The job is simple for the Spokane Chiefs: Score at least four goals and they should come out with a win.
That was the case in all 10 previous times that happened this season, and the Chiefs made it 11 in a row when scoring four or more goals in a 5-1 win over the Saskatoon Blades Wednesday at the Arena.
Defenseman Bobby Russell scored two goals and Adam Beckman and Cordel Larson added a goal and an assist apiece in the win. Goaltender Lukas Parik made 28 saves.
Saskatoon goaltender Nolan Maier stopped 12 of 16 shots put his way before giving way to rookie Koen MacInnes in the third period.
The score doesn’t reflect it, but the Blades outshot Spokane 29-23. That’s largely because of a weird second period that saw Spokane take four straight penalties in the first 10 minutes, 18 seconds before exploding for three quick goals in 2:39.
It started with the Chiefs getting caught with too many men on the ice 54 seconds into the period. They killed that penalty, only to see Michael King take a high-sticking penalty at 4:10.
Just 1 second after King exited the penalty box, Larson played the puck out of play for a delay-of-game penalty. Beckman took a high-sticking penalty at 10:18 and joined the parade to the penalty box.
“You don’t ever want to take that many penalties, because you won’t win many hockey games, but our PK was really good,” Chiefs head coach Manny Viveiros said. “Lukas Parik was really good and we were able to score at the right time. I’m really happy with our effort tonight.”
The Chiefs killed all four penalties and turned the tide the second half of the period with the three quick goals.
Bobby Russell was first when he scored from the point at 15:37 of the second. It was Russell’s second goal of the game after he scored in the first period after going coast to coast. Parik even had an assist on Russell’s opening goal.
Bear Hughes then put a rebound past Maier at 17:13, and Larson did the same just more than 1 minute later.
Beckman added an empty-net goal at 11:21 with Saskatoon in desperation mode. Tristen Robins ruined Parik’s shutout attempt with a goal off a rebound at 14:14.
Russell’s first goal came on the power play and the 19-year-old used the space Saskatoon gave him.
“I saw our two guys on the breakout were covered, so I didn’t really have much of an option to pass,” Russell said. “I decided to just go with it and luckily I ended up with a breakaway and put it in the net.”
Viveiros said he encourages his defensemen to get involved in the offense and carry the puck to the net if a lane is open.
“The way the game is played, you have to have your defensemen able to join the rush,” he said. “You can lead the rush at times, too, but we want them active all the time. You want them getting up into plays as much as possible.”
The Chiefs were without Ty Smith, who is listed on the injury report as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Smith’s absence allowed guys like Russell to step up.
“I see it as an opportunity to play a few more minutes and help the boys win,” Russell said.
The Chiefs held Saskatoon scoreless on six power-play opportunities.
The Chiefs have won four of their last five games. The win moves Spokane to 11-8-2 on the season and into third place in the U.S. Division. Spokane moved past idle Tri-City.
The Chiefs are back at the Arena on Saturday to welcome to Winnipeg Ice.
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