SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane Chiefs used late heroics from forward Markson Bechtold to sneak past the visiting Kootenay ICE, 4-3 on Friday night at Spokane Arena. Keanu Yamamoto sent just under 6,000 stuffed animals flying onto the ice earlier in the game as he scored the annual Teddy Bear Toss goal.
Yamamoto snapped his 12th goal of the season past Kootenay goaltender Jakob Walter at the 4:01 mark of the first period, sending the crowd of 8,322 at the Arena out of their seats to take part in the annual holiday tradition. The 5,869 animals collected from the ice surface will be donated to the Spokane community by the Chiefs via The Spokesman-Review Christmas Bureau.
The goal extended Yamamoto’s team-leading point streak to 10 games and gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead but Kootenay responded in kind as winger Barrett Sheen sniped his sixth of the season to the top-right corner past Chiefs’ netminder Dawson Weatherill at the 9:03 mark.
Spokane retook the lead just over a minute into the second as Kailer Yamamoto, in his second game back from injury earlier this month, put one on the highlight reels, slicing through the ICE defense before slipping the puck under Walter, all while being tripped from behind. Rookie defenseman Ty Smith earned an assist on the goal, which was Yamamoto’s team-best 18th.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan, fresh off his second hat trick of the season on Wednesday night, took a perfect feed from Kailer Yamamoto to punch in his 14th of the year at the 14:22 mark of the second to give Spokane a 3-1 lead.
Kootenay stormed back to tie the game with two power play goals, first from Zak Zborosky at the 18:18 mark of the second. Zborosky’s perfectly placed shot from the left circle gave him 23 on the season, good for 2nd in the Western Hockey League. The ICE’s third goal came on a rebound opportunity as Vince Loschiavo forced in his 9th of the season off assists from Zborosky and Dallas Hines.
It looked like Spokane was headed to overtime for the third time in five games before Bechtold took a crafty behind-the-net pass from Keanu Yamamoto, hesitated across the crease and chipped in a backhand to regain the lead for good with 1:08 left in regulation. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Hudson Elynuik also earned an assist on the play to push his point streak to four games.
The Chiefs finished the game 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill. Kootenay outshot the Chiefs, 30-27.
NOTES: The win was Spokane’s first of the season when allowing more than two goals against. They are now 1-10-5-1 in that situation, compared to an 11-1-0-0 record when holding opponents to two or fewer goals scored. The Chiefs are also now 8-2-3-0 when Kailer Yamamoto scores a goal and 7-2-0-0 with fewer than 30 shots on goal.
Spokane hits the road immediately for a matchup against the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. They’ll then venture to Everett for an early 4 p.m. game on Sunday afternoon. Saturday night’s game will be broadcast on 790 KJRB while Sunday will be back on the Home of the Chiefs, 1510 KGA NW Sports Talk. Both broadcasts will begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop.
The Chiefs next return home on Saturday, December 17 to face the Prince George Cougars at Spokane Arena. It will be Fred Meyer Calendar Giveaway Night as the first 3,000 fans through the gates will receive a 2017 wall calendar courtesy of Fred Meyer.