On The Road with Mike Boyle

Throughout the season, Chiefs play-by-play radio broadcaster Mike Boyle will share his thoughts with his blog, On The Road with Mike Boyle. Check back frequently throughout each season as Mike takes in every second of Chiefs hockey, including behind-the-scenes perspective you can’t find anywhere else.

Archived On The Road Blogs: 2017-18 season

November 13, 2018 at Seattle

With an impressive win in Victoria, the Chiefs headed South to look to end the 3 game road trip on a winning note as they faced Seattle for the second time this season. In the two teams first meeting, Spokane held the Thunderbirds to 23 shots on their way to a 4-1 victory on October 30th at the Spokane Arena. Seattle had struggled since then, having dropped 5 in a row heading into the match up Tuesday. The Chiefs held a 5 point lead over Seattle in the standings, and knew the T-Birds would come out firing to narrow the deficit in the standings.
The Chiefs had 2 days off between the final game in Victoria and the contest in Seattle, so they got the chance to rest and relax on the travel day Sunday before getting a practice day on Monday.
The weather was reallyyy nice in Kent over the two days, as sunshine and temps in the low 60’s greeted the team over the stay. With Dawson Weatherill’s performance in Victoria, he once again got the start in Seattle. The team was still without Jake McGrew and Luke Gallagher due to their injuries suffered in Victoria, but the club welcomed back center Jack Finley, who returned after the Under 17 tournament in Canada. Spokane had lost 3 of 4 in Seattle last season, and with a rowdy Two for Tuesday night crowd, the Chiefs wanted to get out to a strong start.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as a breakdown in defensive coverage off a D-Zone face-off left Seattle’s Peyton Mount wide open net front. Mount walked in and scored on a back hander just over 3 minutes into the game to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead. That advantage held up over 20 minutes as the Chiefs failed to score on two power play chances as Seattle goalie Liam Hughes was sharp between the pipes. The second period went just like the first as a bad pinch in the offensive zone led to a Seattle 2 on 1 into the Chiefs end. Zach Andrusiak finished off the opportunity just over 3 minutes into the second and it was 2-0 Seattle. Spokane failed on 2 more power plays in the period as they were down 2 heading into the third.
The Chiefs were 0-5 this season when trailing after two periods, and with the way Hughes was playing, Spokane was going to need to do some major work in the third. Spokane had scored a power play goal in 12 straight games coming in, and they would make it 13 a little over 7 minutes into the third when Ethan McIndoe banged home a rebound of a Ty Smith shot to bring the Chiefs within 2-1. Weatherill was sharp in net, making 3 big saves in the period to keep the deficit at just one goal.
Spokane kept the pressure up offensively and would finally break through with just over 3 minutes left in the game when Eli Zummack took the puck on the right wing, went to the goal line and found an open Ty Smith streaking in between the circles. Smith rocketed home his third of the season and the Chiefs would force overtime at 2-2. In the OT, Weatherill denied a 2 on 0 breakaway to keep Spokane alive midway through the extra session. The Chiefs then broke through for their first win in OT in 4 tries as Luke Toporowski’s shot went off a Seattle defenseman’s stick and over Hughes at 3:58 to give Spokane a come from behind 3-2 victory.
It was perfect cap off to the 3 game road trip as the Chiefs moved past Tri City into third place in the division with the win. Smith extended his points scoring streak to 7 straight with a 3 point performance, and Weatherill played his best game of the season with a season high 37 saves in net. It’s the kind of win that should boost the team going forward, especially if they fall behind in a game. Not to mention, it’s always big to win in overtime. Now the team is on the bus heading home after a week on the road. A tough weekend awaits with 3 games in 3 nights, so let’s see if the Chiefs can keep things rolling as they host Seattle again on Friday.

