These are the hockey games the Spokane Chiefs need to win.
The Calgary Hitmen entered the Arena on game two of a seven-game Western Conference trip with the Western Hockey League’s fourth-worst record. They left with a 5-1 win over the Chiefs.
Mark Kastelic had a hat trick for Calgary and Hitmen goaltender Carl Stankowski stopped 33 shots in the win. The Chiefs outshot the Hitmen 34-29 but found the net once.
Kastelic scored Calgary’s first three goals and it was his third that really put the Chiefs in a hole.
Adam Beckman scored at 17 minutes, 15 seconds of the second period to get Spokane within 2-1 and give the Chiefs some juice. But the momentum didn’t hold when Kastelic found the net with 24 seconds left in the period.
“It gave them momentum and took a little life out of our team,” Chiefs defenseman Ty Smith said. “I still think we played well in the third. Their goalie played great today and we couldn’t get anything by him.”
It’s not like the Chiefs didn’t have scoring opportunities. Beckman’s goal came off a nice feed from Jack Finley on the power play, and the Chiefs had plenty of other chances, but the 5-foot-9 Stankowski stood tall.
“I thought our traffic was good at the net,” Chiefs coach Dan Lambert said. “I thought a lot of pucks just hit him and he is a good goalie. He covers the bottom part of the net really well and our chances a lot of time were put on the ice, which is not where you’re going to score on him.”
Kastelic’s first two goals were on the power play and were almost mirror images. He set up at the right post and sent a quick shot past Spokane goaltender Dawson Weatherill with little room to spare at the post.
His second power-play goal made it 2-0 at 5:20 of the second when he again set up at the right post, shoved the puck in front of the net and saw it bounce off Smith’s skate and into the net.
“The first one was an unfortunate play and is something I’m sure we’d want back,” Lambert said. “The second one is one of those things where when you put pucks toward the net, good things happen.”
The Chiefs had a sense of urgency in the third period and had 13 shots on net, but couldn’t solve Stankowski.
“He’s really quick and good from side to side,” Smith said of Stankowski. “You have to get pucks above his pads, because he’s good down low as a smaller guy. We didn’t do a good enough job of that, but he did a great job stopping everything.”
Riley Stotts made it 4-1 at 4:22 of the third and added an empty netter with 3 seconds to play.
Each team got two power plays. Calgary converted on both of its opportunities and Spokane’s lone goal was with the man-advantage.
The Chiefs conclude a stretch of three games in as many nights Sunday at Everett.
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