The Spokane Chiefs are probably sick of the Everett Silvertips.
Two Chiefs goals with an extra attacker 29 seconds apart late in the third made things interesting, but Everett held on thanks to goaltender Dustin Wolf.
Wolf made 34 saves and the Chiefs didn’t make it easy for him. Campbell Arnold made 22 saves for Spokane. Gage Goncalves had two goals to pace Everett. Adam Beckman finished with a goal and an assist for Spokane.
“We had some really good opportunities and made a couple mistakes that (Everett) capitalized on,” Chiefs head coach Manny Viveiros said, mirroring comments he made in the team’s other two losses to Everett this season. “Their goaltender was real strong tonight. We had some quality chances, but we didn’t score.”
Breakdowns in the Chiefs’ end led to Everett’s first two goals. Both times, the Chiefs left Goncalves wide open with a free shot at Arnold. Goncalves’ first goal came on the power play, while his second was at even strength.
“Those were just missed assignments,” Viveiros said. “We have spots in our D-zone and you’re supposed to stop in those spots. You can’t play defense on the move. If you move, they’re going to get inside your coverage, and that was an issue for us tonight.”
Filip Kral scored between each goal after he made a nice play to keep the puck along the blue line and find a lane at which to shoot. It was Kral’s seventh goal of the season, tied for the team lead.
Everett plugged Spokane into its end for much of the first period and was the more physical team.
The Chiefs came out hot in the second period and were noticeably more aggressive.
That could have been the result of a Luke Toporowski-Wyatte Wylie dust-up at the conclusion on the first period, as well as Everett’s Justyn Gurney earning himself a game misconduct for his role in the tussle.
“When things are going that way, we don’t want to change our game,” Beckman said. “Even tonight, things got away from us, but we stuck to our game plan and I think that says a lot about our structure.”
The Chiefs outshot Everett 10-7 in the second, but a Conrad Mitchell goal for Everett on the rush at 15:36 was a back breaker. The Chiefs seemed to lose some air in their sails after Mitchell’s goal.
Jackson Berezowski scored Everett’s second power-play goal at 3:18 of the third.
Down 4-1, Viveiros called timeout late in the third and pulled Arnold to give Spokane an extra attacker with 2:39 to play. It worked, as the Chiefs got quick goals by Beckman and Eli Zummack to make it a one-goal game.
“I just said that even though it’s 4-1, one thing we don’t do is pack it in,” Viveiros said. “We may learn more from that than the outcome of the game. I was very happy that the group kept going and we had a pushback. You never know in this game. Things can happen.”
The Chiefs continued to pressure the Everett defense in the waning moments but could not tie the game, despite outshooting the Silvertips 37-26.
“For me, that was very positive. Our club could have easily folded,” Viveiros said.
For all the positive takeaways, there are still things to improve. The Chiefs allowed two power-play goals and scored on just 1 of 5 power-play opportunities.
Special teams will need to play better starting Saturday when the Kelowna Rockets come to town for Spokane’s seventh consecutive home game.
“It wasn’t a very negative game tonight, I don’t think,” Beckman said. “Things did work for us toward the end of the game, and if we can bring that effort (tonight) I think that will go a long way.”
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