For the first half of Friday’s first period between the Spokane Chiefs and the Medicine Hat Tigers, one team on the ice looked like it just got off the bus from a long, 500-mile road trip.
And it wasn’t the visiting team.
The Chiefs had a sluggish start and couldn’t get a shot on net until 6 minutes, 3 seconds into the game. By then, the Tigers had already taken a 1-0 lead. By the time the Chiefs got their skates under them, it was too late. Despite some a clutch goal late, the Tigers prevailed 3-2 in a shootout.
“We weren’t ready to go the first 10 minutes,” Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert said. “We just stood around and watched them. The message was they’re going to come after us.”
The Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak. Goaltender Mads Sogaard made 39 saves, including all three in the shootout. Josh Williams was the lone goal scorer in the shootout.
Despite the loss, the Chiefs still picked up one point in the standings and have points in their past four games. It was the second shootout loss in as many games, as the Chiefs lost in a shootout at Vancouver on Sunday.
“Mostly our vets, and me included, we came out pretty flat,” Spokane’s Jake McGrew said. “We need to play a full 60. We’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot if we come out like that. We have to learn from it and come back tomorrow and be ready to go.”
The Chiefs don’t get much time to dwell on the loss. They welcome the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Arena on Saturday night.
Ryan Chyzowski gave Medicine Hat an early lead when he scored on the power play 3:19 into the game. Jeff Faith was in the box for charging after leaving his feet to make a hit along the boards.
Ethan McIndoe scored his first of the season to tie the game at 17:12 of the first period after he put in a rebound from the slot.
The Chiefs nearly took the lead in the second period when Ty Smith put the puck past Sogaard. The officials waved it off, however, determining that Faith made incidental contact with Sogaard.
McGrew took a tripping penalty shortly after the disallowed goal, and Ryan Lockner made him pay when he poked the puck past Chiefs goaltender Baily Brkin on the ensuring power play.
The Chiefs had plenty of opportunities to tie the game in the third period with the Tigers holding a one-goal lead. The Chiefs put 10 shots on net and had two golden opportunities on separate power plays midway through the final frame but couldn’t cash in.
The Chiefs forced OT when Riley Woods, with an extra attacker on the ice, sniped one past Sogaard with 1:05 left.
But neither team could win it in overtime, leading to the shootout.
McGrew and Lambert pointed to the Chiefs’ start as the main item the team needs to fix. The slow start seemed to force the Chiefs to play catch-up the entire game.
“It’s early,” Lambert said. “We’re going to learn as a group, but it’s unacceptable to start like that. The shots were 6-0 and then we started playing our game and things changed. They have a guy in net who didn’t want to give us the game.”
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