When a hockey team is outshot by a margin of 15, things usually aren’t going so well.
But hockey is sometimes an unusual game, and the Spokane Chiefs proved that Friday night in a 3-1 Western Hockey League win over the Portland Winterhawks at the Arena.
It was Spokane’s second win in a row after dropping the first seven games of the season. Portland outshot Spokane 36-21, but a near-perfect game in net by 17-year-old Mason Beaupit helped Spokane to the win.
The Chiefs’ penalty kill also came up big, keeping Portland off the scoresheet on all five chances.
The defensive effort was exactly what head coach Adam Maglio was looking for.
“That needs to be our M.O. here. I thought the penalty kill was really good, our goaltending was good,” he said. “I thought 5-on-5, we defended hard, we were smart and above the puck all game. A lot of good things to take away from tonight.”
Beaupit’s only miscue was taking a poor angle on a routine shot from Mason Mannek . That gave Portland a 1-0 lead 6:31 into the game, but Beaupit didn’t let it affect him.
“After it went in, there was nothing I could really do,” he said. “You can’t go back in time and get rid of it, so why waste your energy on it? I just kind of moved forward in the game and knew we still had a chance to come back because it was very early in the game.”
And the Chiefs did come back while stymieing the Winterhawks along the way.
Bobby Russell tied the game just 39 seconds into the second period with his second goal in as many games. Russell was exiting the penalty box after taking a cross-checking penalty late in the first period.
As Russell skated out onto the ice, the puck found its way to him and he skated in on a breakaway to beat Portland goaltender Dante Giannuzzi.
The Chiefs took the lead for good when Adam Beckman scored at 3:14 of the second period on Spokane’s only power-play opportunity. It was Beckman’s team-leading fifth goal of the season.
The Chiefs had to kill three more penalties and proved to be up to the task.
“(Beaupit) absorbed a lot of pucks,” Maglio said of the penalty-kill success. “There weren’t a ton of second or third opportunities when (shots) did get through. It was also a lot of blocks. I think our guys paid the price on the kill and got in lanes. That’s what you need.”
The Chiefs played with 11 forwards, one short of a full lineup. That forced Maglio to balance the lines to preserve some energy and make sure nobody got caught on the ice in a mismatch with Portland’s lineup.
“I try to get everyone as involved as we can,” he said. “With the special teams, it becomes a little challenging. Our number of kills tonight and a power play, it’s a rotation. We try and keep a couple lines together and then rotate six guys.”
The teams meet again Saturday at the Arena.
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