It was a good night for former members of the Kelowna Rockets Saturday at the Arena. Current members of the Rockets? Not so much.
Former Rockets Leif Mattson and James Porter Jr. shined for the Spokane Chiefs in a dominating 6-0 win in front of 7,107 fans.
The 20-year-old Mattson, who started the season with Kelowna before being traded to Spokane, scored two goals in the win. Porter, who played two seasons in Kelowna, made 17 saves to earn his first shutout as a member of the Chiefs. That it came against his former teammates made it that much sweeter.
“It feels really good. About a month ago I came to Spokane and knew we were going to play the Rockets soon,” he said. “I was looking forward to it all month and preparing, working hard every day and to see it pay off feels good.”
Porter admitted he had a few jitters given it was his former team shooting at him, but he settled in nicely and came up with some big saves, including stopping a breakaway and a 2-on-0, both in the second period. Kelowna even had a trailing forward on the 2-on-0, essentially making it a 3-on-0.
The win was the second in as many nights against the Rockets. The Chiefs won Friday in Kelowna, 7-3.
The Chiefs clamped down defensively, holding Kelowna to just 17 shots on the night and only three in the first period. Spokane’s power play came alive as well, as the Chiefs found the net five times on nine chances with the extra man.
The Chiefs had three power-play goals against Kelowna on Friday. Those goals were big for Spokane, as the Chiefs were coming off a recent slump on the man-advantage.
“We’re so streaky on our power play. Either we’re hot or we’re cold,” head coach Manny Viveiros said. “I like it more when we’re hot. We changed our units up a little bit, and it seems to be working so we hope to be going this way for a while.”
The Chiefs dominated in just about every facet of the game. Spokane put 45 shots on Kelowna goaltender Roman Basran.
Mattson’s goals both came in the first period, with his first at 7:12 to open the scoring. Mattson took a feed from Eli Zummack and waited patiently for an opening.
Adam Beckman scored his 36th of the season at 13:02 on the man-advantage to make it 2-0. Mattson’s second goal came at 15:28 on the power play to give Spokane a 3-0 lead it would take into the first intermission.
Ty Smith scored on the power play at 16:09 of the second. Smith’s shot wasn’t exactly a rocket, but Basran was screened and that was all Smith needed for his eighth of the season.
Luke Toporowski scored his 17th of the season just 11 seconds into the third period on a clever play. With Kelowna on the penalty kill, Filip Kral sent the puck the length of the ice hard enough for it to bounce off the end boards and right to Toporowski, who beat everybody into the zone. Toporowski one-timed the puck past a surprised Basran.
Brandon Reller got Spokane’s fifth power-play goal just four seconds into a 5-on-3 in the third period. It was the fourth goal of the season for the fourth-line rookie.
Viveiros was proud of the way both Porter and Mattson performed given the higher stakes they faced playing against their former teammates. The Chiefs are glad to have Mattson in the lineup after Kelowna gave him up for a third-round draft pick in December.
“It’s really gratifying for him, especially because (Kelowna) moved on from him and brought someone else in to replace him,” he said. “We came in and he’s been outstanding for us.”
The Chiefs were playing at home for the first time since Jan. 22 and only returned to Spokane from a long road trip at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
They head back out on the road for a Tuesday night game at Portland before welcoming the Tri-City Americans to the Arena on Saturday.
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