When you outshoot a team by 25 shots, odds are good that you’ll skate off with a win. But the Spokane Chiefs ran into a hot goaltender and made things a little too easy in a 4-1 loss to the Tri-City Americans Saturday at the Arena.
Tomas Suchanek stopped 44 of Spokane’s 45 shots on net for Tri-City, and the Chiefs once again struggled on the power play. The Chiefs penalty kill is worst in the Western Hockey League, and not by a little. The Chiefs allowed Tri-City to score two power play goals.
“Their goalie was quite good. I think they got a couple bounces and it’s just hockey or sports. Sometimes you get a little unlucky,” Spokane head coach Ryan Smith said.
Ethan Ernst paced Tri-City with two goals. Elouann Lemonnier had a goal and an assist. Marc Lajoie had two assists for Tri-City.
Despite the three-goal loss, the Chiefs were close on a number of opportunities. Smith felt his team was awfully close to connecting a few more times.
“We just didn’t connect on the last pass to make the right play,” he said. “We’d have the right look and we missed the net a few times. When (Suchanek) sees things, he’s a good goalie, a World Junior goalie and an NHL-caliber goalie so you need to get in front of him.”
The Chiefs didn’t make Suchanek’s night difficult, either. Shots were either into his chest or with little to no traffic in front. That made for a frustrating night.
“I don’t want to discredit (Suchanek), but I think we could have made it a lot harder on him,” Smith said. “We just need to find a way to bear down on those plays.”
The Chiefs got on the board first thanks to a Raegan Wiles power play goal at 8:21 of the first.
Tri-City’s first two goals were both on the power play, with Adam Mechura striking first and Ernst giving his team the lead at 17:19 of the first.
Spokane put 15 shots on net in the second but came away empty. Tri-City, on the other hand, put up just six but scored two goals. ELemonnier scored at 3:24 of the second and Ernst got his second of the night at 9:55.
After this loss, Smith felt his team played well enough to win and stayed within their game plan.
“I think our structure was good tonight,” Smith said. “(Tri-City) had two power play goals, a ricochet off a leg, and a bit of a break on our guy not coming out of the gate on time. We generated enough offense, we just didn’t finish.”
Spokane was just 1-for-5 on the power play, which was tops in the league coming into the game. Mason Beaupit made 16 saves for Spokane.
The Chiefs have a quick turnaround as they’ll hop on a bus and head to Everett for the team’s first game against the Silvertips tonight.
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