Spokane loses rare meeting with Swift Current 3-1
Feb. 3, 2023 Updated Fri., Feb. 3, 2023 at 10:37 p.m.
The Spokane Chiefs made it hard on themselves Friday at the Arena, giving Swift Current seven power play opportunities while having trouble finding offense at the other end. The Broncos scored twice on those power plays, and that was the difference as the Chiefs fell 3-1.
Joey Rocha made 24 saves for Swift Current in the win. Spokane’s Cooper Michaluk was a bright spot for the Chiefs, making 29 saves. Michaluk’s only goals against came on two power plays and a two-on-one.
Swift Current scored both power play goals in the first period, and Spokane was doomed from there.
Connor Hvidston opened things up when he scored at 5:44 of the first. Ty Cheveldayoff was in the box for roughing after taking issue with a hit on teammate Berkly Catton.
Then it was 15-year-old Ty Coupland scoring his first career goal in just his second career game. Coupland one-timed a shot just six seconds into a power play at 12:28 of the first to give Swift Current a 2-0 lead. This time it was Kooper Gizowski watching from the penalty box after he took a high-sticking penalty.
Swift Current added to its lead when Brady Birnie put home a rebound on a two-on-one for his 11th of the season at 10:52 of the second.
Tommy De Luca got Spokane’s only goal when he scored on the power play at 14:15 of the third. It was much too late, though, and a Ben Bonni interference penalty almost three minutes later prevented Spokane from having any chance at a miraculous comeback.
“It’s undisciplined play, it’s selfish play and it’s just not working,” Spokane coach Ryan Smith said. “Those (penalties) cost us the game, really. You’re into February when everybody’s fighting for points and when you give teams a little bit of a lead, they’re able to hold on.”
Smith wasn’t happy with most of the penalties, which were mostly avoidable. Cheveldayoff’s penalty occurred when defending Catton, a star player who took a big hit. Saige Weinstein’s (hooking) and Gizowski’s penalties (high sticking) were the result of carelessness.
“Two of three were very avoidable in the first period,” he said. “We have no problem with our guys sticking up for each other when they feel they’ve been wronged. The other two are selfish and just a little bit not working hard enough.”
The Chiefs had a chance in the third to get going when they had a 5-on-3 power play for a minute but couldn’t generate any offense. Spokane even took a timeout to discuss the 5-on-3 opportunity.
“It was massively disappointing. If we score a goal there it changes the complexion of the rest of the period and we get a little momentum,” Smith said. “When you miss those opportunities, it gives the other team momentum. The guys on the ice tried some things, but there was a little bit of miscommunication on what we were trying to accomplish after the timeout. It hurt us for sure.”
Michaluk, who made 41 saves on Sunday in a heartbreaking loss at Portland, shined again and kept Spokane close.
“Cooper was good tonight. He was excellence from the start,” Smith said.
Swift Current won for the first time in five contests after having dropped all of its previous games against U.S. Division foes. The Chiefs have lost for the fifth time in a row.
The Chiefs welcome the Red Deer Rebels to the Arena tonight.
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