It was a different night, but a similar script for the Spokane Chiefs.
One night after playing from behind and running out of gas in the third period against a faster, physical team, the Chiefs had more of the same Saturday at the Arena in a 4-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.
Aliaksei Protas had two goals for Prince Albert, including a first-period shorthanded tally. Ilya Usau and Landon Kosior had the other goals for the Raiders.
Bear Hughes had the lone goal for Spokane.
Campbell Arnold, making his eighth straight start, was pulled 3 minutes, 42 seconds into the third period after allowing two quick goals to open the final frame. Boston Bilous stopped 21 of 22 shots he faced for Prince Albert.
Both teams were scoreless on three power-point opportunities. The only action on special teams was Protas’ first-period shorthanded goal.
“For two periods I thought we played well and then the third period we got away from our game,” Chiefs coach Manny Viveiros said. “We’re fighting in a lot of areas right now and we’re not just staying with our game and (we’re) making costly mistakes.”
Those mistakes included a turnover at their blue line in the first period that led to Protas’ shorthanded goal at 18:22 of the first. That goal broke a 1-all tie, and the Raiders never surrendered the lead.
Kosior scored 9:41 into the game and Hughes’ tally came at 12:31 off a nice feed from Luke Toporowski, who was skating behind the net before sliding a pass to Hughes in front. It was the Post Falls native’s fifth goal of the season.
Just like Friday against Portland, the Chiefs entered the third period down a goal. But also like Friday, they surrendered some early goals and never got their footing.
Protas scored his second 3:23 into the third, and Usau scored just 19 seconds later to make it 4-1. That’s when Viveiros pulled Arnold and replaced him with newly acquired Brett Balas.
Viveiros said pulling Arnold had nothing to do with Arnold.
“We put him in some real difficult positions tonight and I was just trying to light a spark under our team,” said. “I just told him it was one of those nights where he never got help in certain situations and (Prince Albert) capitalized.”
Despite Arnold’s tough outing, Viveiros is choosing the positive path, knowing his team has played a lot of hockey lately, and putting a heavy load on a 17-year-old goalie brings a lot of responsibility.
“Campbell does need a couple days to refresh,” Viveiros said. “He’s a young kid, first time playing in the league and we’re throwing him in the fire playing against some good hockey teams. But I’m so excited for how he responds. He has a positive attitude and is one of the hardest workers on the team.”
The Raiders, who were league champions a season ago, didn’t allow the Chiefs a ton of space to maneuver. The Chiefs had 22 shots on net, including just five in the first period and six in the pivotal third.
“There’s a lot of players on that team that were on the championship team,” Viveiros said. “They know how to win and play tight games and on the road. That’s something we’re still learning how to do. It’s taking a little longer than expected, but that happens sometimes.”
The Chiefs also had a hard time keeping possession.
“We just kind of didn’t get the bounces, but we worked pretty hard,” Spokane’s Adam Beckman said. “We had a couple lapses. They’re a pretty physical team and didn’t let us get many shot chances or get to the net, which is how we usually find success.”
The Chiefs will take Sunday off to refresh and get ready for the Prince George Cougars’ visit on Saturday. A reset is exactly what the team needs, Beckman said.
“The reset is the biggest thing. We’ll take some things from the games this week, learn from it and move forward,” he said. “We’ll be ready to go next weekend.”
For Viveiros, the day off allows for some positive reflection.
“The sun always comes up the next day and you’re never as good as you think you are, and you’re never as bad as you think you are,” he said.
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