November 10, 2018 at Victoria

Probably the best thing the Chiefs could hope for after their loss in Victoria was the fact they didn’t have to wait long to get a chance to redeem themselves. Spokane didn’t have a lot of time to stew about the previous night’s 7-5 loss to the Royals as the two teams were back on the ice the very next evening. The Chiefs not only lost on the ice Friday, but also lost forward Jake McGrew and defenseman Luke Gallagher to injury, as both were out of the lineup Saturday. The team called up their 2nd round pick Owen MacNeil from his team in Alberta to help out in the depth department. The Chiefs also moved defenseman Bobby Russell to the front lines as it was an all hands on deck mentality for the team in the re-match.
The weather was perfect Saturday as blue skies and sunshine were present allll day in Victoria. It was a bit chilly as the wind was blowing throughout the day, but the team still got a chance to relax as they looked to snap their season high 3 game losing streak. The Chiefs went with Dawson Weatherill in net after his relief appearance the night before. After seeing Victoria score two goals in the first two minutes the night before, Spokane would keep the Royals in check early. The Chiefs would then score first as Riley Woods scored his 5th goal in his last 3 games from Tyson Feist 5:57 in to give the team a 1-0 lead. Woods drove the puck hard to the net and slipped the puck past goalie Griffen Outhouse for his team leading 15th of the season.
Spokane had a chance to extend the lead on the power play midway through the period, but a turnover at the Victoria blue line led to a breakaway short handed goal by the Royals Phillip Schultz that tied the game at one. The Chiefs made sure on their next power play chance in the period, as Luke Toporowski sniped a shot from the left side to the far top corner to give Spokane a 2-1 lead. The goal was initially not called, but after replay during the next time out, it was clear Toporowski had scored and the goal was allowed. Defenseman Filip Kral, who was in his 5th game back after off season surgery, got the Chiefs a huge insurance goal on a shot from the left point with 1:07 remaining in the first to give Spokane a 3-1 lead after one.
It didn’t take long for the Chiefs to extend the lead in the second as Eli Zummack scored just 9 seconds into the period to put Spokane up 4-1. Victoria would score on a rebound midway through the second to cut the margin to 4-2, but Egor Arbuzov countered with his 2nd goal of the season on a shot from the point to give the Chiefs a commanding 5-2 lead heading to the third. Victoria looked to cut the lead on a power play goal midway through the third, but the goal was waved off after replay showed the puck had never crossed the goal line and had hit the post and came out. The Chiefs settled in after that and would score two empty net goals. Cordel Larson scored the first on a great individual effort, and then Carter Chorney scored a short handed empty netter with 1:45 left to cap off a 7-2 victory.
Spokane’s penalty kill was huge for a second straight night, going a perfect 6 for 6, while the power play was an efficient 1 for 3. Weatherill played his best game of the season with a 30 save performance, including several point blank saves while the Chiefs were short handed. Woods had another huge night offensively, going for three more points, as he has scored 10 points in his last 5 games on 5 goals and 5 assists. It was a great bounce back win for Spokane as they evened the season series with the Royals. The win also allowed the Chiefs to keep pace with both first place Everett and second place Portland as they both won tonight. Spokane is now in third by a point over Tri City and pulled 5 points ahead of Seattle in the standings. A trip to Seattle is next up for Spokane as they head there Tuesday night, so let’s hope the team can extend their lead over the Thunderbirds with a win to finish up the road swing.

November 9, 2018 at Victoria

It had been three weeks since the Chiefs were on the road, as the team had spent the past 5 games at home against opponents from their U.S. Division. After winning 2 of the first 3, Spokane was humbled with a pair of defeats to Everett and Portland as the Chiefs surrendered 7 power play goals and 14 goals total. The news didn’t get any better off the ice, as the team found out they would lose last year’s leading scorer Jaret Anderson-Dolan for 6 to 8 weeks after wrist surgery. With Anderson-Dolan out until the New Year, the team needs to find some scoring from some of the younger players to compensate. Spokane also needs to find some defensive commitment, as the club was way too lax in their own zone at the end of the home stand.
With that, the Chiefs headed out to Victoria for their annual two game trip to face the Royals. Last season, Spokane split the two game set, winning the last match up behind a two goal night from Eli Zummack. The team headed out bright and early Thursday morning for the all day trip to Victoria. With the ferry ride, the journey took about 11 hours before the team got to rink to unload their gear for the following days game. The weather was perfect all the way over, which certainly helped in the time department. The team was met by defenseman Ty Smith in the lobby as they unloaded at the hotel after Smith arrived from Vancouver, where he had played in the Team WHL-Russia series. Smith had scored the only goal for the WHL in the Vancouver game, so the team was hoping some of that scoring would follow him into Victoria.
Friday started as a rainy day, but quickly cleared out once lunch time came around. With the injury to Anderson-Dolan, the club is carrying the minimum 12 forwards to play up front. After taking the losses in the two games the previous weekend, Bailey Brkin was back in net for Spokane, hoping to snap his two game losing streak. The Chiefs had not lost more than 2 in a row all season, and were hoping to keep that intact in facing the Royals. Things did not start well from the opening face off, as Victoria scored just 9 seconds into the game on a shot from the goal line that went right over Brkin’s shoulder and in the net. The next shot of the Royals also found the net, as a wobbler from the blue line from D Jay Jerome got past Brkin 1:55 in and it suddenly 2-0 Royals.
That goal spelled the end of the night for Brkin, as Dawson Weatherill relieved him for the 2nd time in 3 games in the first period. Spokane got a spark as Riley Woods scored 58 seconds after Jerome’s goal to cut the deficit to 2-1. Victoria would score late in the period to re-claim a two goal lead, but Woods countered right back with his second of the night at 18:15 to bring Spokane within 3-2 after the first. The Chiefs were out shot 16-6 in the first, and without Woods one man show, would have been out of the game after 20 minutes. Spokane was still in it though, but would fall behind by 2 goals once again a Victoria scored midway through the second to make it 4-2. The Chiefs got their first power play chance of the game late in the period, and would capitalize as Luke Toporowski scored on a rebound of a Nolan Reid shot at 17:02 to get within 4-3. But Spokane would serve up a back breaking goal with just 56 seconds remaining in the second after a turnover and missed defensive assignment to trail 5-3 after two.
Critical mistakes were costing the Chiefs and the team was hoping to cut those out in the third. The period started well for Spokane as Ethan McIndoe scored his 5th of the year just 2:38 into the third to bring the Chiefs within 5-4. It was as close as Spokane got. Victoria would get two goals in a 3:23 span midway through the third to blow the game open at 7-4. Carter Chorney scored 36 seconds after the Royals last goal to make it 7-5, but despite pulling Weatherill in the final 3 minutes, Spokane fell short by 2. The Chiefs out shot Victoria 16-5 in the third, but could only come out of the period at 2-2 with the Royals.
It capped a frustrating night for the Chiefs, as a lot went wrong for this club. Shaky goaltending to start, followed by some lax defense at critical moments in the comeback, and then finished off with a combination of the two in the third added up to Spokane’s first 3 game losing streak of the season. While the special teams play was cleaned up from the previous two games, the five on five play was sporadic at best. There’s a lot to improve with this hockey team right now, and it’s not going to be fixed overnight. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they are right back on the ice tomorrow night here in Victoria, so there’s little time to right the ship. Let’s just hope the team starts a lot better than they did tonight in tomorrow’s game.

