With four wins in their last five games, the Spokane Chiefs may be playing their best hockey of the season.
With the playoffs a little more than a month away, it’s perfect timing.
The Chiefs definitely played some of their best hockey in Friday’s 8-3 win over the Victoria Royals.
“We still have a lot of hockey left but I feel like we’re starting to come together,” head coach Dan Lambert said. “When we think about our team right now, we have a better idea of what we can look like.”
What they looked like Friday was a team with an exploding offense and excellent special teams. The Chiefs scored four power-play goals on eight tries and added a shorthanded goal. The Chiefs boast the league’s top power play.
Ethan McIndoe led the way with two goals and two assists. Defenseman Nolan Reid also had a four-point night, finishing with a goal and three assists. The Chiefs put 49 shots on goal.
Goaltender Bailey Brkin stopped 28 shots in the win.
“I think we still have more in us,” McIndoe said. “I think we’re playing really well right now for the most part. All the guys have been buying in and that’s what we’ve been preaching.”
The teams exploded for six goals in the first period. Connor Gabruch scored his second goal in as many games to get things going 6:21 into the game. Gabruch made a nice move to get around a Victoria defenseman before sniping one past goaltender Griffen Outhouse.
But the Royals answered quickly with two goals in 28 seconds. Mitchell Prowse got the first one after tipping in a shot from Igor Martynov. Then Kaid Oliver scored unassisted before the previous goal’s replay on the video board was over to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan put home a rebound to tie the game at the 13:47 mark of the first. It was his 100th career Western Hockey League goal. Kody McDonald scored his power play goal at 16:33 of the first.
Luc Smith rounded out the scoring in the wild first period to tie the game heading into the first intermission. The Chiefs nearly took a 4-3 lead into the intermission, but Adam Beckman’s goal came just after the horn sounded.
McIndoe scored the only goal of the second period to give Spokane a 4-3 lead.
The game turned early in the third when Victoria’s Carson Miller looked to have scored to tie the game at 4. The officials took their time reviewing the goal and determined Miller kicked the puck in and waved off what would have been the tying goal.
A couple of minutes later, Jake McGrew scored on the power play to give Spokane a 5-3 lead. McIndoe got his second of the game and his 12th of the season almost 3 minutes later to open the floodgates.
“That was huge. A 4-4 game could go either way,” Lambert said.
Reid and Luke Toporowski rounded out the scoring for the Chiefs.
McIndoe is tasked with playing in the dirty areas and camping out in front of the net. It’s not the most glamorous role, but it’s one he’s embraced and it’s paying off.
“Not very many guys in the game do that nowadays and it’s something I’ve always taken pride in,” he said. “Ever since I started playing hockey, it’s kind of been what I’ve done. It’s one way to stand out and be different and I’m at the top of my game and having success.”
The Chiefs have a quick turnaround and host the Kootenay Ice Saturday night at the Arena.
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