Getting shutout on Teddy Bear Toss night is never good. For the Spokane Chiefs, though, an awkward and premature bear tossing in the second period prevented the 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Lethbridge Hurricanes from becoming even more uncomfortable.
A game delayed by 20 minutes due to a broken clock only got weirder when some fans, anxious to toss their teddy bears onto the Spokane Arena ice after the first Chiefs goal, got a little too eager when Chase Bertholet just missed on a partial breakaway.
The bears flew anyway, and with Arena staff unable to contain thousands of flying teddy bears coming from the 8,807 fans on hand, the tradition was allowed to continue, despite no actual goal being scored. A silver lining to the whole ordeal was that the fans and Chiefs wouldn’t have to somberly toss the bears at the conclusion of the game.
But the weirdness of Saturday night wasn’t a factor in the outcome, said Spokane head coach Ryan Smith.
“Both teams had the same thing. It was irrelevant,” he said. “It’s teddy bear toss, you know there’s going to be a delay. Having it premature maybe takes a little steam out because you kind of want to celebrate that but I don’t think it affected either team.”
What did affect the outcome was Spokane letting down on the penalty kill with just under six minutes to play. The Chiefs had been a perfect four-for-four on the penalty kill, but the fifth one was a backbreaker when Logan Wormald was left unaccounted for in the slot and put a shot past Spokane goaltender Cooper Michaluk.
The goal made it 2-0 Lethbridge and made a winnable game less so. The Hurricanes added an empty net goal by Brayden Edwards in the game’s final moments to seal the victory.
“We want to have four or fewer (penalties) a night. (Friday) we had three and killed them all off, which was great,” Smith said. “Tonight, once it tipped over that fourth, they got that goal and with that much time left, five minutes or so, you’re really pushing.”
There are penalties that are the result of playing hard and penalties that are the result of playing carelessly. The Chiefs took three high sticking penalties and a too many men on the ice penalty—careless mistakes that hurt.
“We have to be more disciplined. I didn’t like the stick penalties that we took,” Smith said.
Noah Chadwick had Lethbridge’s first goal at 6:38 of the second.
The Chiefs outshot Lethbridge 36-30 but couldn’t generate enough scoring chances. Too many shots were from the perimeter, and the few chances the Chiefs had fell short. Spokane was also scoreless on three power play opportunities.
“Guys aren’t executing. Guys are trying to do their own thing,” Smith said. “With the power play, and offense in general, there has to be some execution. There also has to be some skill involved and right now we’re just struggling and gripping the stick.”
Michaluk stopped 27 shots and kept Spokane alive with timely saves and good puck tracking. Harrison Meneghin stood tall in net for Everett.
The Chiefs are back at the Arena on Tuesday to face the Seattle Thunderbirds.
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