Jack Finley has been on a tear lately.
The 17-year-old, who should be a second- or third-round selection at this summer’s NHL draft, scored two goals Saturday night, giving him seven goals in his past five games as Spokane cruised to a 6-0 victory against the Tri-City Americans in front of 9,650 fans at the Arena.
James Porter Jr. made 25 saves to snag his second straight shutout. The Chiefs peppered Tri-City’s Talyn Boyko with 44 shots and got goals from five different skaters.
Finley’s hot hand started on Jan. 31 in his hometown of Kelowna, British Columbia, when he scored twice in a Chiefs win. Finley had a goal and three assists on Feb. 4 at Portland, including the overtime winner. This production is coming on the heels of Finley’s five prior games in which he had just one point – an assist.
“After Christmas I had a couple good games but then I went on kind of a slump,” Finley said. “I started watching my (video) clips to see where I needed to be better. I think my offensive game has been better because I’m shooting the puck and my line with (Adam) Beckman and (Cordel) Larson, we’re starting to click.”
After a lackluster first period in which the Chiefs allowed Tri-City to control possession, the Chiefs erupted for four goals in the second.
“We were sleeping a little bit that first period. Tri-City came in and played real hard and we just didn’t match their intensity,” Chiefs coach Manny Viveiros said. “I though the last six minutes of the first we started to get going and got our legs. Then the second and third periods were really good.”
The Chiefs outshot Tri-city 20-2 in the second period and hardly let up.
Finley opened things up with a wrist shot past Boyko just 53 seconds into the period. Finley found himself alone in the slot after his teammates went to the bench for a line change.
Then 1:20 later and seven seconds into a power play, Larson sent a wobbler that Finley helped across the goal line.
“It was going in and I just whacked it out of mid-air, so I’ll take it,” he said.
Brandon Reller scored his fifth of the season at 9:48 after taking a feed from Bear Hughes, who was behind the net after he forced Boyko down and out of position.
It was the second goal in as many games for the 16-year-old rookie. Viveiros said Reller and his fellow rookies are adapting well to the Western Hockey League. With the comfortable lead, Viveiros was able to use all four lines and give his rookies some more ice time.
“Those 16-year-olds, it’s the hardest year of their junior hockey careers,” Viveiros said. “Everything is so new and you want them to understand what it takes to play in this league and how you mature. You ask them to mature real quick, and that’s what you want from all of them. They’ve done a great job of that this year.”
Luke Toporowski scored his 18th of the season on a delayed penalty from the side of the net at 11:44 of the second.
The third period went much like the second. The Chiefs controlled the pace and kept Boyko under pressure. Beckman scored a power-play goal at 7:36 thanks to a nice screen in front by Finley. Ty Smith sent a shot from the point past Boyko at 10:28.
Tri-City never really tested Porter too much, but he did weather a few storms and is a good understudy to Lukas Parik, who was the first off the bench to congratulate Porter after the final horn.
“I’m really happy for him. I just love the elation in the players being excited for him,” Viveiros said. “He’s really earned it.”
The Chiefs have scored 26 goals in their past four games. They welcome the Everett Silvertips on Sunday for a key U.S. Division showdown. Everett remains nine points ahead of Spokane with two games in hand.
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