The Spokane Chiefs had to ice a shorthanded lineup Friday night, and it was clear which team was outmanned. The Tri-City Americans, on the other hand, are still playing for seeding in the WHL’s Western Conference playoff race.
Tri-City used that advantage to skate to a 3-1 win in front of 6,583 fans at the Arena Friday.
The Chiefs were still without injured forward Ty Cheveldayoff and injured defenseman Saige Weinstein. On Friday, they added forwards Cole Wadsworth and Michael Cicek to the shelf for undisclosed reasons.
Despite being light on reinforcements, Spokane head coach Ryan Smith was still pleased with his team’s play and grit.
“I thought our effort was good. We have a couple guys down up front but it gives some extra ice for some guys to audition and show their stuff,” Smith said. “(Tri-City) is a good team. They’re built for the playoffs.”After the teams skated to a scoreless first period, Tyson Greenway got Tri-City on the board 1:06 into the second when he deftly deflected a Lukas Dragicevic shot from the point.
Jalen Luypen added insurance when he pinballed a goal past Spokane goaltender Dawson Cowan, who just seconds earlier robbed Luypen of a goal.
The Chiefs threatened late in the second but couldn’t solve Tri-City goaltender Tomas Suchanek, who made 23 saves and was Tri-City’s only goalie dressed for the game.
But the effort paid off to start the third. Tommy De Luca scored out of a net mouth scramble just 17 seconds into the third to cut into Tri-City’s lead.
But that was all the scoring Spokane could muster, despite 10 shots on goal in the final period. Spokane had its chances, including a Chase Bertholet breakaway late in the third that couldn’t connect.
The Chiefs will also lament a powerless power play, as Spokane went scoreless on five power play chances.
Jordan Gavin padded Tri-City’s lead when he put home a rebound at 17:38 of the third.
Dawson Cowan made 21 saves for Spokane and kept the Chiefs in the game.
Smith didn’t dwell on the fact that his team only had three full lines plus just one more forward.
“It’s fine. You play three lines and just put that tenth forward in with the one line and just rotate a couple guys in and out,” he said. “It’s all you can do. You don’t mix up the lines completely. It’s the same three lines and there’s four guys on one line.”
Cheveldayoff is listed as being out indefinitely, while Weinstein is week-to-week. Smith couldn’t’ say whether Wadsworth or Cicek would be back this weekend as Spokane plays three games in three nights, including tonight in Tri-City.
“We’ll go with the guys who are ready. I thought the battle was good tonight though,” he said. “We battled hard up right to the end and we’ll do the same (Saturday) night.”
The Chiefs wrap up the weekend with a home game Sunday against the Everett Silvertips.