The Spokane Chiefs put more than 40 pucks on net for the second straight night. But also for the second straight night, it wasn’t enough as the Prince George Cougars came away with a 5-3 win in front of 8,310 fans at the Arena.
The loss is Spokane’s seventh in a row.
Chase Wheatcroft paced Prince George with two goals. Riley Heidt had a goal and an assist.
Ty Young made 40 saves for the Cougars. Mason Beaupit made 23 for Spokane.
Trailing 4-3 in the third period, the Chiefs were pressing and getting good looks. But an otherwise innocuous sequence proved costly.
Prince George’s Koehn Ziemmer chased down a puck in the Chiefs end below the goal line and put the puck on net. The puck banked off of Beaupit’s leg and into the net, giving Prince George some insurance that Spokane couldn’t overcome.
“You can’t really fault our effort, we played really well,” Spokane associate coach Stefan Legein said. “We didn’t give them very much. It’s an unfortunate bounce there to give them that fifth goal. We just caught an unlucky bounce and with a young team that’s struggling to score, it’s a daunting task to get two.”
Despite the unlucky bounce, Beaupit was solid throughout, and even made a sprawling pad save on a Prince George 2-on-0 in the second period.
“I don’t fault Beaupit at all. It’s a fluky bounce,” Legein said. “It’s unfortunate but it was a really good complete hockey game.”
After a scoreless first period, Noah Boyko scored for Prince George at 3:45 of the second to open the scoring. Spokane defenseman Saige Weinstein lost his stick on the play, allowing Boyko space to score.
Wheatcroft scored his first goal from the slot at 16:47 of the second to give Prince George a 2-0 lead. Spokane’s Carter Streek answered 24 seconds later to cut Prince George’s lead to 2-1. It was Streek’s first goal of the season.
Riley Heidt scored on a penalty shot—Prince George’s second in as many games—to give the Cougars a 3-1 lead with 56 seconds left in the second.
The Chiefs got back within one when Cade Hayes scored 52 seconds into the third, but Prince George re-gained its two-goal lead when Wheatcroft scored his second of the game at 2:40 of the third.
Tommy De Luca scored his second of the season to get Spokane back within one at 4:11 of the third. Ziemmer’s fluky goal was the dagger.
Legein said his team plays best when the game is close, which wasn’t the case Friday night in a 7-2 loss. Playing close has been an issue during the seven-game skid.
“It’s hard to motivate yourself to have to score three, four goals,” he said. “But when it’s close it keeps them hungry. To their credit through this stretch, they’ve never faltered in their hard work. If we’re close we can always will our way to get some goals and we saw that tonight.”
The Chiefs were playing down a forward for the second straight night. Michael Cicek is out with an upper body injury, and Berkly Catton is with Team Canada Red at the Under-17 Hockey Championships. That forced defenseman Ben Bonni to play on the left wing on the team’s fourth line.
“He did well. I probably missed a couple opportunities to put him out there,” Legein said. “It’s not easy to find out in the morning that you’re going to play a position that you’re not used to.”
The Chiefs will load onto a bus and head to Portland for a matchup with the Winterhawks tonight.
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