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Spokane Chiefs’ offense continues to sizzle against Kootenay in home-opening win

By Kevin Dudley For The Spokesman-Review

If you like goals, you’ll like when the Spokane Chiefs and Kootenay Ice get together.

At least that’s the trend through two games. The Chiefs found the net six times a night after doing so seven times, as they beat the Ice for the second straight night, 6-3, during their first home game in the Western Hockey League season.

Spokane goaltender Bailey Brkin, getting the start in net in place of Dawson Weatherill, stopped 27 Kootenay shots.

Despite the offensive output, the Chiefs weren’t as consistent as head coach Dan Lambert would have liked. Both teams seemed a little sluggish to start, and the Chiefs’ third period saw them give up three goals.

“I didn’t like our first period, even though we were up 2-0,” Lambert said. “I thought we were lucky to be up 2-0, to be honest with you. The second period was more of how we want to look, and the start of the third I thought we looked OK.”

Riley Woods finished with two goals and an assist, giving him five points in three games to start the season. Jake McGrew had a goal and an assist and lost some teeth in the process.

Second-year forward Carter Chorney got things started just 3 minutes, 37 seconds into the game when he scored his first of the season. Defenseman Bobby Russell made it 2-0 from the point at 17:45 of the first. It was Russell’s first goal of the season and his first as a member of the Chiefs.

Woods scored his first of the night on a partial breakaway at 7:21 of the second. Woods used his speed to outrace a Kootenay defender to the puck and flipped it past Kootenay goaltender Jesse Makaj as he was tripped.

“I saw the puck come loose in the middle of the ice and sprinted up through the neutral zone,” Woods said. “I held the guy off and went forehand-backhand and tucked it in.”

Jeff Faith redirected an Adam Beckman shot past Makaj at 10:40 of the second for his first of the season. Woods scored his second of the night on the power play at the 15:11 mark of the second period.

McGrew kept the floodgates open when he scored off a nice feed from Luke Toporowski 42 seconds into the third period.

Kootenay’s first two goals came 17 seconds apart. First, Peyton Krebs scoring on a partial breakaway. Davis Murray made it 6-2 and scored again at 13:16 of the third to get within three goals.

The third period wasn’t one the Chiefs will want to repeat against other teams in the Western Hockey League, but they comfortably came out on top.

“(Kootenay) got one and there was a little bit of panic that set into our game,” Lambert said. “I think some of it is youth and some of it is just not wanting to make mistakes, but at the end of the day it was a win.”

The Chiefs iced five rookies in front of 7,405 in attendance.

Woods’ hot start is something the team is counting on. He’s one of three 20-year-old players on the team and will be leaned on to produce.

“Your 20-year-olds have to be good players in this league and Woodsy is one of those guys,” Lambert said. “He has real good skills, and when he gets opportunities he puts them in.

The Chiefs have no time to rest as they hopped on a bus soon after the win and are headed to Langley, British Columbia, to face the Vancouver Giants Sunday night.

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