For almost 55 minutes Friday night, the Spokane Chiefs were out of sorts. Sloppy passes and miscommunication ruled the night.
But goals by Luke Toporowski with 5 minutes, 24 seconds to play and Luc Smith with 27 seconds left forced overtime.
But it still wasn’t enough. After a scoreless overtime, Kelowna prevailed in a shootout to hand the Chiefs a 4-3 Western Hockey League loss.
Lassi Thomson and Nolan Foote scored in the shootout, while Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Adam Beckman each missed. The loss was Spokane’s third straight.
The Tri-City Americans were 4-2 winners over the Portland Winterhawks on Friday and are two points ahead for third place in the U.S. Division. The Chiefs have one game in hand.
Bonners Ferry native and Kelowna goaltender James Porter made 40 saves in the win. Bailey Brkin stopped 27 for Spokane.
The Chiefs will regret a costly second period when they took three penalties and gave up two power-play goals.
Jake McGrew and Ty Smith took high-sticking penalties 34 seconds apart to hand Kelowna an extended 5-on-3 power play. The Rockets cashed in 35 seconds into the two-man advantage when Foote sniped a one-timer past Brkin.
Alex Swetlikoff extended Kelowna’s lead to 3-1 at 17:58 of the second. Swetlikoff’s goal came with Bobby Russell in the penalty box.
The second-period penalties came after the Chiefs outshot Kelowna 20-10 in the first period.
“When your PK hasn’t been great, and on the 5-on-3, we weren’t asking for favors,” Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert said. “We had a good push in the third and found a way to get a point, so that was good to see. But I would have liked to see our battle be the same as it was in the first.”
Leif Mattson got Kelowna on the board 5:26 into the game when he made a nice move on Brkin on a 2-on-1. Riley Woods tied the game on the power play after taking a nice pass across the crease from Eli Zummack.
The Chiefs followed up their nightmare second period with more lackluster play in the third. With Kelowna content to play it safe, the Chiefs broke through when Toporowski tipped in a Nolan Reid shot from the point to get the Chiefs within one.
Then, with Brkin on the bench and an extra attack on the ice, Luc Smith camped out in front of Porter and pushed in a pass from Woods to tie the game with 27 seconds left.
“We kept getting pucks to the net and eventually they’ll go in,” Woods said. “I think we had a pretty strong third period and it rewarded us a little.”
The 3-on-3 overtime yielded no goals but a handful of chances for the Chiefs. McGrew darted in the zone on a partial breakaway, but his shot sailed over Porter and the net. Ty Smith had a couple of good looks as well, but the Kelowna defense was there to get in the way.
“We needed to score on the chances we had,” Woods said. “But that’s the way the game went and we didn’t come out on top.”
The Chiefs have to move past this loss quickly. The Tri-City Americans are in town Saturday night for a crucial U.S. Division matchup.
“Counting (Friday) we have six games in nine days and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Lambert said. “At the end of the day, you just have to come back and play and you have to be sharper and better.”