The Spokane Chiefs’ offense picked up right where it left off, getting goals from five players in a 5-3 win over the Kootenay Ice Saturday at the Arena.
Kailer Yamamoto had a goal and two assists, while linemate Jaret Anderson-Dolan had three assists. Milos Fafrak and Jake McGrew both had a goal and an assist.
It wasn’t the nine-goal barrage like fans saw Friday night, but it looked similar. The Chiefs peppered Kootenay goaltender Matt Berlin with 37 shots.
“We’re getting good bounces right now and capitalizing on opportunities,” Anderson-Dolan said. “We’re doing what we’ve been doing for a while now and we’re getting better and consistent.”
It was the second night in a row Anderson-Dolan had three assists. He’s making plays for his linemates – Yamamoto and Ethan McIndoe.
“Kailer and (McIndoe) are getting open and a couple of (the assists) were off rebounds,” Anderson-Dolan said. “For me, I’m kind of a shooter so I think when everybody knows that it draws guys to me and other guys open up.”
Fafrak scored his second goal in two nights and his eighth of the season to open the scoring at 4 minutes, 55 seconds of the first period.
Gilian Kohler tied the game at 1 on the power play at the 9:10 mark of the first period. Hudson Elynuik was in the box for Spokane after taking a cross-checking penalty.
The Chiefs then got first-period goals from McIndoe and Yamamoto, the latter shorthanded.
Colton Veloso scored for Kootenay at the 2:10 mark of the second period to bring the Ice within one. But McGrew scored from the top of the circle at 8:25 to extend Spokane’s lead.
Ty Smith scored his 13th of the season in the third period, and Veloso got a late goal to make it 5-3.
Dawson Weatherill made 13 saves in the win, while facing only 16 shots.
“We didn’t give (Kootenay) a whole lot,” Chiefs coach Dan Lambert said. “The game was probably closer on the scoreboard than it was, I thought. (Kootenay) worked and pushed but we only gave them 16 shots and defensively we did a pretty good job.”
It was a more physical game than what the Chiefs are used to, but that didn’t harm Spokane in any way. The Chiefs threw their bodies around as much as Kootenay, and Riley McKay provided two huge hits in his first night playing without a full face shield in a while.
“They’re a competitive team,” Lambert said of the Ice. “If you take them lightly, they’re going to bite you.”
With the win, the Chiefs kept pace with the Portland Winterhawks in the U.S. Division. Portland also won Saturday and still holds a three-point lead over Spokane. The Chiefs are three points ahead of fourth-place Tri-City.
The Chiefs’ schedule doesn’t get any easier in the season’s last 11 games. The Chiefs’ next six are on the road, including tonight’s game at U.S. Division-leading Everett.
The four points gained Friday and Saturday night are crucial as the playoffs loom.
“We’ve been saying this for probably a month now, but we’re in a situation where we have to win our games,” Lambert said. “We don’t need to worry about other teams. Everett is a team that’s had our number, and they’ve had everyone’s number. It’ll be a real good test for us to try and measure up.”
Anderson-Dolan said the Chiefs just need to keep it simple and get production from all lines, whether it shows up on the score sheet or not.
“The success we’ve had lately comes from everybody contributing,” he said. “Even though our top couple lines are producing a lot, it’s our third and fourth lines that are creating offense, and our defense is getting in on it as well.”
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