October 20, 2018 at Prince Albert

Coming off a disappointing overtime loss the night before in Saskatoon, the Chiefs had to gather themselves and summon up one last bit of energy as they finished off their 6 game road trip through the East Saturday night in Prince Albert. You always hear the saying, “Saving the best for last”, but in this case, it was “Saving the toughest for last.” The Chiefs were taking on a Prince Albert team that was rated #1 in the latest CHL poll and had ripped out to an 11-1 start. No Raider team had ever started as well as this one, and they were determined to show the Chiefs why.
While Spokane was going into their 4th game in 5 nights and 6th in nine, the Raiders had been off since a home game Tuesday and were chomping at the bit to get back on the ice. It would show in the very first period as Spokane looked a step slow off the opening face-off. The Chiefs took a penalty just over 5 minutes into the game, and 46 seconds later, the Raiders Noah Gregor scored into an open net on the power play to make it 1-0. While the Chiefs would kill off 2 more Prince Albert power plays in the period, the ice definitely tilted in the Raiders direction as they out shot Spokane 19-8 in the first. Prince Albert scored three more goals in the period as they took the game to a tired Chiefs squad to take a 4-0 lead after one.
A turnover by Spokane in their own zone led to a Sean Montgomery easy goal 4:15 into the second to make it 5-0 Prince Albert. At this point, the game felt over and I was wondering when Prince Albert would hit double figures. The Chiefs fought back though, as the Chiefs scored on their first power play chance of the second as a Nolan Reid blast from the right wall went in for his first of the season to cut the lead to 5-1. The Chiefs then made it a tad interesting just over 15 minutes into the second as rookie Erik Atchison scored on a rebound net front for his first career goal to make it a 5-2 game heading into the second.
The Chiefs had a power play to start the third and a goal at this point would have made things a bit tight for the Raiders. Unfortunately, Spokane came up empty on the power play and when the Raiders scored on a shot from the left wing almost 4 minutes into the third, the competitive phase of this contest came to an end.
Prince Albert would score 2 more goals in the period late to wrap up an 8-2 rout as the road trip ended with a thud for the Chiefs. The last game of the trip is always the toughest, and it showed on this night as the club made way too many mental mistakes with the puck to get a positive result. Prince Albert showed why they’re the top club in the league, and hopefully Spokane will learn from this as they head home to open a 5 game homestand.
Things are tight in the U.S. Division, as the Chiefs are tied with Portland for first, just 1 point ahead of Seattle, and 3 up on Everett and Tri City. Everett and Tri could catch Spokane by the time the Chiefs hit the ice, and Seattle could pass them as well. Spokane will host Portland, Tri City and Seattle in their next 3 contests in which will be keyyy games in the division. Let’s hope the boys get some good rest and get back to playing the type of hockey they played early in this road trip, as they will need that when they get back home.

