The Spokane Chiefs came into Wednesday’s game without three top players in Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Ty Smith and Filip Kral – all of whom are with their respective World Junior Championship teams.
Against the Everett Silvertips – the top team in the Western Conference – being down key players isn’t ideal. But don’t tell that to the rest of the team, particularly goaltender Bailey Brkin, who stopped 43 shots in regulation and overtime and two more in the shootout as Spokane won 4-3 to collect two valuable points.
Facing 46 shots isn’t an easy task, but Brkin was up for the challenge.
“I felt comfortable and felt right,” he said.
The three goals Brkin surrendered all came with the Chiefs shorthanded, and the first two were goals the 19-year-old would like back.
“The first two were kind of laughable,” he said. “They’re the kind of ones where you say a few swear words about them, complain to your billets, your parents, your girlfriend if you have one. Besides that, I didn’t really struggle with it a lot. The boys made it easy for me.”
The first bad goal opened the scoring when Connor Dewar struck 10 seconds into a power play. Spokane’s Jack Finley was in the box for hooking and Dewar wasted no time sniping one past Brkin.
The other goal was a weird one. Sahvan Khaira put a shot on net from the point and it hit off Brkin’s glove and into the air to his left. Everett’s Max Patterson did his best baseball move and swatted the puck out of midair for the goal.
The Chiefs took advantage of a parade of Silvertips to the penalty box late in the first period. First, Dawson Butt went off for slashing, and 36 seconds later, Dewar was called for roughing, giving Spokane a 5-on-3 advantage. Four seconds after Dewar’s penalty, Gianni Fairbrother put the puck out of play in his own zone, a delay-of-game penalty.
With the two-man advantage, Luc Smith got the Chiefs on the board with a shot from the slot with 10 seconds left in the period.
The Chiefs spent too much time in their end for large portions of the first period and into the second. The tide began to change just before the midway part of the second.
That’s when Luke Toporowski took a nice behind-the-back pass from Jake McGrew and put one past Everett goaltender Dustin Wolf on the power play at 8:28 of the second. Just 56 seconds later, Adam Beckman tipped in a shot from Tyson Feist to give Spokane the lead.
“I thought there were spurts where we weren’t great and there were other times when we were,” Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert said. “A team like Everett makes you work for everything you get. They make you work for every inch, and I thought we found a way, and that was very important for us to do that.”
Bryce Kindopp scored Everett’s third goal to tie the game at 14:02 of the second.
The teams were scoreless in the third period as well as overtime. In the shootout, Nolan Reid and Jake McGrew each scored for Spokane and Brkin stopped Kindopp and Dewar back-to-back to secure the Chiefs’ first shootout win at home since Jan. 31, 2015.
“Everett is a team that puts a lot of pucks on the net,” Lambert said. “They make it really challenging because they do get bodies at the net, and I thought (Brkin) did a real nice job of finding those shots and tracking the puck. We needed that from him. In the shootout, he looked confident and big, and I thought he did a great job.”