailer Yamamoto missed a shot on an open net and the Chiefs failed to put together much of a threat and the Royals survived unscathed.
The Chiefs opened the third period with more missed passes and lack of a cohesive defense. But within a few minutes, Spokane found energy and began attacking the Victoria net.
Hudson Elynuik just missed a shot before hurdling the Royals’ goalie, Griffen Outhouse. Kailer Yamamoto just missed a shot and then defenseman Ty Smith got the puck and slammed a long-distance puck past Outhouse at the 6:22 mark to make it 2-1.
“I got a good look at the net,” Smith said. “I was fortunate to get a lucky bounce.”
Assists were awarded on the play to Ondrej Najman and Keanu Yamamoto on Smith’s first-ever goal as a Chief.
Chiefs then got a power play and with only 20 seconds remaining, the puck came free in front of Outhouse, but the Chiefs couldn’t punch it home.
Then with 5:16 to play, Matthew Phillips got the puck past Weatherill to make it 3-1 Royals. Soy added an empty-netter with under a minute to play to complete the scoring.
“It’s disappointing,” said Smith, a former No. 1 draft pick. “We had our chances to tie it up. But, we didn’t finish.”
The Chiefs next play Tuesday at the Seattle Thunderbirds.
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