October 19, 2018 at Saskatoon

The Chiefs have now been on the road for the last 9 days and it’s starting to feel like it. After picking up a shutout win in Regina Wednesday, the club got their final day off of the trip on Thursday in Saskatoon. It was a beautiful sunny day as the temperatures reached the 60’s. I know how good it felt to have a day off, so I’m sure the team enjoyed it as well with a light skate. The rest was going to help the Chiefs gear up for the toughest two games of the Eastern swing as they faced second place Saskatoon and first place Prince Albert in back to back nights.
First up were the Blades, who had lost 2 in a row, including a home overtime loss to Calgary on Wednesday. This came after Saskatoon had won 7 of their first 9 to keep them within striking distance of first place Prince Albert in the East. The Chiefs had gone 3-1 in their first 4 games of the road trip and had moved into first place in the U.S. Division. Spokane expected Saskatoon to come out ready to jump on a Chiefs club on their 3rd game in 4 nights, and that’s exactly what happened. The Blades generated three straight power plays in the first period and would get a 5 on 3 advantage after back to back minors on the Chiefs late in the stanza. Saskatoon’s Eric Florchuk would slam home a one timer from the right circle with the 2 man advantage at 14:34 to give the Blades a 1-0 lead.
Spokane wouldn’t generate their first power play until the 18:43 mark of the first, but the Chiefs capitalized in just 8 seconds on the chance. Luke Toporowski scored on a rebound from the right circle after a Ty Smith shot from the left point to tie the game at one. Smith made a terrific play to keep the puck in the zone after a Nolan Reid pass hugged the blue line. After being out shot 15-8 in the period and spending most of the period in their own zone, the Chiefs had to feel great being tied 1-1 after the first.
In the second, Spokane turned around the game offensively as they generated three straight power plays early in the period. The Chiefs would get a 2 man advantage of their own just over 7 minutes in, and would take advantage just 8 seconds in as Smith scored his second of the year on a blast from the point at 7:19 to give Spokane a 2-1 lead. The margin would hold up until the final second of the period. The Chiefs stormed the Saskatoon net in the final seconds of the second, but Blades goalie Nolan Meier made a couple of key saves to keep Spokane off the board. Saskatoon went on a rush in the final seconds and a tip net front from Kirby Dach went under the bar with just .6 seconds left to tie the game at two. It was a tough sequence for the Chiefs as they had a chance to take a two goal lead into the third, but instead found themselves tied with 20 minutes left.
In the third, neither team was able to score as the Chiefs out shot Saskatoon 14-6 in the period. Spokane had to kill off two Blades power plays in the stanza and would head into overtime for the third time this season. In the previous two OT’s, Spokane extended the game to a shootout, only to lose on both occasions to Vancouver and Medicine Hat. On this night, the Chiefs nearly won in the opening seconds of the overtime as Toporowski’s rebound of his own shot hit the far post and kicked out. Saskatoon took the puck the other way and Dach would score his second of the night off a rebound net front 37 seconds into OT to give the Blades a 3-2 win.
Spokane out shot Saskatoon 43-33 in the game, going 2-5 on the power play and 5-6 on the penalty kill. Brkin was good in net once again as he made several net front saves and turned away a couple of breakaways. The Chiefs certainly had opportunities to win the game, but then again, so did the Blades. The positive is Spokane came away with a point to go 3-1-1 on the East trip, and the Chiefs held on to their first place spot in the U.S. Division after Seattle lost at Tri City. Now the team gets a chance to get one more night of rest before packing out of the hotel for one final game at Prince Albert tomorrow night. Let’s just see how much is left in the tank for Spokane as they get ready to face the #1 team in the CHL Saturday.

October 17, 2018 at Regina

A good come from behind win on the road can usually be the jump start to better things ahead for a team, regardless of what sport you play. When you’re a hockey team beginning a 4 games in 5 nights stretch, a win like that can really propel your club forward. The Chiefs were hoping that is what would exactly happen for them after their come from behind 6-4 win at Brandon the night before as Spokane headed to Regina for game 4 of their 6 game road swing through the East Division on Wednesday.
After the boys got back to the hotel in Regina from Brandon about 1:30am, the team slept in and got some rest for the night’s tilt with the Pats. It was beautifullll in Regina, as the temperatures reached into the 60’s. I even opened the door on my hotel balcony during the afternoon, something that seemed impossible just a couple days ago when the temps got into the 30’s. The Chiefs looked ready to go as the puck dropped too, as the club came out and dominated the game offensively in the first half of the first period. Spokane broke through as Ethan McIndoe converted a Luke Toporowski pass into an open net just over 6 minutes into the game to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead after one. The club got a bit on their heels defensively towards the end of the period after a 4 minute double minor high sticking penalty, but goalie Bailey Brkin and the defense shut down the Pats power play to keep the one goal lead.
Spokane failed to score on a pair of power plays early in the second period but would convert on their 3rd of the stanza when Adam Beckman sniped a shot top glove on Pats goalie Max Paddock late in the second to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead after two. If there were any worries about holding the two goal lead in the third, those quickly disappeared as Jack Finley scored his third goal in the last two nights on a rebound just 2 minutes into the period to make it 3-0. Defenseman Mike Ladyman picked up his first point as a Chief with an assist in just his second game with Spokane.
The Chiefs would cap the scoring just a minute and a half later as Beckman notched his second of the night to wrap up a 4-0 win. Brkin then put a bow on the evening with his second shut out as a Chief with 35 saves as the team put up 43 shots for the second straight night. The team had now won 3 of 4 on the road trip as they headed North to Saskatoon to take on the Blades on Friday. First though, is a well deserved day off for the boys. The bus ride to Saskatoon was festive to say the least, and it’s good to see the team enjoying themselves. They’ve earned it thus far, and let’s hope it continues for two more games this weekend.

