As the second period ticked closer to the third, and still the Spokane Chiefs sat on one goal, just as they had the night before, they found their scoring touch – in rapid succession.
The Chiefs scored three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 19 seconds, to break open a tie game, one the Chiefs went on to win 6-1 over the visiting Victoria Royals on Saturday night, ending a two-game losing streak.
“I think we just came ready to play tonight,” said Spokane forward Cordel Larson. “Our start was pretty slow (Friday), so we focused on having a better start, coming out playing the body more, playing to our strengths, using our speed, getting in on the forecheck.”
Goals by Spokane’s Filip Kral and Victoria’s Sean Gulka had the game knotted at 1 midway through the second period. The Chiefs controlled possession but struggled to consistently get passes through Victoria’s defense.
But then, on a rebound from Owen MacNeil’s hard shot from the right side, Brandon Reller charged the net and got enough of the puck to break the tie with just less than 3 minutes until the third period.
Yet the Chiefs weren’t done.
Less than 2 minutes later, Adam Beckman found a loose puck in the slot, zipped it into the net and pumped his fist as the horn blared for his third goal of the season.
And then, just 26 seconds later, 17-year-old Reed Jacobson took a Kral pass in stride at the left circle’s edge and scored his first Western Hockey League goal.
Suddenly, the Chiefs were landing passes. Their lead was 4-1, 31 seconds before the end of the second period.
“Every time you get a goal it gives the team confidence, and you start having one shift after another where every line is carrying that momentum,” Larson said. “We just kinda ride it out, and the pucks went in for us today.”
On Friday, the Chiefs put 45 shots on net but just one got in, and they lost 3-1 to Prince George.
On Saturday, they were still without their leading scorer, Jake McGrew, but on top of that Luke Toporowski and Connor Gabruch – both of whom, coach Manny Viveiros said, will be back in the lineup next weekend at Prince George – were healthy scratches.
Viveiros opted instead to suit up seven defensemen and 11 forwards, rotating pairs in the back and cycling in a winger alongside the duo of 16-year-olds, MacNeil and Reller.
Playing again on the top line with Beckman and Eli Zummack, Larson scored his first goal of the season, 40 seconds into the third period. Defenseman Bobby Russell later added another goal, his second in as many nights.
That rounded out a night when six Chiefs scored, 10 of their 18 skaters recorded a point, and none of them was team captain Ty Smith – just the kind of scoring depth Viveiros said the team needed.
“I don’t think there was anybody on the whole roster who didn’t play well tonight,” Viveiros said.
The Chiefs (4-3-1) had 23 more shots on goal than the Royals (2-4-1), while Larson, Beckman and Kral each finished with a goal and two assists.
“If we can have all four lines producing like that,” Larson said, “we’re a really tough team to play against.”
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