SPOKANE, Wash. – Rookie goaltender Donovan Buskey made his first career start and made 32 saves on Wednesday night at Spokane Arena but the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds skated away with a 4-2 win.
Spokane got the scoring underway at the 11:00 mark of the first as Taylor Ross capped a beautiful tic-tac-toe play to make it 1-0. Rookie defenseman Ty Smith slid a pass from the right circle across to Czech forward Ondrej Najman, who returned the puck to the right side of the net where Ross was waiting to punch in his seventh goal of the season.
Seattle responded to tie it up 6:27 later in the first as New York Rangers prospect Ryan Gropp sniped home his 34th of the season on a power play, squeezing the puck just under the crossbar from the left circle. Buskey finished the first period with 17 saves on 18 shots faced.
After a scoreless second period, Zack Andrusiak found the net for Seattle to give the Thunderbirds their first lead, as the rookie forward found a bouncing rebound and willed it in for his sixth career goal.
Gropp scored his second of the night just 67 seconds later as he deflected a Turner Ottenbreit point shot from the left point to make it 3-1.
Chiefs forward and 2017 NHL Entry Draft prospect Jaret Anderson-Dolan snapped in his 37th of the season with 14:29 left in regulation, capitalizing on a crafty centering feed by Kailer Yamamoto from the right half-wall to make it 3-2.
The Thunderbirds responded at the 9:02 mark to give themselves some insurance as defenseman Austin Strand took advantage of a Spokane turnover in their own zone to fire his ninth of the season over Buskey’s glove.
The loss was Spokane’s seventh in a row. They finished 0-for-2 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill while being outshot 36-17.
Spokane hits the road for their next game on Friday night as they’ll take on the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick. They return home on Saturday night for the Coeur d’Alene Casino Regular Season Finale against the same Americans club.
Friday and Saturday night’s games will both be televised live on SWX, available in Spokane on Comcast channel 112 and over-the-air channel 6.2. Both broadcasts will begin a 7 p.m.
Tickets for Saturday’s game are available in-person at the Chiefs’ Ticket Office, over the phone at 509-535-PUCK and online at ticketswest.com or spokanechiefs.com.