October 16th, 2018 @ Brandon

The Chiefs got a couple days to get away from the ice and decompress as it were, after losing last Saturday at Moose Jaw. There was no question the team had let a couple of points slip away in that loss and it was important to get back to executing the little things to get back in the win column as the Chiefs headed East to Manitoba to face the Brandon Wheat Kings. The club had got bad news as defenseman Matt Leduc was lost with a leg injury, so Spokane called up D-man Michael Ladyman from Mantitoba to take over on the blue line.
With the next game the following night in Regina, the team stayed in Regina rather than head to Brandon the day before the game. The Chiefs stopped in Moosomin right off the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border for lunch and then headed into the bi-annual stop in Brandon. Spokane went back to Bailey Brkin in net after Dawson Weatherill took the loss in Moose Jaw. Brkin won the opener of the trip in Swift Current Friday and had only lost once in 4 starts, and that was in a shootout.
Spokane didn’t exactly start the game in ideal fashion as a bounce off the end wall saw the puck head over the Chiefs net and land net front. The Wheat Kings Luka Burzan batted the puck past Brkin just 3:41 into the game to make it 1-0 Brandon. The Wheaties then went up 2-0 when Ridly Greig took a stretch pass and split between 2 Chiefs defensemen to snap home a goal midway through the period to give Brandon a 2-0 lead. Spokane answered right back though, as Riley Woods took an Adam Beckman feed and scored between the circles just 13 seconds later to cut the margin in half at 2-1. The Chiefs then pulled even as Jack Finley scored from between the circles on the power play with a shot that went under the bar at 12:23 to send the game to the second period tied at 2.
The Chiefs took their first lead of the game midway through the second period when Eli Zummack took a Riley Woods pass and weaved his way from right to left across the circles to score his 4th of the year to give Spokane a 3-2 lead. The lead was short lived however, as Brandon scored just 20 seconds later to tie it up at 3 heading into the third period. The shots were even at 30 each through 2 in what was proving to be a very energetic and entertaining game.
In the third, another goofy bounce off the end wall benefited the Wheat Kings as a shot came out net front and hit Jake McGrew’s leg and into the open net to make it 4-3 Brandon just over 4 minutes into the third. The lead held until midway through the period when Ty Smith skated his way around the Brandon defense into the left circle and hit an open Zummack net front at 11:34 to tie the game at 4. Spokane slowly took control of the game offensively and broke through in the final 3 minutes. Ethan McIndoe got the puck behind the net, came out front and got off a back hand shot on goal. The rebound came to an open Finley and he scored his second of the night with 2:37 left to give the Chiefs a 5-4 lead.
Spokane would wrap up the comeback win when Smith lifted the puck out of the defensive zone in the final minute while Brandon had their net empty and an extra skater on. McIndoe chased down the loose puck and put away the game with an empty netter to seal the 6-4 victory and move the Chiefs to 2-1 on the East Division swing. The Chiefs out shot Brandon 43-40 on the night as they picked up their second straight win over Brandon in as many years. Zummack and Finley each ended up with 2 goals, while Riley Woods had a goal and an assist, and Smith, Nolan Reid and Luke Toporowski had 2 assists apiece. Brkin made some big saves in the third on his way to a 36 save effort and his 4th win of the year.
It was a great come from behind victory for the club and it should prove to be big going forward on this trip. There isn’t a lot of time to enjoy it though, as the bus is headed West back towards Regina for a meeting with the Pats tomorrow night. Here’s hoping the team plays as well tomorrow as they did tonight, because if they do, things should go Spokane’s way.

October 13, 2018 at Moose Jaw

With a win in Swift Current under their belts, the Chiefs made the hour and a half drive to Moose Jaw on Saturday for game two of their East Division swing. While Spokane has see temperatures around 50, the temps in Swift and Moose Jaw have been in the 20’s. Coming home from the game Friday, there was snow mixed in with the rain that fell overnight. On Saturday, the precipitation dried up, but the winds picked up something fierce, as the wind chill took the temps down towards 10 degrees. It’s been brutal. The team braved the frigid temps and visited the Swift Current Broncos memorial outside of Swift on their way to Moose Jaw on Saturday. The memorial marks the area where 4 Broncos players lost their lives in a bus accident in December of 1986. It’s a pretty sobering reminder of how important the bus drivers are in junior hockey all across Canada and the U.S.
Fortunately, the Chiefs have one of the best in Kevin Whalen and I for one am pretty damn thankful the team has him behind the wheel. KJ as he’s called, has been the team’s driver for the last decade, and it’s nice to have someone who knows the lay of the land and can get the boys to their games quickly and safely. It was pretty breezy on the drive to Moose Jaw Saturday and it’s safe to say the load out of the gear into the arena was pretty quick as it was brutallyyyy cold out. I’m just glad there wasn’t 2 feet of snow to slog through. I’ve done that enough on these trips.
As for the game itself, the team started Dawson Weatherill in net after Bailey Brkin picked up the win the night before. Just like the game in Swift, the Chiefs would take an early 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Ty Smith from the point with just over a minute and a half left in the first period. Spokane started a bit slow offensively in the game, but after being out shot 4-1, put up the last 9 shots of the period. The lead held until midway through the second, as Moose Jaw tied the game on a shot from just above the goal line that snuck through Weatherill along the post. It was certainly a goal the Chiefs netminder would like to have back. Spokane came right back and re-took the lead though as Carter Chorney tipped a Smith shot from the point for his second goal in as many nights to give the Chiefs a 2-1 lead at 16:07. Moose Jaw would tie the game again on a goal on a rebound off a bad bounce for Spokane with just 12 seconds left in the period to send the game to the third tied at two.
The Warriors would take their first lead early in the third as they scored with just 20 seconds left on their only power play of the period. Daemon Hunt’s shot from point eluded Weatherill at 4:17 of the third to make it 3-2 Moose Jaw. Spokane would then get a 5 minute major power play midway through the period as the Chiefs Ethan McIndoe was checked from behind. The Chiefs converted as Riley Woods scored his team leading 7th of the season on an Adam Beckman pass between the circles to tie the game at 3. It appeared Beckman gave the Chiefs the lead towards the end of the 5 minute power play as he batted a puck out of mid-air with his stick into the net. It was ruled a no goal by the referee as he ruled the puck had been hit above the cross bar. A couple of the replays were inconclusive, but one from up ice showed while Beckman started his stick above…he hit the puck below the bar. The goal should have counted, but was not and it ended up costing the Chiefs.
Moose Jaw would score off an offensive zone face-off midway through the third on a Hunt shot from the left point that slid through Weatherill’s pads to give the Warriors a 4-3 lead. Despite out shooting Moose Jaw 30-20 in the game, and going a perfect 2-2 on the power play, the Chiefs would end up losing 4-3 in a game that Spokane should have won. The loss dropped the Chiefs from possibly moving into first place in the U.S. Division down to a tie for third. It was 2 points the team left on the ice and hopefully won’t regret doing so later in the season.
Now the club gets a couple of days off in Regina before they out Tuesday to Brandon to face the Wheat Kings. One thing’s for sure..the trip isn’t going to get any easier. The Chiefs will face 4 games in 5 nights starting Tuesday, and three of the teams they take on, Brandon, Saskatoon and Prince Albert are ranked or received votes in the latest CHL poll. We’ll see how the boys respond and hope the weather warms up a bit too!

