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Spokane Chiefs

Spokane Chiefs falter badly, lose to Moose Jaw at home 12-3

The Moose Jaw Warriors celebrate one of their 12 goals against the Spokane Chiefs on Feb. 24,2024 at the Spokane Arena.   (Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs)

The Spokane Chiefs have made a lot of progress this season from last and have put themselves in a solid position to earn a playoff spot out of the Western Conference with 12 games to go.

But Saturday’s dismal performance against Moose Jaw, third place in the East, should be a reminder to take nothing for granted.

The Warriors scored four goals before many had a chance to take advantage of “Family Feast Night” at the concession stands, and Moose Jaw beat the Chiefs 12-3 in a Western Hockey League game at the Arena.

Atley Calvert had three goals with two assists, Lynden Lakovic and Pavel McKenzie scored two apiece and Rilen Kovacevic had four assists for Moose Jaw. 

With Tri-City’s win over Regina, the Chiefs (24-27-4-1) are six points ahead of the Americans in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. Spokane trails Kelowna for the seventh spot by three points. 

Moose Jaw (36-19-0-2) got on the board 55 seconds into the game. Calvert and Lakovic entered the zone on a 2-on-0, and Chiefs goalie Cooper Michaluk stopped Calvert, but Lakovic poked the rebound into the net for his 14th goal of the season.

The Warriors made it 2-0 less than 2 minutes later on a redirect by Brayden Schuurman, his 17th goal of the season, and Chiefs coach Ryan Smith called timeout and addressed his team animatedly from behind the bench. it didn’t help. 

McKenzie made it 3-0 midway through the period as he entered the zone one-on-two, deked a defender, and slotted it past Michaluk. Just 46 seconds later, Calvert broke in alone and scored his 39th of the season to make it 4-0.

Moose Jaw outshot Spokane 24-5 in the first period.

It didn’t get any better in the second. Denton Mateychuk scored 59 seconds in, and Martin Rysavy made it 6-0 at 4:19 of the period. Later in the second, Moose Jaw added a short-handed goal by Calvert, and Matthew Savoie scored coming out of the box after his penalty expired.

Spokane’s Berkly Catton scored his team-leading 43rd goal of the season on a power play midway thought the third period when it was 10-2.

The Chiefs are off until Wednesday when they travel to Kamloops to face the Blazers, then they have back-to-back games in Prince George on Friday and Saturday. 

Call up: The Chiefs added first overall 2023 U.S. Priority Draft selection Brody Gillespie to their roster ahead of the game. Gillespie made his WHL debut earlier this season, on Sept. 22 against the Kamloops Blazers.

This season, the 6-foot forward has racked up 14 goals and 17 assists in 26 games with RINK Hockey Academy Kelowna U18.