The Spokane Chiefs are having trouble scoring early in the truncated 2021 Western Hockey League season.
Getting scoring chances isn’t as big of a problem, but capitalizing on them definitely is. The trend continued in Spokane’s 3-0 loss Saturday night in Kennewick against the Tri-City Americans. That’s two consecutive shutout losses for Spokane and three shutout losses in five games .
Samuel Huo scored twice for Tri-City and Talyn Boyko stopped all 26 Spokane shots for his first WHL career shutout. Spokane had six power-play opportunities, including a 4-minute man-advantage late in the third period, but couldn’t find the net.
Spokane had two power plays in the first period and dominated zone time during both. The Chiefs still couldn’t muster any goals.
Those initial missed chances caught up to Spokane when Tri-City’s Connor Bouchard broke the scoreless tie 6:47 into the second period to put the Amerks on the board. Bouchard avoided a hit by a Spokane defenseman and beat Spokane goaltender Mason Beaupit all alone in front.
Tri-City controlled play in the second period, outshooting Spokane 12-4 .
The Chiefs came out strongly in the third period. Blake Swetlikoff had a great chance alone in front, but Boyko stoned him. The missed shot really bit Spokane when, just about 40 seconds later, Huo gave Tri-City a 2-0 lead.
Huo took a cross-ice feed from Sasha Mutala after Mutala stole the puck from Spokane defenseman Chase Friedt-Mohr at the blue line.
Mutala, an NHL draft pick and fourth-year WHL player, stripped rookie Friedt-Mohr and had plenty of space to find Huo.
The goal seemed to take the wind out of Spokane’s sails. The Chiefs got some late chances, though.
Eli Zummack was stopped shorthanded on a 2-on-1. Swetlikoff had a nice chance from the slot shorthanded that didn’t find the net.
Then the Chiefs got a 4-minute power play after Tri-City’s Marc Lajoie high-sticked Brandon Reller and drew blood.
Boyko again stood tall, and Tri-City had the best scoring chance of the 4 minutes on a breakaway.
Spokane got one more power play with 2:41 to play and pulled Beaupit to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. Tri-City didn’t make it easy to get shots through and Huo scored his second of the night into the empty net just after the penalty expired.
The Chiefs were still without Jack Finley, who remains listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Chiefs could use Finley back in the lineup to give the m a scoring punch. Spokane is using many young players this season, a result of losing Luke Toporowksi and Bear Hughes to the United States Hockey League.
The Chiefs are back in Kennewick to play Tri-City on Saturday.
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