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Spokane Chiefs pound Kootenay Ice to erase recent struggles

Jan. 21, 2017 Updated Sat., Jan. 21, 2017 at 11:04 p.m.

Whether it was a lack of rest, practice time, consistency, effort or structure, there were several reasons for the Spokane Chiefs’ recent struggles.

It all came together for Spokane on Saturday against the Kootenay Ice, as the Chiefs’ offense came alive in a 5-2 win.

“We had structure, but our commitment level was at a high and at a premium,” Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur said. “I thought our kids deserved to win the hockey game tonight.”

Nachbaur mentioned he was content with the Chiefs outshooting the Ice 50-24, working hard to generate chances.

“That score could have been broken up a lot sooner than later in the game,” Nachbaur said.

Spokane scored in all three periods, with three coming in the third.

The Chiefs jumped out to a 1-0 lead after Eli Zummack’s power-play goal off a rebound, his fourth of the year.

Spokane was dominant for most of the opening period, outshooting the Ice 20-4.

Kailer Yamamoto recorded the Chiefs’ second goal with 14:04 left in the second period, scoring on an open right side of the net on a feed from Riley Woods.

The Ice cut the deficit to 2-1 early in the third period with Noah Philp’s power-play goal, putting the pressure on the Chiefs for the final stretch.

But the Chiefs responded, and that’s when it got ugly.

With 10:01 remaining in the third period and the Chiefs on the power play, Keanu Yamamoto scored on a rebound to provide Spokane a 3-1 lead.

Ondrej Najman added to that with 5:51 remaining, shooting from the left corner and scoring from an improbable angle. Tyson Helgesen scored his seventh goal of the season with 4:33 remaining on a wrist shot while moving to his left, putting it in the top-right corner and past Kootenay goaltender Jakob Walter.

While the Yamamoto brothers gave Spokane a goal apiece, three players with less than 10 goals this season put one in the back of the night for the Chiefs, something Helgesen hopes to see more of moving forward.

“It was nice to get some secondary scoring tonight, for sure,” Helgesen said. “I think we’ve been kind of lacking with that in the last week or so just not getting secondary scoring, so it’s nice to see guys step up.”

It’s been difficult for the Chiefs to put all facets of the game together recently, but they showed balance against the Ice, according to Nachbaur.

Spokane hopes that continues for key division games at Everett on Sunday and against Seattle at the Arena on Tuesday (which was rescheduled from Jan. 18 because of poor road conditions.

“We care about playing the game right, and tonight, we played the right,” Nachbaur said. “All things considered, we took some huge steps. The key for us is to find consistency and to do it every night.”

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