October 12, 2018 at Swift Current

It had been almost 2 weeks since the Chiefs boarded the bus and headed out on the road. After going 1-1-0-1 in their first 3 road contests, the team headed out on their longest road trip of the season as they began their bi-annual trip through the East Division of the Western Hockey League. The journey is long and a test of endurance as Spokane will play 6 games in 9 nights. Throw in 2 full days of travel around the games and the team will travel over 2,300 miles in a week and a half on the bus. Then there’s the challenges on the ice, as the team will face 3 of the top clubs in the league in those 6 contests. It will be a grind as well as a chance for the club to see how they measure up.
The trip would begin on the Wednesday night before the first game Friday in Swift Current. The all night ride was long and exhausting as sleep came at a premium. The Chiefs got into Medicine Hat between 7:30 and 8 Thursday morning in time for breakfast at IHOP. Breakfast was brief, as the team had a practice time of 11am in Swift Current. The Chiefs got to Swift about 10:15, and had about an hour on the ice to get rid of the bus legs to prepare for the next night’s game with Swift Current. The club then was able to have lunch at Wong’s, a very good Chinese restaurant that had a faboulous buffet spread. Let’s say the team walked away happy after that meal. I certainly did.
The Chiefs had the rest of the day off and got a chance to rest up for the next day’s contest with the Broncos. Swift is the defending league champions, but lost quite a bit of firepower from last year’s squad. The Broncos came in as the only team without a point, having started 0-6. It was also Swift’s last home game before heading out on a 6 game road trip, so the Chiefs knew they were facing a desperated club Friday. Spokane went with Bailey Brkin in net for the 3rd straight start as he had played well in the weekend split at home with Medicine Hat and Edmonton.
Spokane would come out in the first period and dominate offensively. The Chiefs spent most of the period in the Broncos end of the ice, putting up a season high 24 shots in the first 20 minutes. Spokane wasn’t able to break through though until just 1:50 remained as Eli Zummack scored on a tip of a Bobby Russell shot to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead after one. Spokane ran into trouble early in the second when Tyson Feist took a 4 minute double minor penalty for high sticking just over 2.5 minutes into the period. The Chiefs penalty kill came through though as they killed off the penalty and then just over 2 minutes later expanded the lead. Carter Chorney tipped a Matt Leduc shot in 8:01 into the second to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead and give Spokane the momentum going through the rest of the period.
The team out shot Swift Current 34-20 through two periods and killed off 3 Broncos power plays in the second. In the third, Riley Woods got the puck up the left wing midway through the period and hit an open Jake McGrew net front off the rush to expand the Chiefs lead to 3-0. Goalie Bailey Brkin’s shutout was spoiled on a Broncos goal at 15:44, but Spokane finished off the win when Woods scored on an empty netter in the final 20 seconds to cap off a nice 4-1 win to start the road trip. The Chiefs put up a season high 48 shots and went a perfect 4-4 on the penalty kill to beat Swift for the third straight season.
It was a nice start to the road trip as the team will now get ready to head to Moose Jaw for Saturday’s second contest of the road swing. The club will spend the night in Swift Current before heading out on game day for the 1.5 hour road trip to Moose Jaw. The Warriors dropped an overtime game in Brandon tonight, so they’ll be hungry to pick up a win on their home ice. The Chiefs did lose defenseman Matt Leduc to a leg injury in Swift and he looks doubtful for Moose Jaw, so Luke Gallagher will be asked to step up in his place. It will be another challenge for Spokane, but that seems par for the course on the East trip. Let’s hope the boys are up for it tomorrow night.

