It was a night of firsts for the Spokane Chiefs. The first win in eight games, and the first goals in Chiefs uniforms for Nick McCarry and Logan Cunningham.
On top of that, Raegan Wiles scored twice and helped Spokane to a 5-4 win over the Tri-City Americans. The Chiefs are now two points back of Tri-City in the U.S. Division, as the two teams fight for the last playoff spot.
Mason Beaupit made 20 saves in the win.
The Chiefs earned this one. Head coach Adam Maglio has worked with his team all season to learn how to play with a lead, and the Chiefs were able to withstand some Tri-City comeback attempts.
“I thought we played a winning style game tonight and our puck management was very good,” Maglio said. “I thought all four forward lines were good. All the D was going and Beaupit was great in net. A solid team effort.”
The win was much needed, as Spokane had been outscored 43-9 during its seven-game skid.
McCarry’s goal opened things up at 16:49 of the first when he took a pass across the goal mouth from Mac Gross.
“(Gross) made a nice play there. He threw it back door and I was fortunate to have it land on my stick,” he said.
The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission and outshot Tri-City 13-6 in the first frame—one of Spokane’s best periods of the season.
Ethan Ernst tied it for Tri-City at 2:15 of the second. Cunningham scored his goal—his first career goal, too—at 4:32 to regain the lead. Wiles gave Spokane a two-goal lead when he scored from the point at 17:27. Wiles’ goal came with the teams skating four-on-four.
Petr Moravec got one back for Tri-City at 18:55 of the second. Tri-City tied it at three when Samuel Huo scored from the slot at 5:40 of the third.
Chase Bertholet helped Spokane regain the lead at 6:43 when he poked in a shot past Tri-City goaltender Tomas Suchanek. Wiles scored his second of the game just 31 seconds later to give Spokane some insurance. It was a highlight reel goal as Wiles took a nice pass from Erik Atchison and skated down the slot to get it past Suchanek.
“I thought tonight was his best game of the year,” Maglio said of Wiles. “It was one he needed. Lately he’s needed a bit of confidence. A great shot and then a great dive in and move on the goalie. It’s really nice to see.”
Huo scored his second of the game at 12:21 to get Tri-City back within one. Tri-City pulled its goaltender late but never threatened, as Spokane got the win over its in-state rival.
McCarry, acquired at the trade deadline in a deal that sent Luke Toporowksi to Kamloops, is slotted in on Spokane’s top line with Bear Hughes and Bertholet. He’s glad to get his first goal as a Chief.
“It’s been a little bit here. Goals don’t come often in this league,” he said. “You have to be thankful for every one you get so now I just hope to keep it going.”
Maglio is glad to have McCarry in the lineup and is leaning on his veteran leadership.
“He leads by example on and off the ice,” he said. “He’s a character kid and an extremely hard worker on the ice. He’s very smart and makes players better around him. He’s been very good for us.”
The Chiefs are back at the Arena Feb. 2 when they host the Prince George Cougars.