Momentum is a funny thing in hockey. On Saturday at the Arena, the Spokane Chiefs should have had all of it.
They were coming off a three-goal third period in Friday’s win over Kelowna and got on the board against visiting Everett within the first 70 seconds of the game.
But that momentum proved to be fleeting, as every time the Chiefs did something well, the Silvertips responded in double doses.
Everett’s Niko Tsakumis scored the go-ahead goal early in the second period, and the Chiefs never mustered a comeback in a 6-2 loss.
“We had a great start,” Chiefs coach Ryan Smith said. “(Everett) is a hardworking team. They don’t let you breathe out there. They’re all over you. We talked about that before the game. We talked about that this morning, and it’s still like we were caught off guard and you can’t be like that against this team.”
Barely a minute into the game, Chase Harrington and Ty Cheveldayoff entered the zone on a 2-on-1. Harrington carried down the right wing and never gave up the puck, duping the defender and beating Ethan Chadwick glove side for his first WHL goal.
“I just kind of tried to make the goalie think that I was gonna pass it, then shoot it,” Harrington said. “Everyone’s super happy for me and it’s pretty cool.”
“He picked the puck off in our own end, skated, looked off the pass and went right up top over the goalie,” Smith said. “It was a great shot, a great goal and a very exciting moment for (Harrington).”
But Everett (7-5-1-0) answered a couple of minutes later. Carter Bear leveled a Chiefs defender along the sidewall and tipped the puck to Beau Courtney, who carried it to the slot and fired a wrist shot past Dawson Cowan (36 saves) to even it.
“They play a hard-nosed game, very simple – put it in, go to work, finish checks,” Smith said. “They finished that check, turned the puck over and then 2 seconds later, we’re facing off at center. They were more physical team. They were the harder team, man for man.”
The Silvertips made it 2-1 midway through the period. Dominik Rymon circled behind the net and fed an open Eric Jamieson in the slot, who snapped it past Cowan.
The first power play came with 3:15 left in the period as Everett forward Kyan Grouette boarded Carter Streek on a forecheck. The Chiefs (5-5-2-0) made good on it, as Hayden Paupanekis redirected a shot by Harrington from the point for his third goal of the season to tie it after one.
But again, Everett bounced back. The Silvertips snapped the tie 7 minutes into the second period as Tsakumis gathered a puck at the top of the left circle, skated past a defender and beat Cowan stick-side.
Chiefs defenseman Layton Fiest tripped an Everett player behind the Spokane net a few minutes later to put the Chiefs on the kill. It came back to haunt the home team, as Ben Hemmerling’s slap shot from the high slot got through Cowan, and in recovery the goalie kicked it with his heel into the net.
“They got a great look from the middle of the ice,” Smith said. “They get a shot and it bounces around a little bit. Yeah, and it trickles in. And that’s unfortunate for Dawson and for our group.”
Late in the second period and playing at four aside, the Chiefs turned it over in front of Cowan and Tarin Smith had time to gather the puck, settle it on his forehand and flip it past the defenseless goalie to make it 5-2.
“We just leave a guy in front of the net and (the puck) is in the back of the net,” Smith said.
Everett put the clamps on in the third period. Smith’s second goal of the night, a power-play goal with a little more than 5 minutes left, removed any doubt.
“We just need to be able to build off of our goals and our nice plays,” Harrington said. “We just need to do better.”