September 30, 2018 at Vancouver

Three games in three nights…in three different cities. It’s a daunting task no matter how you stack it up. The Chiefs had passed the first two tests well, as they scored back to back wins over Kootenay in a home and home series. The most series test would come in the final game Sunday as Spokane headed to Vancouver to face the Giants for the first time this season.
After Saturday’s home opening win over Kootenay, the team got on the bus for the 7 plus hour drive to Langley, B.C., where the Giants play their home games. The team unloaded at the rink about 5:30am and were in the hotel at 6am. The pre-game meal of chicken, rice, vegetables, and pasta was at 11:30am as the team would head to rink beginning at 1:30. It rained the entire time the Chiefs were in Canada and while it felt good to see some rain for the first time in weeks, it got a little dreary too as the day went along. Not to mentioned I got soaked just walking my bag to the bus.
The team was without forward Jake McGrew, who stayed behind after taking a shot to the mouth the night before. Having to undergo dental surgery was far more difficult than an overnight bus ride and playing a game at 4pm the next day, believe me. Been there. Playing their third game in a row, it was important to get off to a good start and not fall behind big on tired legs. The Chiefs managed to do just that as Bobby Russell took a Mike King pass and scored on a back hand 3:42 into the game to give Spokane a 1-0 lead. It was Russell’s second straight game with a goal, while King and forward Erik Atchison picked up their first points at Chiefs with assists.
Adam Beckman started a big night offensively for him as he took a Riley Woods feed and scored from between the circles at 12:01 of the period to make it 2-0 Spokane. Vancouver answered just over 2 minutes later right after the Chiefs had killed off a power play. James Malm, the Giants leading goal scorer got in between the circles and scored 3 seconds after Vancouver’s power play expired to cut the Spokane lead to 2-1 after one. The Chiefs got the lead back to two midway through the second period on the power play. Beckman notched his second of the night for his first multi-goal game of his career to build the lead back to 3-1 for Spokane. The Giants then scored 2 goals just over 3 minutes apart late in the second to pull back even at 3 apiece. The first came off a rush on the left wing, while the second was a goal from the low right circle that goalie Dawson Weatherill would like to have back. Weatherill left his leg pads wide open along the near post and the Giants Kaleb Bulych took advantage to even the game up. The Chiefs answered with under a minute left in the second as Jack Finley scored his first WHL goal on a knuckleball that went off a Vancouver stick and under the cross bar with just 38 seconds left in the period to give Spokane a 4-3 lead heading into the third.
The Chiefs held the lead through the third as they played a close to the vest defensive style in the final period. Vancouver pulled their goalie with just over a minute and a half left to bring on the extra skater and the move paid off. The Chiefs had trouble winning puck battles and clearing the zone, and Vancouver broke through when Brayden Watts got the puck in the left circle and beat Weatherill through a screen with 44 seconds left to tie the game at 4. The two teams managed just one shot in a very conservatively played overtime, forcing a shootout for the first time for the two clubs this season.
Neither team scored in the first round, but Vancouver would score in round two to take a 1-0 lead. The Giants held that lead as Spokane’s third shooter Eli Zummack had to score to keep the Chiefs hopes alive. Zummack came through, scoring in round three to force sudden death rounds. Watts scored for Vancouver in round 4 to make it 2-1 Giants. The Chiefs Carter Chorney was denied in his attempt and Vancouver came away with a 5-4 shootout victory, their second straight over Spokane over the last 2 seasons.
While the Chiefs did get 5 out of 6 points over the grueling weekend, there was definitely a sense of leaving a point behind after coming within 44 seconds of three straight wins. The team will get a good rest though, as they are off until the following weekend when they host Medicine Hat and Edmonton at the Spokane Arena. Hopefully McGrew will be back in the lineup, and the Chiefs will be that much closer to seeing a full lineup during the month of October. The win did push the Chiefs into first in the U.S. Division as well, so the team is in good shape going forward. The week of rest will do the Chiefs a lot of good, and I for one, will be glad to join them on the rest break.

September 29, 2018 at Kootenay

After taking a pasting in a 6-1 road loss in the season opener the Saturday before, the Chiefs got a much needed week off to re-evaluate and work out their game before facing a challenging 3 games in 3 nights stretch the following weekend. The team got good news on several fronts during the week, starting with the returns of forwards Jake McGrew from San Jose’s NHL camp and Luke Toporowski from Team USA’s Top Prospects game. Then as the team was getting ready to depart to Cranbrook on Friday to open the weekend with the Kootenay Ice, the club found out defenseman Ty Smith was heading back to Spokane from New Jersey’s NHL camp.
While Smith wouldn’t be available until Saturday’s home opener with Kootenay, the team hit the road North to Cranbrook with a renewed sense as they faced an Ice team that had won its’ opener last weekend against Calgary. The drive to Cranbrook is the second closest for the Chiefs, going only 3.5 hours from Spokane. It’s the perfect time of year to move through the North Idaho panhandle, and after a brief lunch in Bonner’s Ferry, the team got to the rink ready to go. The club had good success on Kootenay’s home ice last season, winning all 3 games, although two were just by one goal..with one of those going to overtime.
The Chiefs got off to a good start in the first as Riley Woods scored the first goal of the game for the second straight contest. Luke Gallagher’s shot from the blue line was saved, but McGrew got the puck back on net for Woods to finish a rebound past goalie Duncan McGovern to give Spokane a 1-0 lead after one. Eli Zummack made it 2-0 early in the second period as he finished off a 2 on 1 rush with Toporowski with a nifty back hand net front. McGrew then scored on a 5 on 3 power play with a shot from the top of the left circle that beat McGovern under the blocker to make it 3-0 at 14:05 of the period. Kootenay’s Brett Davis scored a power play goal just over two minutes later to cut the lead to 3-1, but Spokane answered with a huge goal in the final 30 seconds of the period when Toporowski found an open Adam Beckman between the circles for his first WHL goal to make it 4-1 after two. Rookie defenseman Egor Arbuzov also notched his first career point with an assist.
Forward Sean Gulka then scored his first WHL point with an assist on Matt Leduc’s second career goal early in the third that gave Spokane what seemed to be a commanding 5-1 lead. Kootenay had other ideas however, as the Ice scored their second power play goal of the night on a power play midway through the third to make it 5-2. Then just 29 seconds later, the Ice scored again, and it was suddenly a game at 5-3. When Davis scored his second power play tally of the night at 17:13 to make it 5-4, the sure win suddenly looked very much in doubt.
Kootenay would pull McGovern from net in the final 2 minutes, but the Chiefs didn’t flinch. Carter Chorney got the puck in the defensive zone and found Toporowski, who lifted the puck 3/4 of the length of the ice to score in the empty net to make it 6-4. Just 30 seconds later, Ethan McIndoe won a puck battle and hit Jake McGrew at center ice. McGrew scored his second of the game into the open net to seal a 7-4 win and cap a 3 point night for McGrew in his return to Spokane. Toporowski and Zummack each had a goal and an assist, while Beckman, Arbuzov, Gulka, and Bobby Russell all notched their first points as Chiefs.
It was quite a turnaround performance, particularly offensively, from the Chiefs managed in their first game against Tri City. Now the question will be, will the team maintain that in their home opener with the Ice Saturday and again Sunday in Vancouver? Consistency is always the goal, and this 3 games in 3 nights stretch is a good time to see if the club is making steps in that direction. For now though, it’s time to enjoy a little Boston Pizza lasagna on the bus and try to get a little shut eye before tomorrow’s home opener.

