Getting guys to the net, creating quality chances and being strong on the forecheck are just a few ways the Spokane Chiefs need to play if they want to win.
All of those features and then some were on display in an impressive 6-1 victory against the Kelowna Rockets on Saturday night at the Arena.
The win was a good ending to a seven-game homestand.
Six players scored for Spokane, with Adam Beckman and Jack Finley each recording a goal and two assists. Defenseman Filip Kral and center Bear Hughes each had a goal and an assist.
Ty Smith had three assists, and goaltender Lukas Parik stopped 22 shots. The Chiefs put 55 shots on Kelowna goalie Cole Schwebius.
The offensive output was a carryover from Friday’s game, a 4-3 loss to Everett, Chiefs coach Manny Viveiros said.
“We thought we played really well (Friday) night and wanted to bring that momentum into tonight’s game,” he said. “We played really well. We had a lot of jump to our game, competed and went to the net.”
Having six goal scorers helps, and Kral is tied for the team lead with eight. Having a defenseman lead the team in goals is a little unusual, but Viveiros isn’t complaining.
“He shoots the puck so well. He probably has the best wrist shot on our team,” Viveiros said. “He’s such a smart player. He sees everything and has a real knack for it all.”
The Chiefs surrendered the game’s first goal at 5 minutes, 19 seconds of the first when Kelowna’s Mark Liwiski sent a shot over the shoulder of Parik. But that was all Kelowna would muster, as Spokane turned on the heat.
Luke Toporowski scored his fifth of the season when he carried the puck along the left side and skated in on Schwebius before sliding the puck in at 9:44 of the first to tie the score.
Kral scored just 40 seconds into the second period. Kral is also second on the team in points and credits his experience and linemates for his success.
“As an over-ager, I should be one of the better players,” Kral said. “I get to play with (Ty Smith) on the power play and it’s all about the team.”
Finley scored his third of the season on a rebound in front. Bobby Russell and Beckman also scored goals that way, which was a method missing in recent contests.
Hughes tallied his seventh of the season to cap the scoring at 13:09 of the third period.
The game got chippy in the second half of the final period, with multiple players given game misconducts.
The officials had already called five unsportsmanlike penalties until that point, but they piled on more after a near line brawl and a spirited fight between Spokane’s Jordan Chudley and Kelowna’s Ethan Ernst.
The teams combined for 14 misconduct penalties and Spokane finished the game with just 13 players on the bench. The teams also combined for 114 penalty minutes in the final 10 minutes of the second period.
The physicality – regardless of penalties – is something Kral said the team needs.
“It’s great for us because we stand up for each other,” he said. “It’s helpful for the team and good team building.”
The game featured the debut of 20-year-old Baron Thompson, acquired by the Chiefs before Saturday’s game. Thompson, who is 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, played on the third line with Erik Atchison and Michael King. Thompson adds size and a veteran presence to the lineup, and it also allows for some depth.
“He’s a big kid who throws his body around,” Viveiros said. “He’ll help us against teams that might push us around, and he helps us push back sometimes, too.”
The Chiefs ended their seven straight games at home with three wins and seven points in the standings. They head to Portland on Friday.
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