SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane Chiefs fell behind 7-0 to the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Sunday night at Spokane Arena, eventually losing in a high-scoring affair, 9-5.
Kelowna came out buzzing after the opening puck drop, scoring twice in the first four minutes with goals from Reid Gardiner at 1:33 and Dillon Dube at 3:10. They added to the lead with two more quick goals midway through the first as Carsen Twarynski scored his 14th at 10:41 and Rodney Southam potted his 15th at 12:00. They extended it to a 5-0 Spokane deficit heading into the first intermission with another goal, this time by Devante Stephens with eight seconds left in the period.
Gardiner scored his second of the night and 11th of the season with another early goal at 1:11 of the second before Arizona Coyotes prospect Nick Merkley put in his 22nd of the year just over seven minutes later to make it 7-0.
The Chiefs got on the board 13:01 into the second with a power play goal as Keanu Yamamoto took a feed from his brother Kailer to score his career-best 23rd of the season. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Hudson Elynuik scored another for the Chiefs 1:50 later, again on a power play, to make it 7-2 after two periods.
After Southam recorded his second of the game at 3:14 of the third, Alex Mowbray pushed in his third of the season off a nice behind-the-net feed from Riley Woods to make it 8-3 with under 14 minutes left in regulation. Rookie defenseman Ty Smith picked up his second point of the night with a goal only 14 seconds later to cut the Kelowna lead to four goals.
Spokane continued to make it interesting as Woods slid his 10th of the season under Rockets goalie Brodan Salmond to make it a three-goal game with 10:22 left, but it was not to be as Kelowna stopped the bleeding with time to spare. Twarynski punched in his second of the night to cap the scoring at the 15:01 mark of the third.
Spokane finished the game 3-for-6 on the power play and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill. Jayden Sittler started for the Chiefs and made 10 saves on 16 shots in 41:06 while 16-year-old Donovan Buskey, in his first WHL action as an affiliate player, turned away 3-of-6 in 18:54. Salmond made 21 saves on 26.
The Chiefs hit the road for their next four games, first in Everett on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Mike Boyle will have the radio call on 1510 KGA NW Sports Talk with the pre-game show starting at 6:30.
Spokane’s next home game will be on Wednesday, March 8 against Everett. It will be another TicketsWest Player Magnet Giveaway Night as the first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a refrigerator magnet featuring a Chiefs player. Tickets for March 8 and all remaining Chiefs’ home games are available in-person at the Chiefs’ Ticket Office, over the phone at 509-535-PUCK and online at ticketswest.com or spokanechiefs.com.