September 22, 2018 at Tri City

I’m the first to admit it. This season has snuck up on me. After a summer of baseball with the Spokane Indians, and their run to the Northwest League Championship series, I’m still in kind of a baseball mood. After all, the Indians season just ended last Tuesday night, just 11 days ago. The fact is though, baseball is over..just ask the Mariners…and hockey is upon us.
While I was off running all over the Northwest with the Indians in early September, the Chiefs were going through their 3 week pre-season, going an impressive 4-1-1, including two decisive wins over Tri City to end the exhibition season. After outscoring the Americans 12-4 in the two victories in Kennewick, it may have been easy to look at the season opener at Tri as a contest that was very winnable for Spokane. One thing I’ve learned in sports though…never judge a team by pre-season.
The Chiefs entered their season opener minus Ty Smith, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Jake McGrew. Luke Toporowski, and Filip Kral. That’s quite a lot to be missing, but the team seemed to have plenty of young depth ready to step up to the challenge of facing an Americans team missing just one top liner in Michael Rasmussen. The big question for me was whether the Chiefs young guns who had played so well in the exhibition games would step up to match the experienced front liners for Tri City.
Saturday’s trip to Tri did not start great. Before the team bus got through the Cheney exits on I-90, the coach died by the Salnave Road exit. Fortunately, the bus barn wasn’t far away and another bus was summoned so the team could unload the gear and pack up for the rest of the journey on a new bus. The club arrived about a half hour later than normal…and after the bus engine conked out coming into the Toyota Center parking lot to unload. Fortunately, we were able to coast in and get the bus parked to unload for the night’s game. It also turned out to be a harbinger of things to come for Spokane later in the evening.
The Chiefs started well though. Just 1:30 into the game, Tri City had taken 2 penalties, giving Spokane a 5 on 3 advantage on the power play for over a minute. The club took advantage too, as Riley Woods took a Eli Zummack pass and one timed a shot from the right circle just 2:20 into the game to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead. Spokane failed to score in the remaining 1:11 of the power play, but still led it by one early. Tri would come back and tie it just 3 minutes later as a shot from the left wing beat a screened Dawson Weatherill to even the game at one. The Chiefs then committed a costly turnover at their blue line trying to break out of their zone, and the Ams scored off a 2 on 1 rush as Kyle Olson scored net front late in the period to give the Americans a 2-1 lead after one.
Spokane needed to come out and play well in the second to get the game back in their corner, but the Chiefs played their flattest period of the night and it ended up costing them the game. Tri’s Nolan Yaremko scored on a savable shot from the right wing to beat Weatherill under the blocker far side to give the Ams a 3-1 lead. Yaremko then tipped in a shot net front late in the period to make it 4-1 Tri City after two. Meantime, the Chiefs offense was quiet like a church mouse in the period, managing next to nothing in quality chances.
The Chiefs had a couple of great opportunities to get back in the game in the third. Eli Zummack got a glorious chance net front in the first minute and a half of the third, but his open net shot was poked away by Americans goalie Beck Warm to deny the Chiefs cutting the lead in half. Spokane then got a power play about 4 minutes later, but failed to do much with it as they remained 3 back. To make things worse, Tri City scored after the failed power play chance to go up 4 at 5-1 to pretty much end the competitive phase of this contest. The Americans would tack on another goal in the final minutes to complete the 6-1 rout as the Chiefs suffered their second lopsided season opening loss in Tri in the last 3 seasons.
About the only positive I could pick out of the defeat was the Chiefs penalty kill unit going a perfect 4 for 4, while the power play was 1-4. Other than that, there will be a lot to learn from for this team going forward. Spokane will get plenty of practice time too, as the team is off until next weekend’s home and home set with the Kootenay Ice. Let’s hope the Chiefs learned their lessons and will be a bit more ready in Cranbrook next Friday.