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Spokane Chiefs

Austin Roest registers hat trick, Spokane Chiefs fall to Everett 7-4

After a difficult, and losing, seven-game road trip to start the new year, the Spokane Chiefs have won three of their last five games to quietly sneak into the eighth and final playoff spot in the WHL’s Western Conference. There’s plenty of time left in the season, but considering they won 15 games in regulation all of last season, they’ve come a long way in a short amount of time.

The Chiefs split a pair of games over the weekend against the two top teams in the conference, and Tuesday brought the third place Everett Silvertips to the Arena.

The home team played even through two periods, but the visitors had the better of play in the third.

Austin Roest finished a hat trick with the go-ahead goal in the final frame and the Silvertips pulled away from the Chiefs 7-4 for their fifth win in a row.

Berkly Catton and Shea Van Olm had a goal and an assist apiece for Spokane (17-23-4-0).

“The last two games haven’t gone our way,” acting head coach Stefan Legein said. “But these guys are pulling in the right direction. To say as a coach that you’re happy to be kind of just holding that last playoff spot, you’re not really. But when you kind of take things into perspective, look at the bigger picture of where the organization is, it’s a good been a good job by our group.”

Tied 4-4 entering the third period, Spokane forward Conner Roulette was whistled for a 4-minute high-sticking penalty, putting Everett on an extended power play. The Silvertips made good with 1:15 left on the advantage, with Roest completing his second hat trick of the season from the slot off a feed from Carter Bear.

“It hurts anytime you take offensive end penalties,” Legein said. “We ended up taking two in the third there and it was 6 minutes of the game that we’re not able to push and kind of dictate our will (at) five on five and get our forecheck going and wear them down and put them on their heels.”

Everett made it a two-goal game 3 minutes later on Dominik Rymon’s 25th goal of the season. Beau Courtney added an empty net goal with 46 seconds left.

“It’s all positive and you don’t want to take anything away,” Legein said. “But I think if we’re going to be able to win games against teams like Everett and Prince George and Portland regularly, we still have a lot of learning to do.

“We still have a lot of lessons to learn and what it takes to play hockey in late January, early February into March and into the playoffs. It’s it’s a whole different thing than a lot of our guys have seen.”

The Chiefs got out to a quick start. Roulette scored a power play goal assisted by Catton just 3 minutes in for his 30th of the season, then Layton Feist potted his seventh of the campaign a minute and a half later.

Teague Patton put Everett (31-15-1-2) on the board with his 18th of the season midway through the period.

With just more than 1 minute left in the first, Catton won a puck along the half wall, deked goalie Tyler Palmer and beat him with a backhander for his team-leading 32nd goal of the season – tied for fourth in the league. The center, expected to go in the top 10 or so picks in this year’s NHL draft, had 23 goals in 63 games last season.

The two-goal lead didn’t last long, as Roest connected 24 seconds later, and Spokane took a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.

Everett tied it up midway through the second period. The Chiefs lost a battle behind their net and the puck came out to Lucas Kaplan. His initial shot was denied by goalie Cooper Michaluk, but Roest picked up the loose puck and beat him with a backhander to even it up.

The Silvertips took the lead with 2:21 left in the period as Carter Bear took a pass in the center of the ice and whipped it past Michaluk for his 20th of the season.

Down a skater late, Shae Van Olm gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone, fought off a defender, dangled through the slot and sent a short-handed goal past Everett goalie Ethan Chadwick to tie it with 21 seconds left in the period.

“(Van Olm) has been great for us since he got here,” Legein said. “He’s got skill and touch, but his most admirable trait is his character and hard work. And I think that goal is exactly the kind of kid he is.” 

Chiefs head coach Ryan Smith is with Team Canada at the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, South Korea.